After a long winter, the buds of spring are a happy sight. New produce is appearing at farmers markets, grocery stores, and even our own backyards, promising many fresh and delicious meals to come. I’m sure you’d agree: spring is the perfect time to gather greens and prepare simple, nourishing salads.
If you eat according to what’s in season, this shift in weather is a welcome change. It’s almost time to start harvesting those crispy vegetables so near and dear to our hearts. However, why wait for summer? There are greens to be picked and delectable salads to prepare, even now in April.
It’s surprising how many varieties of spring salad there actually are! Today, let’s look at a few different ways to incorporate spring produce into salads.
Many herbs begin to grow in the spring and make delicious additions to salads. Even the plainest of salads can be dressed up with a few sprigs of fresh herbs, such as these, which are all available around this time of year:
- Chives add a lovely, delicate onion (or garlicky if you use garlic chives) flavor
- Mint is always a refreshingly welcome herb
- Thyme leaves can be pushed off the stem and thrown in with mixed greens, or added to salad dressing (such as my favorite, a balsamic and thyme combo)
- Dill, with its feathery leaves, makes a salad just a bit more interesting
- Chervil tastes similar to parsley
- Lemongrass has a slight citrus flavor
- Parsley, curly or flat leaf, is excellent as a complement to salads, or even as the main component (think tabbouleh!)
- Tarragon has a strong anise-like flavor (but use it only sparingly)
For more ideas about adding herbs to salads, see How to Create an Herbal Salad.
Many vegetables growing during the spring months are wonderful as the main attraction of a salad. Why not try adding a little roasted rhubarb to a mix of greens? With a little goat cheese perhaps? Maybe sprinkle it with a few salad nuts? If you’re feeling a spark of creativity by now, here are a few spring vegetables you can use to spice up your salads.
- Sugar snap peas
- Asparagus (try roasting and adding it to your salad)
- Spring onions
- Fennel (pairs well with avocado)
And here are a few of my favorite salads, all starring springtime vegetables.
- Simple Sugar Snap Pea Pasta Salad with Shrimp
- Spring Lettuce Salad with Roasted Asparagus
- Spring Salad with Peas and Mint
- Honey Roasted Rhubarb Salad with Fennel and Mint
Edible flowers add color and interest to salads. Many of them have a very light flavor, but what they lack in the taste department, they more than make up for in prettiness. The edible beauties below are all available during the spring.
- Rosemary flowers
Also, check out this wonderful example of using edible flowers in a salad, combining Bibb lettuce, oranges, herbs, and violets.
Many greens, still in the “baby” stage during springtime, have a delicate and sweet flavor. Even usually bitter greens, such as dandelion leaves, are much milder when picked during this early phase of growth.
You can mix greens together easily by ripping the leaves into bite-sized pieces, tossing them together, and tossing the whole collection with a little vinaigrette for a simple side salad. If you’re looking to create a larger, more filling salad, add fruits, vegetables, nuts, and goat cheese or feta.
Here are a few salads featuring spring greens.
- Wilted Arugula Salad Asparagus, Bacon, Almonds, and Sherry Vinaigrette
- Spinach Strawberry Salad
- Basic Spring Green Salad
- Bibb Lettuce and Herb Salad with Vinaigrette
- Mustard Greens with Marinated Pear and Fennel
- Spring Salad with Watercress and Mint
- Spring Mache, Sorrel, and Radish Salad with Vinaigrette
- Wilted Dandelion Salad with Feta Cheese
- Sweet Kale Salad
Chopped salads are easy to prepare. They do require chopping (obviously), which can be time consuming, but most of these salads can be prepared ahead of time, which is quite the benefit.
Fresh crisps salads are made by choosing a variety of spring vegetables. They are perfect as a side dish or as a base for a hearty main dish salad! Here is an example of a simple, chopped salad that can be enjoyed during the spring.
Chopped Spring Salad
This recipe is relatively quick to prepare and provides that nice, fresh crunch we often miss during the winter months.
- 1 cup diced cucumber (about 1 large cucumber)
- 2 cups sugar snap peas, chopped
- 4 green onions, finely chopped
- 1 cup fresh parsley leaves, minced (will make about 1/4 cup once minced)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves or 1 tablespoon, fresh
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- sea salt and pepper, to taste
Serves 4 as a side salad. Adapted from Well Fed 2.
Toss vegetables and parsley in a bowl. Mix oil and vinegar together then pour over all. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to combine.
What is your favorite spring salad combination?
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