After months of cooking every iteration of winter greens and hearty root vegetables, I enthusiastically welcome the fresh crop of vegetables that arrives each spring.
Asparagus, English peas, little carrots, young radishes, and snap peas are all so sweet and tender, they require very little to make them shine. My first inclination is always the same: turn the produce of early spring into fresh, pretty salads.
This easy-to-make vegetable salad is an excellent way to kick off the season. Serve as a simple side or add your favorite protein to make it a complete meal.
How to Prep the Vegetables
Young spring vegetables are often quite terrific eaten raw. Shave or thinly slice asparagus and you’ll see that it needs no cooking at all. The same goes for snap peas, which add delicate crunch to every bite of this salad.
English peas can be sweet or a little starchy. It’s best to pop a few out of their pod and give them a taste.
If they’re good and tender, add them raw to any salad. If the peas are a touch starchy, shell them and blanch briefly in boiling water, shock in ice water, then drain. The same goes for fava beans.
What’s in the Dressing
The dressing is bright and acidic thanks to the juice and zest of a lemon. Two tablespoons of crème fraîche or sour cream adds richness without making the salad heavy.
It’s seasoned with lots of fresh chives, which pair well with spring vegetables. Consider making a double batch of the dressing, since it will last for several days in the fridge and is tasty with virtually any salad green or drizzled over both raw and cooked vegetables.
How to Dress a Salad
When it comes to dressing a salad, the first order of business is to wait until just before serving. It’s best to start with a light hand. Too much dressing out of the gate and you’ll have a heap of gloppy greens.
Start by drizzling about half of the dressing evenly over the salad. Use a pair of salad tongs to toss everything together. Taste a leaf of lettuce and if it needs more dressing, drizzle on a little more and toss again. The salad is adequately dressed when the lettuce is lightly coated, but not soggy.
Of course, you can always serve the dressing on the side.
Make It a Meal
The salad makes an excellent side dish to virtually any spring supper. I am partial to a simple roast chicken with root vegetables. That said, you can also turn this salad into a lunch main dish or light supper with the addition of a crusty baguette and one of the following additions:
- Boiled eggs: Use this simple cooking method to make them. Once cooked, cut them in half, season with salt and pepper, and tuck them on the side or right on top this salad. If you like the eggs a little on the jammy side like I do, cut the cooking time by a couple of minutes.
- Chicken: Cook seasoned chicken breasts on the grill. Let cool slightly, slice, and drizzle a little dressing over the top. Serve the chicken alongside the salad.
- Goat cheese: Cut thin slices of baguette, toast, and spread while still warm with fresh goat cheese. Serve a couple of goat cheese toasts with the salad.
- Smoked salmon: Finish your salad off with thinly sliced smoked salmon topped with capers and dill. Alternatively, serve with baked fresh salmon or these easy Salmon Patties..
- Grains: Make it a vegetarian meal by serving it with grains on the side, such as this Moroccan Chickpea Barley Salad.
- Shrimp: Sauté peeled and deveined shrimp in an olive-oil slicked skillet. Finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and dash of your favorite spice.
Swaps and Substitutions
This type of salad is built for flexibility. Here are a few ideas for switching it up:
- Swap sour cream for crème fraîche in the dressing
- Finely chop 2 scallions or 1 minced shallot to use in place of the chives
- Use 1 heaping cup homemade croutons in place of the toasted almonds
- Use another lettuce, such as red leaf, Little Gems, or chopped hearts of Romaine
- Add thinly sliced young carrots or fennel
- Crumble in good quality feta cheese or add shaved Parmesan cheese over the top
- Swap fava beans or cooked edamame for English peas.
More Green Spring Salad Recipes
Spring Vegetable Salad with Asparagus, Peas and Radishes
For the salad:
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 heaping cup sliced almonds
1/8 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning the salad
1/2 cup fresh or frozen (defrosted) English peas
6 stalks asparagus, tough ends trimmed
15 snap peas, strings stripped off
1 head butter lettuce, washed and torn into large pieces
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint (or fresh dill, tarragon or a combination), roughly chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
For the dressing:
2 tablespoons crème fraîche
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Zest from 1/2 lemon
3 tablespoons fresh chives, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Toast the almonds:
Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a medium skillet set over medium heat. Add the almonds and 1/8 teaspoon of salt and toast in the pan, stirring occasionally, until almonds are browned across the surface, about 5 minutes.
Transfer to a plate to cool.
Blanch peas if needed:
If using fresh or frozen peas that are sweet and tender, leave them as is and add into a large bowl.
If the peas are a bit starchy, blanch in a pot of salted boiling water until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain peas, and immerse in ice water, then drain and put in a large serving bowl. Set aside.
Cut veggies and assemble salad:
Cut the asparagus and snap peas on a diagonal into very thin slices. You should have about 1 cup of each. Cut the radishes into paper thin slices. Add the asparagus, snap peas, radishes, lettuce, and mint into the bowl with the peas.
Make the salad dressing:
Whisk together the crème fraîche, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, chives, mustard, and salt in a small bowl.
Dress the salad:
Drizzle about two-thirds of the dressing over the salad, toss well. Add more dressing if needed and toss again (you may have some leftover dressing). Taste and season with fresh ground black pepper and salt, if needed. Garnish with toasted almonds. Serve immediately.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 4 to 6|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 14g||18%|
|Saturated Fat 3g||14%|
|Total Carbohydrate 6g||2%|
|Dietary Fiber 2g||8%|
|Total Sugars 2g|
|Vitamin C 10mg||48%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|