While spring is one of my favorite seasons, it’s the brief overlap as winter morphs into spring that’s truly magical. It’s a sentiment that’s perfectly captured by verdant crocuses poking their bulbous purple blossoms out from under a blanket of melting snow. In the food department, it’s a similar scene, with the last vestiges of winter’s root vegetables for sale alongside spring onions and peas.
This salad is my homage to this fleeting time of year with crisp, earthy root vegetables like sunchokes and radishes tossed together with sweet spring onions and fava beans. Dressed in a maple mustard and lemon dressing, the salad presents a tantalizing bouquet of textures and spring colors that keep your fork returning for more.
The term “spring onion” is a bit confusing because it’s often used interchangeably with “scallion” or “green onion”. Spring onions, are the fresh, partially-matured bulbs of regular onions, or the maturing bulbs of scallions, depending on how you look at it. The bulbs are white in color and often come with the greens still attached. Taste-wise they’re milder and sweeter than regular onions, which make them perfect for our salad.
Although they are milder, spring onions can still be a bit pungent which is why I like to give them a soak in a solution of baking soda and water. The baking soda neutralizes the volatile sulfur compounds that give onions their tear-inducing spiciness, leaving them crisp, sweet and flavorful.
While the root vegetables need no taming, they benefit from a soak in water as well, taking on a crisp texture as they absorb some water. To save time, you can do all the soaking the day before you plan to serve the salad, and then dry and toss everything with the dressing just before serving.
Spring Sunchoke Fava Bean Salad
- 1/2 small spring onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 760 grams whole fresh fava beans
- 350 grams sunchoke, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1/2 watermelon radish, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1/2 lemon zested
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- black pepper
- Put the onions in a large bowl of cold water along with the baking soda and soak for at least 1 hour or as long as overnight.
- Bring a pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Remove the fava beans from their pods and boil until vibrant green (1-2 minutes).
- Drain the beans and chill with cold water. Remove the tough outer skin from the fava beans.
- When the onions are have lost their sharpness, drain them and rinse them in cold water. Then add the sliced sunchokes and radish. Cover with cold water while you prepare the dressing.
- For the dressing, whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, maple syrup, mustard and salt.
- Drain the vegetables and spin in a salad spinner to dry.
- Toss the salad with the dressing, plate, and top with some fresh cracked pepper.
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.