At FIG, salads are serious business. Chef de Cuisine Jason Stanhope knows that if he is to please his boss Mike Lata with one, he has to put serious thought into it and stay true to the vegetables. On the flipside, if he is to wow diners, he has to utilize some serious technique and layer enough textures and flavors to keep it interesting.
"The problem with salad is that it's so intensive, you have to reevaluate every three days or else it will get mediocre," says Stanhope, who hit upon the nine-vegetable salad as a way to showcase the food philosophy that he and Lata share, namely — respect the veg.
For this version of FIG's nine-vegetable salad, which usually has more than nine veggies, Stanhope surveys the kitchen deliveries from the morning and starts pulling together spring vegetables that have just started showing up. "We've been waiting and waiting and on April 1, asparagus, South Carolina strawberries, and ramps showed up," he says, popping a few cranberry beans in his mouth as he talks.
"We're looking for tons of texture," he says, laying out a bundle of asparagus and the first ramps of the season. "If carrots are creamy, radishes should be crunchy. If peas are blanched, asparagus should be tender."
Click through the map below for a look at where FIG's 9-Veg comes from: