Celebrate the season’s produce with this quick and nourishing spring pea, arugula, and asparagus salad with meyer lemon and honey shallot dressing. It’s sweet, peppery, and the perfect way to use all the spring vegetables you’ll surely find at your local farmer’s market opening day!
It’s finally May and you know what that means—it’s time to welcome back the farmers markets and the abundance of fresh produce that comes with them.
The start of farmer’s markets is why May is easily one of my favorite months of year. I also love May because it’s smack between spring and summer and there’s so much to celebrate—fresh flowers, warmer temps, longer days, and the return of all the best fruits and vegetables at the markets.
Granted, here in the San Francisco Bay Area we are more than a little bit spoiled when it comes to our access to fresh produce and farm stands. Not only do we have dozens of markets that operate year round (seriously such a treat), I’ve seen more varied produce options and greater availability.
Even though I haven’t done extensive research on the topic, I feel it’s an accurate statement based on my trips to other farmer’s markets—both back when we lived in Ohio and when visiting other cities, like Chicago, Nashville, Washington D.C., etc. (yes I’m really that girl who seeks out local markets to attend when traveling).
The Bay Area also seems to receive the season’s bounty sooner and for longer than markets in other states, probably because of our proximity to many of the nation’s leading produce farms. It makes sense.
Obviously, I hope saying that doesn’t come off as being super braggy or “California is the Motherland,” buuuuuuut it sort of is when it comes to produce you guys—wink, wink.
It’s funny, actually, because in Sonoma, where we now proudly call home, the big farmer’s market officially commenced last Tuesday evening. This quaint town is surrounded by farmland and I was kind of surprised there wasn’t a year round market here but c’est la vie.
So for the last month, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the start of market season here and I presume many of you have been doing the same in your ‘hoods, yeah?
Thankfully, last Tuesday’s opening market didn’t disappoint!
The Sonoma Farmer’s Market (held weekly on the historic town square from 5:30 pm to dusk every Tuesday) was actually more of a giant lawn party slash fancy picnic than a farmer’s market.
I didn’t mind that aspect one bit.
Not only were there the as-to-be-expected farmers selling produce, there was also a live band, bike valet (seriously a valet service for your bike—only in California I swear!), and a dozen-plus food trucks serving up organic flatbreads, ahi tuna and avocado sushi burritos (as in giant, oversized sushi handrolls a.k.a. heaven), organic artisanal ice cream, grass-fed burgers, free-range fried chicken, and on and on…
I say that it was more picnic than market because most of the town treats it that way: Everyone attending seemed to have food- and wine-packed baskets in tow.
There were lawn blankets and chairs strewn about the park all filled with people enjoying a laid-back meal among hundreds of their fellow local neighbors.
I’ll admit that what is normally a pretty sleepy square during the week became THE place to be. (The square’s activity ebbs and flows with the weekend tourists and nearby second home owners arrive.)
There was also LOTS of wine drinking because in case you didn’t know, Sonoma’s town square happens to be one of the nation’s only parks with open container laws (i.e. hashtag winning).
Now that we know what to expect, I can’t wait for this week’s market.
You better believe that we’ll be arriving much earlier this time to snag one of the aforementioned sushi burritos, which were already completely sold out of the burritos when we arrived a mere 30 minutes after it opened! Hmph.
EATING SEASONALLY RULZ
Our first market haul featured beautiful and freshly picked organic produce, including arugula, carrots, cherries, yellow chard, asparagus, radishes, and microgreens and sunflower sprouts.
While I’ll admit that I’m totally ready to skip ahead to summer’s bountiful berry season (in fact, I sort of already did with my lemon raspberry chia jam recipe a few weeks ago), one thing I love about shopping at farmers markets versus the regular grocery is that it forces you to stay within the current season.
I won’t deny that I appreciate being able to grab a pint of fresh blueberries or raspberries year round, but there’s something really gratifying about waiting until the moment that they appear at the local market.
It’s kind of like Christmas in July or something (at least that’s how I feel about seeing those plump berries on display…anyone else?).
Eating seasonally and shopping locally are two small ways that I make an effort to slow down and tune into the world around me a little more. I love interacting with the farmers and growers, getting to know them and their stories, philosophy, and picking their brains for recipe ideas.
This week’s recipe came about after chatting with an adorable microgreen farmer about her sunflower sprouts.
The sunflower sprouts along with other super nutritious microgreens and vegetables are grown at a nearby farm that’s profits support Sweetwater Spectrum, a housing community for individuals with autism spectrum disorders. I love that the farm not only supports the housing community financially, but also provides opportunities for the residents to grow and harvest various crops.
Learning these kinds of details about the produce you purchase is truly priceless. It connects you to your community in a way that grabbing a bag of pre-washed lettuce from the grocery never could and I highly encourage each of you to shop local when possible!
After talking about the nutritious benefits of the sprouted greens, I decided I had to make a spring salad to share this week and voila!
This spring pea salad with arugula and asparagus was born!
It’s truly a tribute to the season and full of nourishing greens that will energize and detoxify.
While the salad itself may seem super simple, I promise it has a great depth of flavors with the peppery arugula, sweet meyer lemon, and snappy radish.
It’s simplicity also allows it to easily be transformed into hearty lunch or dinner meal with the addition of protein per your choice, cheese/vegan cheese, nuts, grains, or any other nutritious ingredient you want to add!
Let’s delve into the goodness contained in a few of the main ingredients, shall we?
This green has a subtle peppery flavor that makes it fun addition to salads, sandwiches, and even tastes amazing added to pizza after baking.
You know when you see fresh asparagus at the market, that spring has officially spring, as this veg is often one of the first to be harvested.
Asparagus are a good source of iodine (helpful for thyroid health and fat metabolism) and rich in antioxidants. They may seem to be priced higher than other vegetables, but for good reason—each spear has to be hand picked!
I love sweet and tender English peas!
They are another quintessential spring vegetable in season from April to November (although we can get them fresh year round thanks to a few local farmers on the coast who grow them well even in the off season).
Peas add plant-based protein and when prepared as I recommend in this recipe, a super nice crunchiness and creaminess. They are a very good source of vitamin K (helps prevent osteoporosis and is important for blood clotting) and also contain B vitamins and vitamin A.
First of all, I love the texture that these sprouts add to salads and think they make such a pretty topping for it and other meals (try them on sandwiches, tucked into wraps, or for a nutritious garnish on a bowl of soup).
The process of sprouting the sunflower seed, increases its nutrition tenfold. Sunflower sprouts are a complete protein, high in B vitamins—especially folate, which is essential in preventing neural defects during pregnancy, vitamin E (powerful antioxidant), zinc (important for cellular metabolism).
The pretty factor alone makes these peppery beauties worth including, but if you can’t find the watermelon variety, any radish will do! Like arugula, they add a peppery bite to recipes like this salad, as well as a crunchy texture. They are a good source of both vitamin C and fiber.
Told you. Packed full of nourishing spring greens and oh-so-healthy!
Let’s do it, friends!
Serves: 6 servings
- 1½ cup fresh English peas (see below for cooking instructions)
- 4-6 cups organic arugula, washed and dried
- 1 cup organic sunflower sprouts
- 1 cup microgreens
- 1½ lbs asparagus
- 1 small watermelon radish, sliced thinly
- 1 small shallot, diced
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ meyer lemon juiced
- 1 tbs white basalmic vinegar (or add more lemon juice)
- 1 tbs honey
- zest of 1-2 meyer lemons
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- dash black pepper
- Fill a bowl with cold water, add ice cubes and set aside. You'll use this ice bath to blanch the green peas and asparagus after cooking to preserve their vibrant green colors.
- Next, bring a pot of water to a boil, add a pinch of sea salt and the freshly shelled English peas (I get mine already shelled from Trader Joe's).
- Boil the peas for 2-4 minutes and promptly remove and place into the ice bath. Remove once cooled and refill ice bath with cold water and ice.
- Add the asparagus to the pot of boiling water and cook for 2-4 minutes until tender, remove, and add to ice bath. Set aside once cooled.
- Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl until combined and pour over greens and vegetables. Top with microgreens and whatever other proteins/add-ins you prefer.
Follow along my market adventures this week on Snapchat, if you don’t already! You can find me by searching for Honestly Nourished or my username is “honstlynourishd” (no “e”s).
YOUR THOUGHTS >>>
What’s your favorite thing to buy at the local farmer’s market? Has your market season kicked off yet or are you still waiting patiently?
Hope you all have a good week and if you DO follow me on Snapchat, send me a snap to say hello! I love hearing from you!
Annnnnd, if you make this salad, please tag me on Instagram @honestlynourished and use #eathonestly #honestlynourished to share your creations!
Lots of love!