A Fresh Spin on Summer Salads

multi colored beets

As the season heats up and farmers’ markets everywhere suddenly have heaping piles of crisp, rainbow hued salad ingredients to offer, I needed a little jump start to get me thinking about new combinations and uses for all those spicy greens and plump beans. So when I ran across an article about Haven’s Kitchen in the NY TIMES a few weeks back, I promptly registered for a class there,  called  ”All Sorts of Salad”.

Strawberries

I arrived at the Union Square Greenmarket by 9 AM, with plenty of time to amble slowly, taking pics and admiring the tight stacks of carrots and radishes, bending low to inhale the sweetness rising from bright fuschia strawberries.  Walking through the market on the way to Haven’s Kitchen, conveniently located just west of the square, was the perfect prelude to the cooking event.

ingredients

Most of the ingredients piled on the prep tables for the class had been sourced from there just an hour before the class started at 10 AM. Talk about farm to kitchen. This is the way to do it , folks. And the title, “ All Sorts of Salads”, was cleverly ambiguous since the market’s offerings can never be perfectly anticipated.

front of shop

 Haven’s Kitchen is the brain child of Alison Cayne Schneider, who opened this airy cafe, specialty shop,  recreational cooking school and event space in a 25 foot-wide carriage house only 7 months ago. The carefully curated cafe menu,  smooth concrete floors, open and flexible spaces soaring three stories high,  lend a cool and welcoming vibe.

 

third floor down

Straight through the small cafe in the front, are glass doors revealing the classroom kitchen.  Nine lucky attendees donned aprons, gratefully sipped on expertly brewed coffee and directed our attention to  the school’s head instructor, Ashton Keefe.

Ashton, Head instructor

 At 26, Keefe looks more like a very mature and poised teenager than a highly trained chef but her perfect command of four work-stations and three assistants quickly revealed her expertise  (she’s a proud grad of the French Culinary Institute) and sunny disposition.

shaving asparagus

Haven’s Kitchen is meant to teach home cooks how to respond to the season’s offerings by being flexible and at ease without leaning on recipes. Instead of compulsively following worksheets  (they were e-mailed to participants the following day), Keefe divided up piles of plump sugar snap peas, a couple of variety of waxy heirloom potatoes, bundles of romaine lettuce and moved easily from station to station giving easy to follow instructions on slicing and chopping while answering all questions with grace and calm.

checking the blade

 Keefe gave useful tips and advice ranging from how to macerate shallots to how to toast farro. Plenty of discussion revolved around making aioli and green goddess dressing as the amicable group of new friends gathered around one of the four gleaming work tables. We  peering into bowls, checking the consistency of the emulsions after oil was drizzled and whirred, stripped herbs from their woody stems, and talked about the many uses for microplanes (best to keep a separate one for raw garlic).

tasting arugula

I love that Haven’s Kitchen sources ingredients from their neighborhood greenmarket. Bigger flavors, happier and more solvent farmers, building community while eating seasonally is what it’s all about. AND, It’s rare to see a kitchen that composts in NYC but they do, and they make it look easy.

Havens Kitchen is walking the talk and it comes through loud and clear.

grilled romaine (2)

 And at the end of our morning of chopping, tearing, simmering and dicing together, we gathered around a long farm table at one end of the kitchen and helped ourselves to the fruits (OK, greens) of our labor along with a well deserved goblet of crisp, chilled rose. Those of us who remembered, packed up left-overs in containers we had been encouraged to bring from home.

grilled romaine and faro salad at the table

How’s that for thoughtful?

plated

 

 Chef Ashton Keefe wrote the recipes she prepared with us. Here’s what we made:

Grilled Romaine with Green Goddess Dressing

Warm Potato salad with Capers and Spring Onions

Toasted Farro Salad with Spring Vegetables

Arugula, Cherries and Shaved Asparagus Salad.

Check back next week when I’ll be sharing the recipe for one of these summery delights. Let me know if there is one in particular that you want to see.  Leave comments below.

Haven’s Kitchen is at 109 W. 17th Street, NYC

Cafe hours: M-F 8 AM- 7 PM; Sa 10 AM- 7 PM

The next “All Sorts of Salad” class will be offered on August 7.

For a complete listing of upcoming classes, supper club events and parties click here.

 For vegetarian and kosher friendly classes, read detailed descriptions carefully or submit your questions via Haven’s Kitchen‘s website here.

 

12 Comments

  1. I would love the Green Goddess dressing recipe! If it is anything like the one that can be bought in stores, it is my favorite!

  2. You captured the essence of the venue space and class beautifully both in your comments and photos. A place to be experience most definitely in person .

  3. Liz – it was great meeting you at the ‘All Sorts of Salads” class – especially when I discovered that you are “Kosher like me” and you told me about your blog! I am really enjoying it and look forward to seeing your tagline in my inbox each week. Keep up the great work!

    • Esther, I am so glad you are enjoying my content. I am flattered. Feel free to lmk of any restaurant or events that are perfect for anyone kosher like us. I’ll be glad to check them out and will consider posting about them. Watch for Haven’s Kitchen recipe from our class, next week.

  4. Hey there Liz!
    Just a thank you for such a beautiful blog post about us…you really did capture the spirit of Haven’s and I look forward to meeting you at your next class! xo ali

  5. Hi Liz,
    Enjoyed reading the post! My kinda of place!
    I would love to take the ” All sorts of Salads” class.
    Are you interested in taking the cooking class on Aug. 7th.

    • I know that any salad lover will love taking this class at Haven’s Kitchen, or any other, if this class represents the quality of their presentations. Thanks for the invite but the next class I take at HK will be something I haven’t done yet. Looking forward to the fall’s offerings. ENJOY!

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