Quick & Easy Salads for Spring

fresh cut lettuceI wish I could tell you we spend as much time cooking as we do farming, but it’s not true.  At least not in spring.  One of us is out in the field by 7:00 am, and often back out again after dinner.  We balance garden time with toddler time, and more often mix the two together.

Spring is the busiest time of year on our farm, and we balance it with quick and easy salads that highlight the season’s harvests.

fast & easy spring meal: pea shoot black bean saladIn spring I crave fresh, green, bitter, and light.  The bitterness associated with lettuce and dandelion help our bodies purify after the winter’s requisite fat and protein filled meals.  There are spicy greens, too, like arugula and mizuna, that wake us up with a kick.  And then there are the shoots that speed their way from seed to harvest for a truly fast springtime meal.

“If green had a taste, this would be it,” a friend told me,  after eating a handful of pea shoots.

We turn to salads of all sorts in the spring.

It never gets boring, though.  Change up the protein, the greens, the toppings and dressing, and you’ll have a new flavor and texture each time.

Here are the building blocks of our farm salads:

Greens

  • Lettuce
  • Pea Shoots
  • Mizuna
  • Arugula
  • Spinach
  • Baby Kale

Protein

  • Beans: black and garbanzo are our favorite, but any variety will work
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Roasted Chicken or Turkey (left overs from dinner)
  • Cheese: cheddar, chevre, blue, etc.
  • Nuts: toasted walnuts, cashews and almonds are our favorites

Toppings

  • Sesame Seeds
  • Grated Beets and Carrots
  • Sliced Watermelon Radishes
  • Chives
  • Salad turnips
  • Radishes
  • Snap peas
  • Anything else you can think of!

Dressing

*I’m a recipe-improv kind of cook, so take the ingredients below with a grain of salt 😉 and experiment to find the amounts that most please you.  These are my three favorite dressings:

  • Maple-Tahini: mix tahini, olive oil, and maple syrup
  • Basil & Peach Vinaigrette: mix peach white balsamic vinegar with basil infused olive oil, sprinkle salt and pepper in to taste; add stone-ground mustard for a fuller texture
  • Maple Balsamic: mix balsamic vinegar, olive oil, maple syrup, salt and pepper; add dijon mustard for a maple-mustard vinaigrette

Build Your Salad

easy spring salad
fresh salad lunch in the greenhouse

There are times we think ahead and prepare our ingredients at night or in the morning before heading out to the fields.  Most of the time, though, we don’t.  That’s why I love salads so much.  10 minutes to boil an egg.  2 minutes to open and rinse a can of beans.  A few more minutes to chop the toppings and shake the dressing together.

Mix and match, top and dress.  With these building blocks, you’ll always find a salad to fill your belly and delight your taste buds.

3 thoughts on “Quick & Easy Salads for Spring”

  1. Lizabeth Snell

    Kate, do y’all have any super basic salad dressings that can easily be made at home with simple, inexpensive ingredients? We are looking for recipes (and ingredients to make them) for the Montpelier Food Pantry. Many of our shoppers have no pantry items, no oils or vinegars, no herbs, no mustard.. so simple is the key. We’ll be getting tasty greens very soon & love to encourage healthy eating. xxxoooLiz

    1. hmmm…the most basic salad dressing I know is just oil and vinegar with some salt and pepper. It could be balsamic or apple cider vinegar, which I think are the most common and easiest to find vinegars. I know that you can also make dressings with sour cream, but I’m not practiced in that realm. If there’s no oil or vinegar, a squeeze of lemon and sprinkle of salt will work, too! (Though I’m not sure if lemons are any more likely to have on hand than oil and vinegar). Hope this helps!

  2. Pingback: Beyond Lettuce: How To Grow Great Mesclun Mix - The Good Heart Life

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