Since Auckland is pretty well evergreen and that’s where I spent my formative years, this “real Spring” thing knocks me for six every time it happens. Spring in Tokyo was beautiful too – when you came across the odd tree, concrete jungle that it is – but in Vorarlberg, well: it’s another thing altogether. And this from a girl who often declares “it’s hard to impress me with the scenery, I’m from New Zealand after all” (smug and annoying, I know).
Unlike most other people here (I swear, in November someone said to me in all earnestness “I hope it’ll be a long cold winter”) a white world doesn’t warm my cockles at all and while I can’t measure how much of an effect the juxtaposition from what seems like endless cold and fog to sun and pink and white blossoms has on my state, I’m pretty sure I’d feel nearly as chuffed at the freshness were I coming from summer. You heard it first here people, this summer girl is admitting that another season might just have something to it.
The mountains that surround this little
village, town city seem to sparkle just so at the tops instead of bearing down ominously. Bees buzz busily (not yet fatly as in summer but frankly, somewhat cheesily) through the orchard down the road. Each morning the sun slants golden through the shades and makes pretty patterns on the duvet. Everywhere you look is suddenly green and, most importantly, I can wear a skirt. I’m frivolous like that.
I’m gripped by a sudden compulsion to eat everything green I can lay my hands on and the first time the urge hit me, I made this salad. I shelled some peas, I topped and tailed some beans and diced the most darling avocado; you know, the sort that is creamy and soft yet prettily holds its shape. I let a fistful of roasted pumpkin seeds and herbs shower over it all and then doused the lot in a dressing made green with pumpkinseed oil, which, by the way, please try if you have not already.
Spring, you are the queen of my heart. At least, for now.
Have you been gripped by any cravings recently?
Crunchy Spring Salad
There is obviously no reason you shouldn’t swap the zucchini for asparagus or broccoli for beans. The roasted pumpkin seeds and dressing are important though, for crunch and the inimitable flavour pumpkin seed oil gives, although you could use sunflower seeds or something. Wouldn’t be as prettily green though.
Serves 2 as a side dish or one greedy person munching whilst holding the bowl over their lap
For the salad
A handful of green beans, trimmed
Half a zucchini, sliced very thinly (use a mandolin if you have one)
Half a cup of peas, freshly podded
Half an avocado, diced
A tablespoon of minced Italian parsley
A spring onion, sliced thinly
A handful of roasted and salted pumpkin seeds
Blanch the beans in well salted water for a minute, add the peas and cook another two minutes and put in an ice bath. Drain.
Arrange the zucchini, peas and beans and avocado on a plate.
Sprinkle the herbs and seeds over.
For the dressing
60 ml (1/4 cup) pumpkinseed oil
30 ml (2 tablespoons) red wine vinegar
A squeeze of mustard
Half a clove of garlic, minced
A pinch of sugar
Half a teaspoon of salt
Plenty of ground pepper
Put everything in a jar and shake until emulsified.
Taste and pour over the salad. You mightn’t need it all.