5 Delicious Side Dishes and Salad Recipes for Spring

By , Category : Food and Nutrition

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Side Dishes and SaladMany things come to mind when it comes to spring, especially what I like to call “the three F’s of spring”—fresh food, farmers’ markets, and the farmers that grow the food. As a result, I get to create different spring-inspired side dishes and salad recipes in the kitchen.

Basically, there are three steps in the farm to plate process.

1. Farmers grow the food

A lot of fresh produce is ready to harvest come spring.

2. Farmers markets open for business

Although I buy at indoor markets too, there is nothing like enjoying the fresh air and camaraderie of a large assortment of farmers at the outdoor farmers markets. The markets often start in May and run through October.

3. Fresh food for feast

After purchasing fresh produce, I am ready to create meals in the kitchen inspired by the food from the farmer.

Needless to say, many of the side dishes and salad recipes you see below cannot be possible without farmers and farmers market. I’d like to dedicate this article to them, as without farmers these recipes really don’t taste the same. Also, many of the vegetables and produce used in this recipe article were taken from a recent article.

Read: Spring Vegetables and Herbs: 10 Foods to Look for at Farmers’ Markets

5 Spring Side Dishes and Salad Recipes

1. Apple and Radish Salad Recipe

When I was a kid, I wouldn’t eat radishes. I would disregard them from my salad due to their strong woody flavor. However, in my adult life, I’ve learned that radishes are only as good as the farmer that grows them.

When prepared right, fresh radishes are incredibly juicy and sweet with just the right amount of spiciness. The crunch combination from the apple and radishes only add to this fresh salad recipe.

Also, for you nutrition nerds, radishes contain a special compound known as phospholipid hydroperoxide glutathione peroxidase (PHGPx). It may be a mouthful, but it also acts as an antioxidant in phase 2 of the liver detoxification pathway. As a result, radishes disarm harmful chemicals and other cancer-causing substances. In other words, you can eat this salad knowing that it prevents cancer and cleanses your liver.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of thinly sliced red radishes
  • ½ cup of thinly sliced apple
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut aminos
  • ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon of dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon of finely chopped stinging nettle leaves
  • ¼ cup of chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon of coarse gray sea salt
  • Spinach for serving

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the apples and radishes. In another bowl, whisk the coconut aminos, raw apple cider vinegar, dried thyme, and toasted sesame oil for a dressing.

Pour the dressing over the radishes and apples, and toss well. Place another bowl over the mixture, and weigh it down with a jug of water or something else that is heavy to help squeeze the juices from the salad. Let it sit for about 25 minutes.

Next, while holding the bowls together, drain the liquid. You should get a quarter to a third of a cup.

On a bed of spinach, serve the salad and top with salt, basil, and stinging nettle.

2. Warmed Asparagus and Fiddlehead Salad Recipe

Early spring is the only time of year you see fiddleheads, while it is also the best time to get fresh asparagus. So, why not combine them for a delicious asparagus and fiddlehead salad? After all, it makes for a perfect marriage, as both asparagus and fiddleheads are loaded with disease-fighting antioxidants.

Although these vegetables are only available for a short time this spring, you’ll be glad you had the opportunity to make the following recipe, and you will likely look forward to it come springtime each year.

This recipe serves four as a side dish or small salad.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of fiddleheads
  • 2 cups of chopped asparagus (about 25 pieces)
  • 1 medium garlic clove
  • 2 spring garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 green onion, finely chopped

For the dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, plus more for sautéing
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • Sea salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Boil a medium pot of water. In the meantime, rinse fiddleheads several times thoroughly. Salt the boiling water and put in the fiddleheads. Let them cook for five minutes, then drain.

Trim the asparagus ends and chop them into bite-sized pieces. In a medium pot with a steamer attachment, boil some more water. Add the asparagus to the steamer and cook for about four minutes, or until fork tender.

In a large pan on low heat, add a few drops of olive oil, garlic, spring garlic, and green onion. Cook for about a minute. Add the fiddleheads and asparagus, and sauté for four or five minutes.

For the dressing, combine lemon juice, lime juice, dried oregano, parsley, basil, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.

Remove the pan from the heat, drain excess liquid, and transfer to bowls. Pour the dressing over the salad or side dish and enjoy!

3. Braised Wild Leek and Carrot Salad Side Recipe

The following salad recipe will give you a whole new appreciation for leeks—both wild and regular. Wild leeks (ramps) are very similar to regular leeks, but wild leeks have a unique, pungent flavor that adds something special to any dish.

Wild leek season runs from April to June, so it is best to take advantage of them when you can. Both leeks contain disease-fighting and sulfur-containing compounds that are excellent for treating and preventing cancer and heart disease.

This easy and unique recipe will take about 30 minutes, and will serve about six side dishes.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of leeks
  • 1 bunch of wild leeks (5-6)
  • 1 cup of heirloom carrots
  • 1 cup of vegetable or chicken bone broth (homemade or store-bought)
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon of dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon of coarse sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of minced tarragon
  • 4 tablespoons of ghee from unsalted butter

Directions

Remove the outer layer of leeks, and trim the roots and tough parts from the green ends. Cut the leeks into quarters lengthwise, and wash well. Wash the wild leeks, as well as the carrots, and quarter them.

Place the leeks and carrots in a large skillet and add the broth, salt, pepper, oregano, and thyme, and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer on medium until the vegetables have softened, for about 20 minutes.

Remove the cover and add tarragon, wild leeks, and ghee. Simmer for another five to 10 minutes, or until the broth has evaporated.

4. Honey Roasted Rhubarb Greens Salad Recipe

Some people think rhubarb is just for pies or desserts. But rhubarb is quite versatile and fits perfectly in a salad, especially when you roast it with raw honey. Do I have your attention yet? I thought so.

Spring is a perfect time for a greens salad, and it is a good idea to take advantage of rhubarb season, which shows up when farmers markets open. Rhubarb is a vitamin-K rich vegetable that certainly adds some flavor to this greens salad recipe.

This rhubarb greens salad recipe will comfortably serve two people as a side.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of chopped rhubarb
  • 3-4 tablespoons of raw honey
  • 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
  • 4 cups of leafy greens (kale, spinach, arugula)
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • ½ cup of shredded carrots
  • 3-4 tablespoons of roasted sunflower seeds
  • 3-4 tablespoons of pumpkin seeds
  • Coarse sea salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice from 1 organic lemon
  • 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, for dressing

Directions

Preheat oven to 450°F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Chop the rhubarb stalk into thick slices, or about a third of an inch thick.

In a large bowl, toss rhubarb with raw honey and balsamic vinegar.  Place the rhubarb on the baking sheet flat, and roast for eight to 10 minutes. Also, roast the sunflower seeds in the oven for about five to seven minutes.

In another bowl, toss the washed greens, shallot, and carrots. Divide them into two bowls. Place half rhubarb on top of each salad and add sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sea salt, and black pepper onto each salad.

For the dressing, add olive oil, lemon juice, and balsamic vinegar

5. Fennel, Carrot, and Bok Choy Salad Recipe

Fennel, carrots, and bok choy combine well together, and spring is the perfect time to enjoy them. All of them are completely nutrient-dense and taste best when fresh. Bok choy, in particular, is a cruciferous vegetable loaded with vitamin A precursors like beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin K.

I love what bok choy brings to a dish in both its sweet and crispy taste and nutrient content. Take note when purchasing bok choy. Look for dark and perky leaves with rigid white stalks.

The fennel and carrots will both also add a refreshing flavor to this excellent springtime bok choy salad.

Ingredients:

  • 4 baby bok choy
  • 1 small fennel bulb (about 4 cups, sliced)
  • 2 heirloom carrots
  • 2 tablespoons of avocado oil
  • 3 tablespoons of brown rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut aminos
  • ¼ teaspoon of sriracha
  • 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons of grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon of ground dried rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon of coarse sea salt

Directions

Trim the stalks from the fennel bulbs and cut them into quarters. Use a sharp knife or mandolin to slice them very thinly. Then peel the carrots and use the peeler to make long carrot ribbons.

Combine the fennel and carrots in a large serving bowl. Sprinkle salt, oregano, and rosemary on top, and let stand for 10 minutes to soften slightly. Cut the bok choy into long strips and add the carrots and fennel.

In a bowl, combine avocado oil, rice vinegar, sesame oil, coconut aminos, grated ginger, and sriracha. Pour the dressing over the vegetable mixture, and toss to combine. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Optional: top with a good protein source like fried tofu croutons or bite-sized chicken pieces.

Final Thoughts on Spring Side Dishes and Salad Recipes

These spring side dishes and salad recipes will get you started. They are perfect for your next spring get-together, lunch, or dinner. They are refreshing and add to any large meal.

Spring is also a perfect time to take advantage of the wild leeks, asparagus, fiddleheads, bok choy, rhubarb, and many of the other fresh vegetables that are showing up at this time of year. I really can’t think of a better way to enjoy fresh food. And, you’re supporting local farmers and farmers’ markets in the process, so it’s a win-win!

So, this spring, enjoy great salads and support the people that grow your food at the same time. There’s simply nothing better! Enjoy.


Sources:
Daniluk, J., “Hot Detox: A 21-Day Anti-Inflammatory Program to Heal Your Gut and Cleanse Your Body (Toronto: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd., 2016), 242.
Wells, K., The Wellness Mama Cookbook: 200 Easy-to-Prepare Recipes and Time-Saving Advice for the Busy Cook (Rockfield, Harmony Books, 2016), 96.
“Shaved Carrot, Fennel and Bok Choy Salad,” Today’s Parent, December 11, 2013; https://www.todaysparent.com/recipe/salad-2/shaved-carrot-fennel-and-bok-choy-salad/.
“Honey Roasted Rhubarb Power Greens Salad {And Health Perks},” Cotter Crunch, February 22, 2016; http://www.cottercrunch.com/honey-roasted-rhubarb-power-greens-salad-recipe/.
“Asparagus & Fiddlehead Spring Salad Recipe,” health is happiness, June 9, 2012; http://healthishappiness.com/2012/06/09/asparagus-fiddlehead-spring-salad-recipe/.




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About the Author, Browse Jon's Articles

Jon Yaneff is a holistic nutritionist and health researcher with a background in journalism. After years of a hectic on-the-go, fast food-oriented lifestyle as a sports reporter, Jon knew his life needed a change. He began interviewing influential people in the health and wellness industry and incorporating beneficial health and wellness information into his own life. Jon’s passion for his health led him to the certified nutritional practitioner (CNP) program at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition. He graduated with first... Read Full Bio »