The season of fresh salads is finally here! One of my favorite things about the spring and summer months is perusing through our local farmers’ markets, coming home with a colorful loot, and dreaming up new dishes to try with our findings. Sometimes, I just want to throw all the fresh lettuce and vegetables into one big salad topped with a fresh herb dressing or go with a classic caesar salad. It never disappoints 😉 I will be adding this spring salad with crispy prosciutto, spring onions, and radishes to our lineup. It’s a gorgeous presentation and a party of flavor for the palette.
“During the long, cold dark days of winter, my family leans on sturdy roots, sweet butternut squash, and hearty soups and stews, so by the time the snows recede and the green shoots and buds of spring begin to emerge in the warming light, we’re ready for something decidedly lighter, fresher and brighter.
Springtime is for Leaves and Little Roots, Peas and Flowers
This is the time that I begin to lean more heavily on salads, huge salads dotted with young carrots, thinly sliced radishes, fresh peas and any other spring vegetables I come across at the market. Herbs, too, make nice additions to salads, serving as a nice contrast to crunchy leaves of lettuce.
Fresh Herbs for Springtime Salads
Herbs pack powerful medicine. Like all leafy greens, they’re rich in minerals, beta carotene, and folate. They’re also rich in antioxidants, and various organic compounds that given them their perfumed aroma and assertive flavor. Rosemary Gladstar’s book, Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health, is one of my favorite resources for accessible, practical recipes for using and understanding both the culinary and medicinal use of common (and some uncommon) herbs and spices.
When herbs grow in abundance, typically in the spring and summer in our area, I use them liberally – dropping them into salads, making heady herbal tisanes and sun teas, sprinkling roasts and braised vegetables with them. In this salad, I used what I kept handy: chives, mint, flat-leaf parsley and feathery chervil.
A Dressing of Crème Fraîche, Lemon and Herbs
Thick creamy dressings stand up well to another springtime favorite: Buttercrunch lettuce, with its big, tender leaves. Vinaigrettes seem to fall flat with this type of lettuce, dripping off into the bottom of the salad bowl rather than lightly coating the leaves like a good creamy dressing does.
Most creamy dressings rely on an emulsion of eggs and oil, much like mayonnaise, to achieve their thickness, but this dressing – always a favorite for its ability to come together in an instant of whisking – achieves its thickness from creme fraiche, whisked with a bit of oil and lemon juice and zest.”