Supremely Fresh Salads Bringing You the Best Spring Flavors

The arrival of spring brings out the lighter side in our dining habits, with dishes emphasizing fresh flavors such as fruit, mint, citrus, seafood, and more. Mild spring salads come in many exciting varieties, each designed to complement the warming weather in preparation for summer. Bring a seasonal touch to your own cooking repertoire with any of these 7 refreshing salads!

1. Quinoa Shrimp Salad with Honey-Lemon Vinaigrette

Cooking shrimp

Shrimp cooking in a pan | iStock.com

Little Broken’s salad weds light, protein-rich shrimp with spinach, crunchy cucumber, and radishes. Meanwhile, the crispy character of each ingredient is wonderfully accented by a tangy honey-lime vinaigrette. This quinoa shrimp salad with honey-lemon vinaigrette recipe takes about 40 minutes to complete and yields 4 servings.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup uncooked quinoa
  • ¾ cup water
  • ½ pound raw medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • ½ cup sliced English cucumber
  • ½ cup sliced radishes
  • 2 tablespoons sliced green onions
Honey Lemon Vinaigrette:
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1½ tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoons. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium garlic clove, pressed
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

Directions: In a small saucepan, combine the quinoa with water; bring to a boil. Simmer over medium-low heat, partially covered for 10 to 12 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender. Cool completely.

Season shrimp with salt and pepper. Heat a medium non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, spray with cooking spray, and add shrimp to the pan. Cook the shrimp for 2 minutes on each side or until done. Set aside to cool slightly or cool completely in the refrigerator until serving.

Toss the spinach, cucumbers, radishes, green onions, cooked quinoa, and shrimp with-Honey Lemon Vinaigrette. Season with additional salt and pepper as needed. Serve immediately.

For Honey Lemon Vinaigrette: Whisk all ingredients together until combined.

2. Spring Asparagus Panzanella Salad

Asparagus

Asparagus | iStock.com

Capitalize on seasonal flavors with this delightful panzanella salad from Two Peas And Their Pod. About Food writes that Italian Panzanella salad originated as a means of making stale bread loaves palatable for picky eaters. Bloggers Maria and Josh Lichty honor Italian tradition by sharing this recipe for spring asparagus panzanella salad. The recipe takes 50 minutes to make and yields 6 servings.

Ingredients:

For the salad:

  • 8 cups cubed artisan bread, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped chives
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped parsley
  • 1 large bunch asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 cups baby arugula
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas (thaw peas if using frozen)
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese

For the lemon dressing:

  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon white or golden balsamic vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Garnish:

  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place bread cubes in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine melted butter, chives, and parsley. Pour herb butter over the bread cubes and toss until well coated. Pour bread cubes on a large baking sheet. Place asparagus pieces on a separate large baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Toss until well coated.

Season the bread cubes and asparagus with salt and black pepper, to taste. Place baking sheets in the oven and cook for 30 to 35 minutes, or until bread cubes are crunchy and slightly golden brown and asparagus is tender, but still crisp. You will want to stir the bread crumbs and asparagus 1 to 2 times while they are in the oven. Remove pans from oven and cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, combine the bread cubes, asparagus, arugula, peas, and feta cheese.

To make the dressing, in a small bowl, combined olive oil, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, honey, shallot, and garlic. Whisk until well combined. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste.

Drizzle dressing over the salad and gently toss. Garnish panzanella salad with additional chives and parsley. Serve.

3. Chicken, Haloumi, And Avocado Salad With Lime Dressing

Pan Seared Chicken

Chicken cooking | iStock.com

Add a creative change of pace to your springtime repertoire with this chicken, haloumi, and avocado salad with lime dressing from Cafe Delites. In addition to salty Mediterranean haloumi cheese, the salad consists of an intensely-flavored sweet chili chicken that’s sure to be a hit with the whole family. The recipe yields 4 servings.

Ingredients:

Chicken Marinade:
  • 1 pound chicken breast or chicken tenderloins, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (or 2 teaspoons minced garlic)
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable stock powder
  • ¼ cup sweet chilli sauce
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Salt to season
Salad:
  • 1 (1.8-ounce) packet organic Haloumi cheese, cut into strips
  • 1 punnet grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 bunches baby romaine, washed and shredded
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • Salt to season
Dressing:
  • 2 tablespoons garlic olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • ½ tablespoon brown sugar
  • Salt to season
  • Lime wedges (to serve)

Directions: Whisk all chicken marinade ingredients together in a bowl until combined. Add chicken and set aside for 1-2 hours in the refrigerator (or over night for extra flavor). Alternatively, cook without marinating.

In a large skillet, fry the marinaded chicken until browned and cooked through. Set aside and keep warm. In a separate smaller pan, fry the haloumi cheese until golden on both sides (about 1 to 2 minutes each side). While cheese is cooking, combine salad dressing ingredients in a small bowl or jug until combined. Serve chicken and Haloumi over prepared salad leaves, tomatoes, and avocado slices, and drizzle with the salad dressing.

4. Pesto, Salmon, and Edamame Salad Nicoise

Salmon Salad Nicoise

Salamon salad | iStock.com

Freshly-caught salmon makes a great accoutrement to any mild weather salad. Healthy Seasonal Recipes blogger Katie Webster enhances her salmon fillets with a dollop of pesto. Meanwhile crunchy edamame combines with crisp salad greens and radishes to result in a fantastically fresh salad selection. This pesto, salmon, and edamame salad niçoise takes 30 minutes to make and yields 4 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 6 small thin-skinned potatoes, about ¾ pound
  • 4 (3- to 4-ounce) portions wild salmon, skin removed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 4 tablespoons pesto, divided
  • 8 cups clean salad greens, such as spinach, mesclun greens or green leaf lettuce
  • 3 hard boiled eggs, cut into eights
  • 1 cup shelled frozen edamame, thawed
  • ½ cup sliced radishes
  • 12 olives
  • ½ cup salad dressing such as caper vinaigrette
  • Freshly ground pepper

DirectionsPreheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Lightly coat foil with cooking spray.

Cover potatoes generously with cold water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium (or to maintain a simmer) and cook until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, 13 to 15 minutes. Drain and let cool on cutting board.

Meanwhile sprinkle ½ teaspoon salt all over salmon. Place the salmon, skinned side down on the foil, and spread 2 tablespoons pesto over them, dividing evenly. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake until the salmon is just cooked through and flakes apart when tested with a knife, 8 to 12 minutes depending on thickness of the salmon.

Cut the potatoes into quarters. Toss with the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and the remaining 2 tablespoons pesto in a medium bowl.

Divide the greens among 4 large plates. Arrange eggs, edamame, radishes, olives, potatoes, and salmon over the greens, dividing evenly. Drizzle with dressing and season with pepper.

5. Blood Orange and Sesame Salad

Blood Orange

Blood orange | iStock.com

Scaredy Cat Kitchen’s crunchy, tangy Blood Orange and Sesame Salad makes a perfectly simple addition to your lunch or dinnertime spread. Tinged with the Asian-inspired flavors of citrus and sesame, the dish is finished to perfection with avocado, crunchy radish, and a distinctive touch of coriander. The recipe serves 2 to 3 people.

Ingredients:

For the dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 4 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons blood orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon black sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon white sesame seeds
  • Pinch of sea salt

For the salad:

  • ¼ cup of slivered almonds
  • 3 blood oranges, segmented
  • A little handful of radishes
  • Small handful of coriander leaves
  • 1 head of little gem lettuce
  • 1 avocado, chopped into chunks.

DirectionsStart by toasting the almonds in a dry frying pan over a medium heat. Keep a close eye on them and move them around frequently to stop them catching. Once browned and smelling amazing put them into a small bowl to cool.

Next mix up the dressing, either in a little bowl or by shaking all the ingredients together in a jar.

Finely slice the radishes and pop them in a bowl with the oranges, coriander and ½ the dressing. Mix it up.

Arrange the lettuce and avocado in a salad bowl, pour over the radish mixture and the remaining dressing, then sprinkle with the toasted almonds. Enjoy!

6. Avocado, Radish, Spring Pea, and Mint Salad

avocado

Cutting avocado | iStock.com

Peas, lettuce, and radishes combine in Avocado A Day Nutrition’s salad, but the recipe’s homemade dressing lends a truly distinctive element to the dish. Lemon and mint mingle with olive oil to create a light, fresh, and tangy accent to your dish. This recipe for avocado, radish, and spring pea salad with citrus-mint dressing yields 4 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh peas (from half a basket of peas in the pod)
  • 1 head of red leaf lettuce, chopped, rinsed clean and dried
  • 4 large radishes, thin sliced
  • 2 small avocados, halved and thin sliced

Dressing:

  • 1 cup of lightly packed mint leaves
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions: Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil. Add peas and cook for 3 minutes, then drain and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process.

Place all the dressing ingredients in the blender and blend until combined. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a large bowl, toss together the lettuce, radish and peas. Drizzle with dressing and toss again until evenly coated. Top with sliced avocado and serve.

7. Kale Salad with Nutty Granola Croutons

Kale

Kale | iStock.com

We all know that fruit and granola go wonderfully together, so why not introduce both elements to your salad-eating repertoire? The granola “croutons” bring a spectacular crunch to this dish, consisting of oats, pistachios, almonds, sunflower seeds, and more to yield an unforgettable medley of flavors. Raw kale, radishes, and strawberries lend a refreshing aspect to the base, while tangy goat cheese ties it all together into one cohesive meal. This kale salad with nutty granola croutons recipe serves 2 people and takes 45 minutes to make.

Ingredients:

Kale salad:
  • 8 ounces Tuscan kale or regular curly kale
  • ½ pound strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 4 to 5 medium radishes, sliced thin and roughly chopped
  • 2 ounces chilled goat cheese (or about ⅓ cup cup goat cheese crumbles)
Lemon honey mustard dressing:
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1 small lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon smooth Dijon mustard
  • 1½ teaspoons honey
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Nutty granola “croutons”:
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • ½ cup raw shelled pistachios (or walnuts or pecans)
  • ½ cup whole almonds
  • ½ cup raw sunflower seeds
  • ¼ cup raw sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • ½ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 large egg white, beaten (optional, see note for vegans)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey or agave nectar

DirectionsTo make the granola: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium bowl, toss the oats, pistachios, almonds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, fennel seeds, salt, and cayenne pepper. Stir in the beaten egg white, oil, and honey or agave nectar until well blended. Transfer mixture to a rimmed baking sheet and bake, stirring halfway, until golden, about 16-19 minutes. Let the granola cool on the baking sheet.

To make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, and honey until emulsified. Season with a dash of sea salt and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper.

To prepare the kale: Use a chef’s knife to remove the tough ribs from the kale, then discard the ribs. Chop the kale leaves into small, bite-sized pieces. Transfer the chopped kale to a big salad bowl. Sprinkle a small pinch of sea salt over the kale and massage the leaves with your hands by lightly scrunching big handfuls at a time, until the leaves are darker in color and fragrant.

To assemble the salad: Drizzle in the salad dressing (you might not need all of it) and toss well, until all of the kale is lightly coated in dressing. Add the sliced strawberries and chopped radishes, then use a fork to crumble the goat cheese over the salad. Toss again, then sprinkle with a couple handfuls of granola. For best flavor, let the salad rest for 15 minutes before serving (this gives the dressing time to soak into the kale).

More from Culture Cheat Sheet: