It's Now Officially Salad Season

Yahoo FoodMarch 20, 2014

A spring salad can be as simple as tender greens tossed with vinaigrette, or you can step it up by adding seasonal treats like peas, asparagus, radishes, and baby artichokes.

In Season: arugula, Bibb lettuce, Boston lettuce, mache, and mesclun are available year-round but thrive in the cooler weather of spring and fall.

What to Look For: Leaves should be bright and fresh looking. Choose crisp lettuces that are free of blemishes.

How to Store: Lettuce should be washed and thoroughly dried in a salad spinner to remove any excess moisture. Refrigerate washed-and-dried greens in an airtight plastic bag for three to five days.

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Pea-Shoot and Baby-Artichoke Salad with Parmesan Croutons

Combine vibrant green pea shoots with the season’s first radishes and baby artichokes for a salad that’s full of texture. Add rustic Parmesan croutons, which get a little kick from cayenne, for richness and heft.

3 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (1 1/4 cups), divided
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
5 ounces rustic bread, such as pane pugliese, torn into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 lemon, zested
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 or 2 lemons), plus more for drizzling
1 1/4 pounds baby artichokes
4 ounces pea shoots (about 8 cups)
5 medium radishes, thinly sliced

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss together 3/4 cup Parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and cayenne in a small bowl. Toss bread with 2 tablespoons oil on a rimmed baking sheet, spread into a single layer, and sprinkle with half of cheese mixture. Bake 10 minutes. Flip bread with a spatula and sprinkle with remaining cheese mixture. Bake until bread is golden brown but still soft in center, about 5 minutes more. Reserve any cheesy bits on baking sheet.

2. Combine lemon zest and juice, 1/4 cup oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl. Working with 1 artichoke at a time, peel tough outer leaves. Trim 1 1/2 inches from top and trim stem. Trim fibrous green skin from base and sides. Thinly slice each artichoke lengthwise, adding it to the bowl with dressing and tossing (this prevents discoloration). Add remaining 1/2 cup cheese and croutons, and toss to combine. Let stand until bread is slightly softened, about 10 minutes.

3. Just before serving, add pea shoots, radishes, and cheesy bits from baking sheet. Drizzle with remaining tablespoon oil and more lemon juice; season with salt and pepper.

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Bibb Salad with Radishes and Asparagus

Crunchy radishes, delicate Bibb lettuce, and fresh asparagus are mixed with a homemade dressing for a unique salad that will complement any spring menu.

2 teaspoons grainy Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 heads Bibb or Boston lettuce, leaves torn into bite-size pieces
4 radishes, thinly sliced
4 asparagus stalks, thinly sliced

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together mustard, vinegar, and olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Add lettuce, radishes, and asparagus. Toss to combine. Serve immediately.

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Rhubarb Salad with Goat Cheese

Honey-roasted rhubarb, toasted walnuts, crisp fennel, and tangy goat cheese combine to make an unforgettable spring salad.

3/4 pound rhubarb, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup walnut halves
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (preferably white)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
4 bunches arugula (about 1 pound total), tough ends removed
1 fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 cup fresh goat cheese, crumbled

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss rhubarb with honey. Roast on upper rack until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet. On another rimmed baking sheet, toast walnuts on lower rack until fragrant, 5 minutes. Let cool, then chop.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together oil and vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Add arugula and fennel and toss to combine. Top with rhubarb, walnuts, and goat cheese.

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Wilted Spinach Salad with Caramelized Shallots

Caramelized shallots lend sweetness and depth to the warm vinaigrette that envelops tender baby spinach leaves.

4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 large shallots, minced
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon whole-grain mustard
2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar
2 bags (10 ounces each) baby spinach
1 teaspoon vinegar

1. In a large skillet, heat 4 teaspoons over medium-high. Add 4 large minced, and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes. Season with and Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring, until shallots are sticky and browned, about 8 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon water and cook, stirring and scraping up browned bits from skillet, until shallots are dark brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove skillet from heat; add 1 teaspoon and 2 teaspoons and stir to combine. In a large bowl, place 2 bags (10 ounces each) and pour warm dressing over top. Add 1 teaspoon vinegar, toss, and season with salt and pepper.

Shrimp and Snap-Pea Salad with Ginger Dressing

This vibrant main-course salad cuts down on prep time by boiling fresh snap peas and shrimp together in the same pot. Toss together with Boston lettuce, bell peppers, scallions, and an addictive carrot-ginger dressing.

Coarse salt and ground pepper
12 ounces sugar snap peas, stem ends removed (and, if necessary, strings)
1 pound peeled and deveined frozen medium shrimp, thawed
4 scallions, white and green parts separated and thinly sliced
1/4 cup vegetable oil, such as safflower
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 large head Boston lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
2 red bell peppers (ribs and seeds removed), thinly sliced

1. In a medium saucepan of boiling salted water, cook snap peas until bright green, about 2 minutes. Reduce to a simmer, and add shrimp; cook until shrimp are opaque throughout, about 1 minute. Drain, and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking; set aside.

2. Make dressing: In a blender, combine scallion whites, oil, lime juice, carrot, ginger, and cup water; blend until very smooth, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

3. In a large bowl, toss together lettuce, bell peppers, scallion greens, snap peas, and shrimp. Serve salad with dressing on the side or drizzled over the top.

Radish Salad with Blue Cheese

Crisp, peppery radishes and tangy blue cheese are a winning combination in this out-of-the-ordinary salad.

1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Coarse salt and ground pepper
3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese (about 3 ounces)
2 carrots, trimmed and peeled
15 medium-size red radishes (about 6 ounces), ends trimmed, thinly sliced
1 head iceberg lettuce, cored and torn into bite-size pieces

1. In a large bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar, shallot, Worcestershire, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and 1/4 cup cold water. Stir in 1/2 cup cheese, breaking up any large pieces with a fork; set aside.

2. With a vegetable peeler, peel carrots into long, thin ribbons; add to bowl with dressing along with radishes and lettuce. Toss to combine; season lightly with salt. Divide among four bowls; sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Serve immediately.

Asparagus and Pea Salad

Raw asparagus, peas, and wispy pea shoots are tossed in a creamy, tangy buttermilk dressing laced with tarragon, chives, and parsley to create a springtime sensation.

For the Dressing
1/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

For the Salad
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup fresh shelled peas
1 bunch asparagus (about 1 pound), trimmed and cut on the bias into 2-inch pieces (about 3 1/2 cups)
6 ounces pea shoots, stems trimmed (about 5 cups)

1. Make the dressing: Pulse buttermilk, vinegar, oil, chives, parsley, tarragon, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a blender until emulsified and pale green. Season with pepper.

2. Make the salad: Prepare an ice bath. Bring a medium pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add peas; blanch until vibrant green, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain in a colander, and transfer to ice bath. Let stand until cool. Drain in colander.

3. Arrange asparagus, pea shoots, and peas on a platter. Drizzle with dressing and toss just before serving. Season with pepper.

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