Of all the recipes to look forward to in the springtime, it’s the salads that speak that are most exciting. Coming out of a winter of rustic soups and comforting casseroles, light bright salads are a breath of culinary fresh air. They’re as welcome in the kitchen as spring tulips are on the dining table.
What's best about spring salads is their ease. They demand little of the cook. Add a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, and flash of fresh herbs to nearly any spring vegetable, whether raw or cooked, and you have a fine plate of food on your hands. Scatter on toasted nuts or crumbled cheese to elevate things further with little effort.
Below you’ll find 21 salad recipes that feature the finest that spring has to offer including asparagus, artichokes, radishes, snap peas, strawberries, watercress, arugula, favas, English peas, and leeks.
These recipes all lean on the lighter end of the spectrum and make a terrific lunch or a side dish for dinner. Add a source of protein to nearly any of these—whether grilled chicken, slow roasted salmon, or warm lentils—to make a complete meal.
Spring Vegetable Salad with Mint Pesto
This salad is a bright green beauty thanks to a combination of English peas, green beans, snap peas, and a minty pesto that gets stirred in just before serving. You’ll have plenty of pesto leftover, which you can stash in the fridge or freezer to use for pasta night, as a sandwich spread, or to slather onto chicken or fish.
Roasted Radish and Feta Salad
If you’ve never tried roasted radishes before, this salad is an excellent introduction. It could arguably make a convert of those who find radishes too bitter or peppery. Here, they’re roasted until tender and a little sweet and then combined with a lemony dressing. Side note: Don’t toss those radish greens! They can be whirled into pesto or added to a green salad.
Asparagus and Shrimp Salad
Simple is the name of the game in this fresh and healthy recipe that makes an ideal lunch or light supper. It’s a mix of blanched asparagus and just a handful of other ingredients that come together in 20 minutes or fewer.
Watercress Salad with Strawberries and Feta
If ever there’s a time to embrace watercress, it’s in spring! That’s when these flavorful greens are likely to be most tender, requiring little more than a quick rinse. For watercress with tougher stems, remove the bottom ends and keep the leaves on the upper stems. Either way, the peppery bite of watercress is magic with sweet strawberries, crunchy toasted almonds, and salty feta.Continue to 5 of 21 below.
Oil-Poached Artichoke Heart Salad
We wait all year for artichokes to arrive in spring and this is an excellent way to pay homage to a truly unique vegetable. You gently poach slices of artichoke hearts in olive oil with whole cloves of garlic until they’re a little soft and truly luxurious. The salad keeps well for several days in the fridge. Don’t worry about wasting the leftover poaching oil. It can be reused for dressings or sautés.
Shaved Vegetable Salad
When vegetables are young, such as in the springtime, it’s an excellent time to enjoy them raw. Here, you toss together thinly sliced raw carrots, fennel, radishes, and asparagus with a light citrus honey dressing and finish with shaved Parmesan cheese and chopped walnuts. The recipe lends itself to endless variations, so feel free to swap in other vegetables, cheeses, or nuts. The result is a colorful salad with no shortage of crunch.
Here’s how to make the most of tender spring leeks, a trick learned from our friends over in France. You begin by boiling leeks in plenty of salted water, then toss with a tangy Dijon vinaigrette. Marinate for a few hours or a few days and enjoy at room temp. Delicious.
Fava Bean Fennel Salad with Parmesan
If you’re going to do anything with favas, you need to come to terms with the fact that there’s a bit of work involved. That said, the prize of sweet favas that only come but once a year is worth the effort. In this salad, the favas are blanched and then tossed with a tasty combo of thinly sliced fennel, shaved Parmesan, and plenty of fresh mint.Continue to 9 of 21 below.
Asparagus Artichoke Salad
Now is the time to enjoy asparagus, since it’s never sweeter than in the spring. Start by cooking it on the grill (broiling or roasting works, too) and then tossing it with artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes, and shallots. The recipe takes a big shortcut by relying on jarred artichokes, which means the salad comes together with ease.
Cold Pea Salad
This recipe is written with frozen peas in mind but is excellent made with fresh English peas when they’re in season. Simply shell and blanch them in salted water and then make the recipe as instructed. The combination of sweet peas, smoky almonds, and hit of curry is an unusual (and very tasty) one. It’s also a terrific make-ahead dish, just be sure to add the almonds right before serving.
Strawberry Arugula Quinoa Salad
Even though arugula is available year-round, early spring is the peak of the season for this delicate green. It pairs up with seasonal strawberries, along with toasted almonds and a zesty orange vinaigrette. Quinoa provides a nutty base for this salad and gives it some real staying power. Get ahead of the game by cooking the quinoa, toasting the nuts, and making the vinaigrette in advance. Then the whole thing comes together in a snap.
Arugula Salad With Beets and Goat Cheese
Arugula and beets are cooler weather vegetables, and they come together in this salad. The addition of fresh goat cheese, walnuts, and a simple lemon vinaigrette mellows the pepperiness of the arugula and complements the roasted or boiled beets.Continue to 13 of 21 below.
We know romaine is available any time of the year at the grocery store. But have you ever had it when it's fresh from your garden or the farmers market? It will make your Caesar salad come alive, especially when paired with our homemade dressing.
Radish Salad With Mint and Pistachio
Radishes and pistachios? Definitely. They complement each other and combine with mint for one fabulous crunchy salad that stands alone or works as a side for steak, Mexican pulled pork, or tacos. Sunflower seeds also work in the salad in place of the pistachios.
Mixed Green Salad with Pecans, Goat Cheese, and Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
Grab some mixed greens, sometimes called a spring mix, plus some baby spinach, and throw this salad together in no time. The pecans add some crunch. The goat cheese adds some tang. And, the honey mustard vinaigrette adds some zing. Salad perfection!
Fennel, Radicchio, and Endive Salad
If you love the flavor of fennel, this salad is for you. There's fennel in both the salad and the dressing. This fresh spring salad has a sweet-sour-bitter thing going on that's hard to resist. Plus, the crisp vegetables will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days, even with the dressing on them, so make plenty of it.Continue to 17 of 21 below.
Spring Vegetable Salad with Asparagus, Peas and Radishes
Crisp and refreshing, this salad is bursting with spring vegetable goodness. All your favorite spring veggies are in here: asparagus, English peas, snap peas, and radishes. Add some protein in the form of chicken or salmon, and it will keep you going for hours and hours.
Sugar Snap Pea Salad
English cucumber, bell peppers, and mandarin oranges join sugar snap peas in this crunchy spring salad. Drizzle it with a sesame soy dressing. If it sits in the fridge for a day or two, the flavors intensify, so feel free to make it ahead of time.
Spinach Salad with Roasted Grapes and Warm Bacon Vinaigrette
Fresh baby spinach, walnut, and grapes meet bits of bacon, helping those who don't love their greens to give salad a chance (especially when bacon grease is also in the dressing). Add some cooked beans, hard boiled eggs, or sliced chicken, steak, or fish to give it some added protein, and you have a filling meal.
Lentil Salad With Arugula and Fennel
Tasty, peppery arugula, crunchy pine nuts and red onions, salty feta cheese, and sweet dried currents surround protein-packed lentils in this spring salad. Make it for lunch or serve it alongside simple roast chicken to round out dinner.Continue to 21 of 21 below.
Berries and Banana Fruit Salad
Not all salads have vegetables. This one has one of spring's first fruits—strawberries—plus blueberries, raspberries, apples, and bananas tossed with honey and lemon juice. It's super easy to throw together and makes a fantastic breakfast or spring cookout side dish.