I desperately wanted to make the Endive and Arugula Salad With Peaches and Marcona Almonds from the Ad Hoc cookbook a few weeks ago. Was it peach season? No, it was not. I was saved from myself by the complete absence of peaches everywhere I normally shop. So I looked around at what was fresh, turned up a few fun things from the farmers' market, and now have a new favorite salad to show for it. —jael
Wash and hull your strawberries (I do this with a short paring knife) and cut each one in halves or quarters, depending on size. Set aside.
Roughly chop almonds. Marconas are great if you have them, but any almond will do. (Almond and strawberry prep can also be done at the end, but for this salad I like to prep everything in the reverse order that I'm going to use it in the finished salad. It seems to keep everything as fresh as possible.)
Wash watercress and mint and separate the leaves from the stems of both, discarding stems and setting leaves aside to dry. Cut the pea shoots into bite-size pieces.
Separate endive leaves from the base of two large or four small heads, by cutting 1/4" from the bottom and detaching however many leaves easily come free, then repeating. I discard the core slices, or eat them; they're a little dense and bitter for the salad itself. Slice the endive leaves into inch-long pieces for easier eating. To season, place in a large bowl, drizzle your oil around the outside, and toss the leaves with your hands. (This was the suggestion from the Ad Hoc cookbook; it works very, very well, though if you'd rather not dirty another bowl you can do the tossing step directly on the serving platter. Carefully.)
Distribute the endive leaves evenly over the serving platter and sprinkle with salt. Distribute watercress, mint, and pea shoots over the endive. Top with strawberries and almonds.
As a finishing step, drizzle balsamic vinegar over the top of the salad, concentrating on the strawberries. (Tossing balsamic with greens at an earlier stage can muddy the colors of the salad.) Taste for balance, salt again if needed, and serve.