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Spinach Salad of Arugula with English Peas, Radishes and Strawberries

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Contributed by Samantha Cabaluna of Earthbound Farm

This elegant and unusual salad showcases some of our favorite harbingers of spring. Piquant, nutty arugula is the perfect foil for sweet English peas, juicy strawberries, and peppery radishes. Sliced goat cheese marinated in tarragon and walnut oil, warmed and served atop a croute, adds a creamy, earthy note, while the Verjus Vinaigrette is very light, fruity, and slightly sweet to unite and balance the flavor notes of the salad. Verjus is French for "green juice." It is 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 are unable to find verjus in your area, an alternate Champagne Vinaigrette recipe is included at the end of this recipe.

Serves 4

4 ounce log of goat cheese (chevre), sliced into 8 rounds
1/4 cup walnut oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon or 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
3-inch length of thin French baguette, cut into eight 1/4-inch-thick slices
8 to 10 ripe strawberries, quartered or halved lengthwise
1/2 cup shelled fresh English peas (about 8 ounces unshelled)
4 to 6 fresh radishes, sliced paper-thin

Verjus Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup verjus
1/2 teaspoon aged balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 tablespoons walnut oil
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

4 ounces baby arugula

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

Fifteen minutes before serving the salad, set a rack 6 inches below the broiler, and preheat the broiler. Arrange the croutes on a baking sheet and top each round with a slice of 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 vinaigrette. Divide the greens among 4 plates. Arrange one-quarter of the radishes, strawberries, and peas on each bed of greens. Top the salad with 2 of the warm goat cheese croutes and serve immediately.

Champagne Vinaigrette (follow the same directions for preparation as 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 pepper, to taste