spring salad & frico!

a story about micro greens:
micro greens are seedlings. greens, just beyond the stage of sprouts. they grow quickly and require little space, and are sold at a rather high price. so a place like 'our school at blair grocery' in new orleans - a community agriculture training center - found micro greens to be a highly profitable product to sell to the high-end local restaurants in downtown new orleans. i had the opportunity to visit and volunteer at the blair school while attending the community food security coalition's annual conference in new orleans in 2010. such an amazing project they have going there! if you ever travel to nola, take a look at the list of restaurants the blair grocery delivers their produce to. (it will be a great place to start when there are so many options for restaurants in that city. whew. food overload!) anyhow, now whenever i eat microgreens i think of new orleans.

and now for the recipe... this salad was inspired by a recipe from one of my favorite jamie oliver cookbooks crossed with a salad i had at uneeda burger in fremont (i highly recommend this burger joint!)  frico - or baked crispy cheese - makes for a delicious crunch in addition to the creamy textures in this salad. frico, i found, is the best addition to any salad. they make a great gluten free alternative to croutons, or if you typically add soft cheese to a salad like chevre, try frico instead!

recipe serves 4 side dishes or 2 entree salads:
1 cup shredded asiago cheese
2 large bunches carrots, ends trimmed & cut at diagonals
1/2 cup fresh english peas, shucked
1 avocado
2 cups micro greens
1 orage, juiced
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon olive oil
fresh oregano
1 pinch chili flakes
sea salt & black pepper (or lemon pepper! oh la la)

preheat oven to 425. toss sliced carrots in 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt & pepper. bake for 20 minutes or so until fork tender. finish under the broiler for another 5 minutes until a bit crispy. let cool and turn the oven down to 375. in the mean time, shuck your peas and make a dressing with citrus juice, olive oil and spices. to make the fricos, shred cheese (you can really use any type of hard aged cheese and you can also add herbs or lemon zest to add flavor if you are so inclined). line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and lightly brush the paper with olive oil. pile a few tablespoons of shredded cheese on the sheet, leaving a few inches of space between each mound. the higher your mound, the more solid your frico will be. if you like a more latice-like frico, spread out the cheese a bit more. bake for about 10 minutes, watch closely though and bake until just lightly brown. let cool and remove from parchment paper using a thin spatula and let cool on a paper towel or serve directly onto salad.

to assemble salad, toss together peas, carrots & micro greens with a light amount of citrus dressing. top with a wedge of avocado and either a full frico or frico crumbles. such great spring flavor!