Spring has sprung, and summer’s just around the corner! Here’s an elegant, unusual salad to showcase some of our favorite sunny-season flavors.
Piquant, nutty arugula makes a perfect foil for sweet English peas, juicy strawberries and peppery radishes. Sliced goat cheese marinated in tarragon and walnut oil, warmed atop a crunchy croute, adds a creamy, earthy note. And to finish, a very light, fruity and slightly sweet Verjus Vinaigrette balances the salad’s flavors and textures.

Verjus is French for “green juice.” It’s made from unripe grapes, and its natural acidity is used to heighten the flavor of marinades, sauces and dressings in the same manner as vinegar, but without the bite. If you’re unable to find verjus in your area, an alternate Champagne Vinaigrette recipe appears below.
(Make-ahead note: The goat cheese rounds are marinated for 3-4 hours ahead of time, so plan your timing accordingly — it’s well worth the wait! No worries if you aren’t into cheese, though, because the salad is still delicious without it.)

Spring Salad of Arugula with English Peas, Radishes and Strawberries

4 ounces chevre goat cheese log (sliced into 8 rounds)
1/4 cup good-quality walnut oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon (or 1 teaspoon dried tarragon)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3-inch length of thin French baguette (cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices)

1/4 cup verjus
1/2 teaspoon aged balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2-1/2 tablespoons good-quality walnut oil
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

8 ripe Earthbound Farm Organic Strawberries (quartered or halved lengthwise)
1/2 cup shelled fresh English peas (about 8 ounces unshelled)
4 fresh spring radishes, sliced thin (we mixed in some watermelon radishes for a burst of color)
4 ounces Earthbound Farm Organic Baby Arugula

Place the goat cheese rounds in a small, shallow dish and drizzle with the walnut oil, coating both sides of the rounds. Sprinkle both sides with tarragon, salt and pepper, and marinate at room temperature for 3 to 4 hours, turning once.

Meanwhile, lightly toast the sliced baguette rounds to make croutes. Set aside.
To make the vinaigrette, combine the verjus, balsamic, salt, oil and tarragon in a small jar, cover tightly and shake vigorously to emulsify. Add pepper to taste, then set aside at room temperature.
Fifteen minutes before serving the salad, set a rack 6 inches below the broiler and preheat. Arrange the croutes on a baking sheet and top each with a slice of marinated goat cheese. Broil until the cheese is warm and begins to soften slightly at the bottom, about 4 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven and set aside while you finish assembling the salad.

Place the arugula in a large salad bowl and toss with the Verjus Vinaigrette. Divide the dressed greens among 4 plates. Arrange one-quarter of the radishes, strawberries and peas on each bed of greens. Top each salad with 2 of the warm goat cheese croutes, and serve immediately.

If you can’t find verjus, try this simple champagne vinaigrette (then use it as directed for the verjus in the dressing above):
1-1/2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
4 tablespoons good-quality walnut oil
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste