Galante Strawberry (Photo: David Karp)
April is peak strawberry season. Fruit researcher David Karp has a manifesto for Southern California strawberry growers. The most common varieties include Gaviota and Seascape. Farmer Jerry Rutiz sells the Galante berry which is thin skinned and full of flavor. It isn't grown for commercial sale, instead it can be only sold at Farmers Markets as it's has a shelf life of only a couple of days. David Karp writes the Market Watch column for the Los Angeles Times.
Josie Le Balch La owns Josie Restaurant (2424 Pico Boulevard, Santa Monica) in Santa Monica. She is making a spinach salad with citrus from Garcia. She uses Bloomsdale spinach, spring onions, thinly sliced fennel and oranges. For another variation she is taking raw asparagus, peeling it thinly the a vegetable peeler. Dress the salad with a citrus dressing: olive oil, orange juice, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper.
Spring Vegetable Salad with Asparagus and Orange
3 large navel oranges
8 spears jumbo asparagus (1 to 2 spears per person)
2 heads fennel, washed and thinly sliced
1 bunch pea tendrils, washed
1 cup fava beans, blanched and peeled
1/2 lemon, juiced
6 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
Lay each asparagus spear flat on a cutting board. Hold the bottom of each, and, using a vegetable peeler, peel about five large ribbons from the bottom of each spear to the tip.
Turn the asparagus spears over, and peel more ribbons, until you’ve used up all the asparagus. Save the bottom ends (the pieces that you’ve been holding on to) for soup or stock.
Using a paring knife, cut the top and bottoms off of each orange. Stand each orange on one of the cut ends and using slice off the peel and all traces of the white pith. At this point you can either cut the orange into sections or make wheels. A little of both look great.
Place the asparagus ribbons, sliced fennel, pea tendrils, and fava beans in a large bowl and gently toss with the dressing. Add the orange pieces and very gently mix together—you want to coat the orange sections with the dressing but be careful not to break them up.
Menu Minuet is the tile of the Santa Monica Farmers Market's next panel discussion. Jonathan Gold will moderate a conversation about how chefs maintain seasonality when designing their menu. The panel includes Akasha Richmond, Mark Peel and farmers Romeo Coleman and Alex Weiser. The event is free and open to the public on May 6 at the Santa Monica Public Library.