Chef Jason Paluska began his culinary career in Texas but after staging at a few restaurants in San Francisco, he saw the beauty in California’s lush produce and farms. When restaurateur Sherry Villanueva asked him to partner on a new restaurant in Santa Barbara, Paluska set his sights down the coast. He started working with fresh seafood and produce from California’s central coast and his style flourished.
Chef Paluska says it’s the microclimates of Santa Barbara that allow the region’s produce to sing all year round. The year-round availability of fresh vegetables and fruit have made The Lark a destination for California dining. His restaurant is at the heart of his new book, book is “Around the Table: Recipes and Stories from the Lark in Santa Barbara.”
Want a taste? Try Paluska’s delicious, seasonal salad featuring charred spring onions, romanesco, asparagus, pickled ramps, soft poached egg, and parmesan.
Prep time: 40 minutes, plus pickled vegetables
Special equipment needed: Silpat, grill, ice bath, immersion circulator (option: small pot), ice bath possible
Yield: 4 as a shared plate
Editor’s note: You can poach the eggs, but the delicate, viscous texture of a 64°C sous vide egg is worth purchasing an immersion circulator. Make sure the water is up to temperature before adding the eggs, for proper timing.
1 cup ramps
½ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup sugar
1 T salt
¼ cup water
1 tsp chile flakes
Put ramps into a nonreactive bowl. Heat vinegar, sugar, salt, chile flake and water to a simmer and pour over the ramps. Marinate in the refrigerator for a minimum of 72 hours. Drain before use.
1 cup Parmesan cheese
Grated black pepper and salt to taste
Preheat oven to 325°F. Spread an even ¼” layer of Parmesan on a sheet pan lined with a Silpat. Season evenly with black pepper and lightly with salt. Bake until cheese melts, 10-12 minutes, rotating three or four times. Cool completely, then break into shards. If not using immediately, wrap tightly with plastic.
1 egg yolk
1½ T Dijon mustard
7 T champagne vinegar
½ tsp each salt and black pepper
1 cup Parmesan, small dice
Approx. ¾ cup grapeseed oil (150 ml)
In a blender, combine egg yolk, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper. Slowly incorporate the Parmesan cheese until smooth. Slowly add oil in a thin stream with a blender until emulsified, using water to adjust consistency if needed. The end result should be thick and creamy.
8 stalks asparagus
4 spring onions, cut in half lengthwise
½ head romanesco, cut into pieces
¼ head purple cauliflower, cut into florets
Salt to taste
Coat asparagus and onions evenly with oil and salt, then grill until knife tender. Blanch romanesco and cauliflower individually until knife tender. To blanch: fill a 5-quart pot 80% with water. Season the water with salt until it tastes like the ocean. Bring to a boil, then transfer to an ice bath, stirring to speed up the cooling process. Drain through a colander when cooled. Evenly coat asparagus, onions, romanesco and cauliflower in olive oil. Season to taste with lemon juice and salt.
Soft Poached Eggs
White vinegar (if poaching)
1 T chive, finely diced
Black pepper and sea salt to taste
Heat water in a water bath with an immersion circulator to 64°C and cook eggs for 40-45 minutes. Once egg has set but yolk is still runny, drop the temperature to 58°C to stop the cooking process and hold the eggs. Or soft-poach the egg using the classic method of using simmering water with a touch of vinegar. Cook 3 minutes, then remove with ladle. Season with olive oil, chives, black pepper and sea salt.
2 baby carrots, shaved
2 breakfast radishes, shaved
10 each sugar snap peas, blanched
10 each fava beans, blanched
Plating: Place a spoonful of parmesan vinaigrette on the plate and arrange the spring vegetables and pickled ramps on it. Lightly season shaved carrot, shaved radish, snap peas, fava beans with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt to taste. Evenly distribute them around the plate. Finish with a soft poached egg, parmesan crisps, and red watercress.