The Southern Harvest Cookbook - photography by Katherine Brooks

The Southern Harvest Cookbook - photography by Katherine Brooks

Strawberry Pea Shoot Salad & Strawberry Vinaigrette 

(Serves 4)

editors note: On an early spring evening in one of my favorite bookstores - City Lights, in Sylva, NC my wife and I had the pleasure of meeting speaking and more importantly, eating palate-pleasing items made by Cathy Cleary, author of the SMASH HIT! The Southern Harvest Cookbook (Recipes Celebrating Four Seasons). A bubbly personality accompanied by a lovely story detailing how she grew to love cooking, baking and now sharing homegrown goodness from our Southern Highlands, kept exuberant attendees enthralled long past the designated event time. I have way too many cookbooks in my library, but this cookbook with its seasonal layout, highlighting the four season delights produced by the southern garden is a visual treat as well as chock full of tidbits from an experienced gardener and baker. It's a MUST HAVE. Oh, did I mention fifty percent of the author's proceeds from this book will support nonprofit organizations working on issues of food justice, sustainable agriculture, food security and edible education initiatives? 

Cathy Cleary

In the chill of winter, I tromp out to the garden to uncover thick, hearty kale, collard, and chard leaves and cut them into small bits for my winter salads. I love my winter salads, aced with roasted root vegetables and chopped apples, but as the tender lettuces and pea shoots start to emerge in spring, I'm overjoyed. I know the neighborhood thinks I'm' crazy as they watch me graze on pea shoots in the yard, but did I mention salad is my favorite food?

Salad Ingredients: 
8 cups (5 ounces) pea shoots, 
or any spring salad green
1 cup sliced strawberries
1/2 cup blanched asparagus spears
1/4 cup cooked bacon, crumbled
1/4 cup violets (optional)
1/2 cup toasted nuts (optional)
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese (optional)
1/3 cup strawberry vinaigrette or bottled balsamic vinaigrette

Strawberry Vinaigrette:
1/2 cup (4 large) whole strawberries
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin or light olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed and peeled
1-2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chop pea shoots into bite-sized pieces and layer in a salad bowl with remaining salad ingredients. Blend together all vinaigrette ingredients in a blender or food processor. Drizzle salad with 1/3 cup of vinaigrette just before serving or serve with dressing on the side. Reserve extra dressing for future salads, or use as a marinade for asparagus or other spring veggies. Will keep for two weeks in the fridge. Server alongside Herb Focaccia, a mushroom omelet, Ramp and Ricotta Biscuits, roasted fish or grilled chicken.