Peach, Celery, Milkweed Pod Salad
This light, delicate salad is a lovely side to a piece of grilled meat or a burger or greasy sandwich. The acidity in the dressing will cut down on the meat and the salad is so light it’s perfect for a hot summer day when you’re out grilling in the sun. Also, midsummer is when the milkweed pods are going to be small enough to harvest and still eat.
For the salad:
~15 small milkweed pods (less then 1.5 inches, with white seed fluff still in the center)
1 peach, pitted and medium diced with skin on
About 6-8 large celery stalks
Two or three of the very tender yellowish celery heart stalks with leaves, diced
One shallot, small diced
6 leaves of Tarragon, minced
Two sprigs of Thyme
Trim the stems off the milkweed pods. Drop them into a small pot of boiling water. Let them boil for about 4 or 5 minutes. Listen for popping and whistling. That is the sound of water and air escaping the pod. Milkweed sap (that white sticky stuff which gives milkweed its name) has cardenolides in it, which is toxic. Fortunately, they’re water soluble, so aggressively boiling the milkweed will rid the sap of its toxins. After the pods have boiled for several minutes, spoon them out and drop them into ice water. Take the larger ones (1+ inches) and slice them lengthwise, leave small ones whole.
Take a peeler and using it, peel long ribbons off of the outside of the celery stalks. Once the stalks become very thin and challenging to peel, set those aside to be eaten as a snack with hummus another day.
In small bowl, combine the shallots, celery ribbons, milkweed pods, half the tarragon and peaches. Take the two thyme sprigs and flake over the bowl to drop in the leaves. Discard the stems.
For the citrus vinaigrette:
2 oz olive oil
1 oz apple cider vinegar
1 oz honey
½ oz orange juice
¼ oz lime juice
¼ oz lemon juice
1 tbsp dijon mustard
Pinch of salt
Combine all ingredients in a small (8 oz) mason jar. Tighten lid securely. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Taste, adjust ingredients as you like. Pour over salad in bowl to your preferred amount of dressing. Toss the salad in the dressing until well coated but not too wet. Immediately serve salad onto plates and garnish with remaining tarragon leaves sprinkled over the salad.