The man behind Lark has redefined the seasons based on our lush local food — and why not? Welcome to Bounty.
IS THIS THE best time of year to be eating in the Pacific Northwest? Our gardens and farmers markets overfloweth, with tons of tomatoes, herbs, corn, green beans, melons and more awaiting our happy mouths; even the lowly freeway onramps get sweet with the smell of blackberries in the heat. But, then, wild mushrooms, apples, quince, pumpkin and more are just around the corner, supreme comforts as the days suddenly shorten and the sun fades.
Why choose? Put them together, and it’s the season of Bounty — that’s John Sundstrom’s capitalization, and his conception of a year boundaried according to the glories of our local food, where summer’s juicy treasures seamlessly segue into fall’s rich splendor. This salad, which is ideal for the end of a hot day, is from the “Bounty: August to October” section of the Seattle chef’s cookbook, “Lark: Cooking Wild in the Northwest.” (If you have the 2012 self-published hardback, consider it a collector’s item; this new softcover edition includes 25 new recipes and costs $29.95, to the original’s $50.)
Sundstrom’s Bounty-time advice includes showing some restraint in the face of all the lush freshness: “You have to not let your eyes be too big,” he notes, or you’ll end up wasting gorgeous stuff. Besides farmers markets, he loves Sosio’s in Pike Place Market, but says Central Co-op, PCC and Whole Foods are good for produce, too. It’s also not a time to be tied to specifics, with so much loveliness available: “That’s really my whole approach — here’s a recipe, but please, feel free to break out.”
The little gem in this salad could be swapped for speckled, butter or deer tongue lettuce. If you can’t find spot prawns, use sidestripe shrimp; or smoked fish; or cold, leftover grilled sockeye. The rich, herb-laden dressing — he doubles the anchovies when he makes it, because he loves them — also could go on green beans or thin ribbons of raw summer squash. Or: “Just fresh tomatoes, and some bread, and that green goddess would be lunch in itself.” Sounds like simple, pure Bounty.
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John Sundstrom’s Little Gem Lettuce with Green Goddess Dressing, Cherry Tomatoes, Avocado and Spot Prawns
Makes 4 to 6 servings
1 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 bay leaf
1 lemon, halved
16 shell-on spot prawns
For the green goddess dressing
2 anchovy fillets, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped green onion (green part only)
2 tablespoons chopped tarragon
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
2 teaspoons minced shallot
1 teaspoon minced garlic
½ cup aioli (see recipe below)
¼ cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 to 8 Little Gem lettuce heads or baby speckled lettuce (whatever delicate lettuce is available), torn into sections, washed and spun dry
2 teaspoons minced shallot
1 teaspoon minced chives
Fleur de sel, for finishing
1 avocado, sliced
½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1. In a medium saucepan, combine 2 cups water, the wine, salt and bay leaf. Squeeze in lemon juice, and add the lemon halves to the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil, and turn the heat down so it is just below a simmer. Add the prawns and poach just to cook through, about 2 minutes, or until just opaque and slightly firm. Be careful not to overcook them.
2. Using a slotted spoon, remove the prawns from the pan, and transfer them to a plate. Refrigerate until they are completely chilled, then gently peel off the shells. Slice the back of each prawn, and remove the vein. Chill again until ready to serve.
3. To make the green goddess dressing, in a food processor, combine the anchovies, green onions, tarragon, parsley, shallot and garlic. Pulse a few times to distribute evenly. Add the aioli, buttermilk, vinegar, salt and pepper. Process the mixture until it is pureed, well-combined and pale green. Adjust seasoning to taste.
4. In a mixing bowl, toss the lettuce with just enough dressing to coat. Add the shallot and chives, and gently toss to coat. Transfer the salad to a large serving platter, or divide it among individual plates.
5. In the same mixing bowl, dress the prawns with a little dressing and a sprinkle of fleur de sel. Place the prawns in and around the salad, being careful not to weigh down the greens. Dot the salad with the avocado slices and cherry tomatoes, and serve.
Chef’s note: The prawns can be poached and deveined up to one day before. The dressing can be made up to two days before and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
For the aioli
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ teaspoon finely minced garlic
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. In a medium bowl, combine the egg yolks, lemon juice and garlic. Whisk together for 2 to 3 minutes, or until pale yellow and thickened. While whisking, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until it’s emulsified and fully incorporated. Season to taste with the salt and pepper. Store the aioli in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.
Excerpted from “Lark: Cooking Wild in the Northwest,” courtesy Sasquatch Books.