4 Quick and Delicious Spring Salad Recipes

The key to making a great tasting, rather than a ho-hum, salad? Choose high quality ingredients. “Because you’re doing very little, if anything, to manipulate the ingredients, you have to make sure they are the very best quality you can find,” suggests chef Seamus Mullen, author of “Hero Food: How Cooking With Delicious Things Can Make Us Feel Better.” That means using in-season produce whenever possible. “When you eat fruit and produce in season, you’re experiencing them at the peak of their flavor and nutrition,” says Mullen. “They’re simply never going to taste as good as they do when they’re meant to be eaten.”

Also, don’t forget to add texture to your salad. “You don’t want all of the beautiful flavors you’ve developed to get lost,” he notes. “I like to make sure I have different textures at play in one salad; for example, balancing the rich creaminess from a sheep’s milk cheese with the dense, nutty crunch of almonds.”

Mullen shares four favorite spring salad recipes, along with perfectly paired salad dressing suggestions for each. Dig in!

1Sugar Snap Pea Salad

Serves 4

1 pound fresh sugar snap peas
1 bunch radishes
½ cup fresh ricotta cheese
A few leaves fresh peppermint
Freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
Olive oil to taste
Pinch Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes
Handful of edible flowers, such as pea blossoms or nasturtiums

Click for Instructions

With a sharp knife, trim the tips of the sugar snap peas on both ends, remove the strings if they bother you and cut some in half lengthwise. Blanch sugar snaps quickly, just about 30 seconds and shock in ice water. Slice the radishes thinly into coin shapes or half-moons. Combine the peas, radishes, cheese and peppermint in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper and toss with lemon juice and olive oil. Serve with a sprinkle of Aleppo pepper and garnish of edible flowers.

2Spring Salad with Almond Vinaigrette

Serves 4

4 cups lightly packed spinach leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted, divided*
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 small (about 12 ounces) red potatoes, quartered and steamed or boiled
1 pound asparagus spears, trimmed and steamed or boiled
1 cup cherry tomatoes
2 cans (6 ounces each) solid white tuna in water, drained
8 red leaf lettuce leaves

To make Spinaigrette: In blender, combine spinach, water and lemon juice. Use ladle to gently press down spinach while pureeing on low until almost smooth. Reserve 2 tablespoons almonds; blend remaining almonds, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt into spinach mixture. Gradually add oil, blending until mixture is smooth.

To make salad: Divide lettuce, potatoes, asparagus, tomatoes and tuna among four plates. Sprinkle reserved almonds over asparagus. Drizzle each serving with Spinaigrette.

3Watercress, Strawberry and Almond Salad with Balsamic Honey Vinaigrette

Serves 4

4 cups trimmed watercress
1 cup sliced strawberries
1/2 cup sliced almonds, roasted
4 shallots, sliced thinly, or 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup olive oil

Place watercress, strawberries, almonds and shallots in a large salad bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, honey and salt; whisk in olive oil until smooth and uniform. Pour vinaigrette over salad and toss gently. Serve immediately.

4White Bean Salad With Preserved Tuna and Parsley Vinaigrette

Serves 4

1 cup dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight
1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
2 stalks celery
1 onion, quartered
2 bay leaves
1 cup preserved tuna or good quality canned tuna
1 head radicchio, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
Parsley Vinaigrette

Combine beans, carrot, one celery stalk, onion and bay leaves in pressure cooker. Add 4 cups water, close and heat over high heat until it starts to whistle. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes, until beans are tender. Alternatively, cook in a covered heavy-bottomed pot for 2 hours over medium-low heat. Once beans are tender and cooked through, drain and discard vegetables. Set beans aside to cool. Thinly slice remaining stalk of celery on the bias. Flake tuna into a bowl and combine with the celery, beans and radicchio. Season with salt and pepper and toss with the Parsley Vinaigrette. This salad can be eaten right way, but the flavor is even better if you let it sit in the fridge for a few hours.

5Parsley Vinaigrette

Handful fresh parsley leaves and stems
1 clove garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
½ tablespoon champagne vinegar
¼ cup Arbequina or other good olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Combine the parsley, garlic, lemon juice and vinegar in a Vitamix or blender. Process until
smooth and bright green; remove to a bowl and whisk in the olive oil. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.