Spring is the time for young asparagus, luscious strawberries, and tender baby greens such as arugula and watercress. It’s also the time when the bluefish arrive in Vineyard waters and lobster prices start to fall – we hope.

We’re past the season for hot soups now – spring signals us to go lighter and fresher in the way we eat. For inspiration about how to use new vegetables in our springtime menus, we turned to our food editor, Catherine Walthers, who, with photographer Alison Shaw, has been working for the past six months on a new cookbook, Raising the Salad Bar (Lake Isle Press, New York City, 2007).

In these recipes from the forthcoming book, she pairs asparagus with artichokes in a spring pasta salad, dresses up smoked bluefish with greens, and combines micro greens with mussels and croutons.

Finding native ingredients


Bayes Norton Farm
Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road
Tisbury-Oak Bluffs border

Morning Glory Farm
Edgartown-West Tisbury Road

Whippoorwill Farm
Old County Road
West Tisbury

early greens

West Tisbury Farmer’s Market
Grange Hall, State Road
West Tisbury
(Check the Vineyard Gazette for dates and times.)


West Tisbury Farmer’s Market
Grange Hall, State Road
West Tisbury
(Check the Vineyard Gazette for dates and times.)

Cronig’s Market
Lower State Road, Tisbury
Upper State Road, West Tisbury


Ask a friend in the know about Vineyard spots for picking.

mussels and lobster

Island fish markets.

smoked bluefish

Island fish markets and Vineyard fishermen who like to smoke their own.

Mussels with garlic croutons and micro greens

Now that we’ve come to love and appreciate baby greens of all kinds, make room for micro greens such as micro arugula, micro mustard greens, and micro mizuna, which are beginning to come on the market. Harvested in under two weeks, these greens are less than two inches tall and super tender and tasty. Look for them at the West Tisbury Farmer’s Market or through special order at Cronig’s Market. If unavailable, use mâche lettuce, or chop watercress or arugula into small pieces.

Serves 4 to 6

Pour a lemon dressing over hot mussels, top with crispy garlic croutons and spicy micro greens, and you have yourself a great appetizer or first course.

• 2 pounds fresh mussels, rinsed well
• 2 cups garlic croutons (see below)
• 1 1/2 cups micro arugula or other micro greens (see above)


• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced (optional)
• Salt and pepper

1. Heat a small skillet over low to medium heat. Add olive oil and garlic and sauté until garlic is fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add lemon juice, parsley, salt, and pepper.

2. Cook mussels about the time you are ready to serve. Bring an inch of water (3 to 4 cups) to a boil in a large pot or sauté pan with a lid. Add mussels, reduce heat slightly, cover, and cook until all the mussels are open, about 4 to 6 minutes, depending on the size. Using the lid to hold the mussels, drain the water. Place greens in a small bowl, and have them ready nearby.

3. To put together, whisk dressing and drizzle a little over the greens, tossing gently with tongs. Pour the rest of the dressing over the mussels in the pot and mix to coat. Decide whether you’ll serve mussels in one large serving container or in individual bowls. Just before serving, gently mix in greens and garnish with croutons. If serving individually, make sure you include some liquid from the bottom.

garlic croutons

Use a loaf of French, Italian, or sourdough bread.

• 3 cups bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
• 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• Salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place bread cubes in a bowl and mix with garlic. Drizzle on olive oil and toss with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and bake for approximately 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly crisped, but still chewy inside.

Lemony asparagus and artichoke salad

A true spring salad, especially if you are able to obtain Island-grown asparagus, which can be sweet, tender, and very tasty. This salad tastes and looks best the day it’s made.

Serves 4 to 6

• 1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts
• 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
• 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• 8 ounces bow-tie pasta
• 1 pound asparagus, bottom 2 inches  trimmed off
• 1 cup watercress leaves, roughly chopped, or 1/3 cup parsley, minced
• 1 cup feta cheese, diced


• Grated zest of 2 lemons
• 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• Pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drain artichokes, rinse with water, and cut into quarters. Pat dry with paper towels and place on a baking sheet. Toss with lemon juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and minced garlic, and bake in oven until edges begin to crisp, about 20 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to boil and cook pasta al dente, according to directions. Drain in a colander and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Shake to distribute oil and let steam escape. Set aside to cool.

3. Cut asparagus on a diagonal into pieces between 1 and 1 1/2 inches long. Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet or cast-iron pan to medium high. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and asparagus. Cook asparagus until crisp tender, about 4 minutes, stirring often. Place in a bowl to cool.

4. Combine pasta, asparagus, and watercress or parsley together in a large bowl. To make dressing, whisk lemon zest, lemon juice, and olive oil together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Just before serving, add dressing to pasta and mix. Mix in artichokes and turn into serving dish. Gently fold in feta.
Spring greens with strawberries and a citrus vinaigrette

Serves 4

• 6 cups baby spinach or arugula, washed well, stems removed
• 1 daikon radish, peeled
• 10 to 12 strawberries, washed and sliced
• 2 oranges, peel and pith removed (optional)

citrus vinaigrette

• 3 tablespoons raspberry, champagne, or rice vinegar
• 1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
• 2 teaspoons maple syrup, honey, or other sweetener
• 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
• 2 teaspoons shallots, minced
• 6 tablespoons canola or olive oil, or a mix
• 1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Wash spinach or arugula and spin dry. Remove any long stems. Holding your knife at a 45-degree angle, cut the thick end of the daikon radish into thin slices. Cut each slice into thin matchsticks. Cut between the membranes of the orange to section.

2. In a jar or small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, orange juice, maple syrup, mustard, shallots, oil, and salt.

3. Place spinach or arugula and daikon radish in a salad bowl. Just before serving, whisk dressing and toss salad greens with just enough dressing to coat. Add sliced strawberries and orange sections if using, and drizzle on a little more vinaigrette. Serve immediately.

Radicchio and endive salad with smoked bluefish

The bluefish start running in Vineyard waters in early to mid-May. Not long after, the smokers get fired up. Here’s a great first-course salad you can put together quickly, with a colorful mix of salad greens topped with smoked bluefish and a lemon-lime dressing. It can be served with either slices of smoked bluefish or smoked bluefish pâté spread on baguette slices. Smoked trout or smoked salmon can be substituted.

• 1/2 small head of radicchio
• 1 endive
• 1 bunch watercress or baby arugula (about 2 cups)
• 1/2 cucumber
• Smoked bluefish for 4 (about 1 pound), or 1 container bluefish pâté
• 1 baguette
• 1 lemon or lime, quartered

lemon-lime dressing

• 6 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 1/2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
• 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
• 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
• 1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
• Salt and pepper

1. Slice radicchio head into quarters and cut out the core. With a knife, slice 2 quarters into thin strips. You should have about 1 cup. Slice endive in half and remove inner core. Slice endive lengthwise into thin strips. (You can soak either radicchio or endive in cold water to remove bitterness, if desired.)

2. Wash and spin dry watercress or arugula. Remove any large stems. (Small watercress stems are fine.) Chop delicately by making a few random slices through the whole bunch. Peel cucumber, slice in half lengthwise, and scrape out seeds with a spoon. Cut each half crosswise into thin pieces. Combine radicchio, endive, watercress or arugula, and cucumber. Cover and refrigerate until ready to eat.

3. To make dressing, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and the capers in a small pan and sizzle capers for 2 to 3 minutes. In a bowl, whisk together the lemon and lime juice, garlic, and remaining 5 tablespoons olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and add capers and the oil they were cooked in.

4. Before serving, give a quick whisk to dressing and add enough to coat leaves of salad. Mix well.

5. Place salad on individual plates. Put slices of smoked bluefish on top and drizzle a little more dressing over the fish. Serve each plate with a wedge of lemon or lime. Or cut a fresh baguette into slices and spread bluefish pâté on top. Add two or three pieces to each salad plate.