Spring is my favorite season: flowers are growing, beautiful new ingredients are available at the market and the overall feeling in the air just makes me feel more alive. Everything about it gives me more energy to cook for my friends and family.
As the name suggests, the spring salad is a seasonal salad filled with spring’s bounty of vegetables. Think raw asparagus, a variety of herbs and vibrant green leaves coated with a fresh garlic and lemon dressing. It’s elegant, super easy, pretty and just plain refreshing!
What I love about this salad is that it’s very versatile. You can serve it as a main dish or as a great side dish with fish or red meat. It’s a wonderful salad that makes the most of the vegetables that are in season during the spring.
1. Asparagus ends are fibrous and stringy. I recommend removing them and saving them to separately make a delicious vegetable stock. If you are not going to use them right away, you can freeze them in an airtight container. They’ll last for about three months.
2. While I tend to use watercress or arugula for the spring salad, any lettuce will do here. You could easily just chop up a head of romaine — even iceberg or any other crisp lettuce would work! But you can really sub in any leafy greens here to mix with these vegetables and the lemon dressing.
3. When it comes to which herbs to include in the spring salad, I love to use cilantro and chives. That being said, you can use whichever herbs that you like. Some other ideas include fennel, parsley, basil and mint.
Ingredients for salad:
- 1 pound thick green asparagus spears
- 1/2 cup packed shaved parmesan cheese (optional)
- 1/2 cup roasted nuts of your choice (optional)
- 1 tablespoon cilantro leaves
- 1 tablespoon chopped chives
- 2 cups baby watercress, arugula or any other lettuce you like
Ingredients for garlicky lemon dressing:
- Finely grated zest of 1 medium lemon
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1/2 lemon)
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1. Combine the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, minced garlic (you can mince it with a microplane if you have one), salt and pepper in a small bowl. Let sit for five minutes and then whisk.
2. Cut off the ends of the asparagus (save them to make vegetable stock, as noted above). Using a vegetable peeler, thinly slice the asparagus lengthwise into strips and place them into a large bowl.
3. Add all of the herbs and greens to the bowl. Toss the mixture with the dressing using your hands to combine.
4. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed. You can add shredded parmesan cheese or roasted nuts for an extra layer of texture and flavor.
5. Arrange salad on a platter, adding more herbs and/or cheese on top. Serve immediately!
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