Sunday, May 1, 2016

Northwest Spring Salad with Creamy Cashew and Herb Dressing

Happy May Day. The corner of Agate and 19th Ave., home of the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market, is teaming with triumphant runners and jubilant spectators today. The newly opened Sweet Life Petite is busy dispensing their pastries and beverages, as well as loaves of Hideaway Bakery bread, and the happy neighborhood bustle is a harbinjer of the upcoming seventh season of the Farmers Market, to start June 5, 10 AM - 2 PM. Mark your calendars. 

Just as we’ve had some changes on the corner, with the arrival of Sweet Life Petite and the soon to be opened J Tea, so too we have some changes in the market. After anchoring the Fairmount Market for five seasons, Farmer Erica of Sweetwater Farm has decided to turn her attention to her local Creswell Farmers Market. Sweetwater Farm will be missed, but we are excited to welcome new members Farmers Jonah and Amber of Camas Swale Farm from Coburg. Camas Swale Farm will be joined by returning members Fair Valley Farm, selling pastured meats, and Tiger Lily Art Company, selling beautiful local flowers.

Camas Swale Farm is a diversified organic produce farm that is known for offering a great CSA program (voted top 3 best CSA by Eugene Weekly in 2013). They've been growing a wide variety of organic vegetables, herbs, flowers and some fruit since 2009. Farmer Jonah grew up in SE Eugene and is happy to return with great produce for his old neighborhood and join the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market.

By way of introduction, Amber provided a delicious recipe for a Northwest Spring Salad with Creamy Cashew and Herb Dressing, which I riffed on for dinner last night. 

The creamy green dressing is made from soaked cashews, herbs, and greens. Amber suggests a couple handfuls of spinach, but since I had a big bunch of parsley I used that, along with fresh oregano and mint and some lemon for brightness. For extra creaminess you can blend in tofu or sour cream, or I took it more in the direction of a pesto and used olive oil. I employed my favorite trick of blending all the ingredients in a mason jar (the blade and base of a standard blender will screw onto a mason jar). You can top the salad with baked chicken or tempeh. We were grilling last night, so I topped ours with grilled asparagus and green onions and added quinoa and back beans for heft. The dressing is delicious and worth having around. I'm planning on using the rest tomorrow on a green spring pizza. Thanks to Amber for a great recipe and I'm looking forward to welcoming Camas Swale Farm to the market June 5.

Northwest Spring Salad with Creamy Cashew and Herb Dressing
adapted from Amber of Camas Swale Farm

Creamy Cashew and Herb Dressing (makes about 2 cups) 
1 cup cashews, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes
1/4 cup olive oil (or 1 cup tofu or sour cream)
zest and juice of one lemon
2 cups fresh herbs and greens such as parsley, spinach, oregano, and mint
1 Tbsp green trips of green onions or 1 tsp minced onion
~/2 tsp salt (less if cashews are salted)
~1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

If blending in a mason jar, use a canning funnel to add the soaked cashews, olive oil or tofu, lemon zest and juice, herbs and greens, salt and pepper to the jar, along with 1/2 cup water. Screw on the blender blade and base and blend until smooth. Taste and add more salt, pepper, or lemon to taste and more water for desired consistency.  You could also make the dressing in a food processor or regular blender. 

For the salad (use some or all of the ingredients below)
salad greens
chopped crunchy radishes and carrots
baked or grilled chicken or tempeh
grilled asparagus
grilled green onions
cooked grain such as quinoa
black beans

Top the greens with your choice of ingredients and drizzle with ample dressing. Enjoy. 
And see you at the market opening June 5th.

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