Summer may seem like prime time for salads, but fresh spring produce also shines in simple preparations that showcase our favorite vegetables’ tender new forms.
Every time March rolls around, I remember what it’s like to eat like a real human being once again. During the colder months, it’s easy to hunker down with heavy stews and bakes and think that hibernation fare is the best thing ever. But then spring rears its head and I am reminded to stop making like a troglodyte burrowed up in a cave. Fresh greens! Sweet legumes! Radishes, ramps, and artichokes! I didn’t even know how much I missed thee.
If your local farmers’ market is rolling back into gear, there’s no better way to take advantage of its spring bounty than with a crunchy, flavor-forward salad. Here are 11 recipes that will have you casting aside your woolly sweaters and mittens to welcome the season with open arms.
Flora Melamine Bowls, 4 for $40 at Sur la Table
Serve your salad in bowls that are perfect for spring on their own.
If any ingredients scream spring, it’s snappy asparagus and cool mint. Bring this salad along to your first picnic of the season. Get our Asparagus with Sweet Onions, Garbanzo Beans, and Mint recipe.
It’s crunch time! This one is for the fans of all things snappy and crisp, featuring celery and its root alongside radishes and capers in an anchovy vinaigrette. Get our Shaved Celery, Celery Root, and Radish Salad recipe. (And try our Shaved Asparagus Salad recipe, pictured at the top of this piece.)
This crunchy combo comes from Patricia Wells, and it’s divine. Snow peas add a hint of sweetness to this salad that’s balanced out with tart lemon, creamy Gouda, and salty flecks of pancetta. Get Patricia Wells’s Crunchy Asparagus and Snow Pea Salad recipe (and see a video demo below).
Bright green fava beans are a bit of a chore to prepare, but as a perfect taste of spring, they’re worth it. Adding meaty mushrooms and a gloriously runny poached egg makes them even better. Get the Warm Fava Bean and Chanterelle Salad With Poached Eggs recipe.
The return of warmer weather also means the return of ramp pandemonium. Ride the wave with this mélange of spring favorites tossed with sauteed ramps (but try it with prickly picked ramps too). Get the Easy Quinoa Salad with Ramps, Asparagus, Radishes, and Salmon recipe.
Now’s the time to seek out fresh artichokes, which have a delicate and pleasant bitterness to them when enjoyed raw. You’ll never want to go back to the vinegary ones from a can or jar after this. Get the Raw Artichoke, Celery, and Parmesan Salad recipe.
Although lettuces and greens of all kinds are available year-round, their leaves are really at their tenderest and sweetest in the spring. This simple salad with tomato and avocado will showcase the best of their vegetal flavors. Get our Cuban Green Salad with Avocados recipe.
Rhubarb is great in pie and preserves and all. But to really get a sense of what the tart stalk is all about, try it without the heaps of sugar. In this salad, it gets just a light glaze of honey, playfully contrasting with the flavors and textures of kale, goat cheese, and sunflower seeds. Get the Honey Roasted Rhubarb Power Greens Salad recipe.
Sweet spring peas blended with cream, eggs, milk, and parmesan transform into a delicate and delightful bite of spring; paired with crisp shaved asparagus and butter lettuce dressed in a light lemony vinaigrette, this is a stunning salad that’s surprisingly easy to make (aka just the thing for your spring produce feast). Get our Pea Custard Salad recipe.
Blood orange season spans the time between winter’s chills and the earliest sunshine of spring. This is a salad to make right now, while the juices are still at their sweetest. Get the Blood Orange, Fennel, and Avocado Salad with Lemon Citronette recipe.
Morels are those spongy, sea-creature-shaped mushrooms that pack a deeply meaty and nutty flavor. Wild ones are foraged in the spring. If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on some, treat them gently and let their natural charms speak from within. This light salad with asparagus should do the trick (or for something richer, try our Creamed Morel Mushrooms recipe, pictured above). Get the Morel-and-Asparagus Salad with Frisée and Butter Lettuce recipe.
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Related Video: How to Make a Great Salad with Patricia Wells