The perfect spring salad recipe

the perfect spring salad | pamela salzman

I just had to squeeze in this last recipe before Easter (and Passover) in the hopes that some of you are still looking for inspiration!  I taught this salad all last month in my classes and it was THE salad I seemed to make all the time last year when I had people over for dinner in the spring.  Spring is the operative word here since there is no mistaking in what season this salad lives.   I mean just look at it!  It is everything spring should be  — bursting with lightness, color and a breath of fresh air!  And full of veggies that come into being in the spring.  Plus it’s beautiful and it will go perfectly with whatever you’re making.  Leg of lamb, perfect.  Baked ham?  Perfect.  Roast chicken or fish.  Perfect.

cut watermelon radishes crosswise

The key with this salad is the balance of textures and colors.  You want to keep everything somewhat delicate which is why I love Bibb or Butter lettuces.  I found this beautiful red-leaf butter lettuce at my farmers market and used it for every class.  But then you need to do your best to slice all the hard and crunchy stuff as thinly as you can, again to keep things light.  I used my food processor to thinly slice the cabbage, carrots and radishes.  If you have a 2mm or 1 mm slicing disc for your Cuisinart, I would use that.  My new Breville has an adjustable slicing disc, so I turned it to just under 1 mm.  I especially like bitter vegetables like radishes to be on the thin side.  If you don’t have a food processor and your mandolin scares you (I don’t blame you), then just get out your sharpest knife and do your best.  You can even do matchsticks for the radishes and grated carrots.

try to find heirloom carrots

 

Trader Joe's Organic Microgreens

See if you can find beautiful heirloom carrots in purple or yellow and watermelon radishes like the ones here which are so dramatic!  I was able to find such carrots at my farmers market as well as Trader Joe’s.  My Whole Foods has had these radishes for the last three weeks.  Stunning!  They will make you look so good.  Your family and friends will be so impressed with whatever dish is graced with sliced watermelon radishes!  Truth be told however, my favorite component of this salad is the fresh chives.  Light, grassy with a very mild onion flavor, chives are like the most delicate green onions.  I just love them in this salad and others, too.  You know how much I enjoy shallots in my salad dressings, but I don’t add them here because the shallots offer enough of that flavor.  Even if you don’t make this recipe, consider adding chopped fresh chives to your next salad.  I know you won’t be disappointed!

the perfect spring salad | pamela salzman

You can do so much with this salad including adding feta, mint leaves, walnuts, avocado, oranges or kumquats.  There’s plenty of dressing for you to add in any of these.  Speaking of dressing, since there’s nothing in this one that can spoil, feel free to make this well in advance.  I’m sure it would do just fine in the fridge for 2 weeks.  It will firm up though because of the olive oil, so remember to pull it out of the fridge at least 20 minutes before you wish to serve it.

the perfect spring salad | pamela salzman

I hope you have a beautiful holiday, shared with the ones you love!  xoxo

the perfect spring salad | pamela salzman

the perfect spring salad | pamela salzman

the perfect spring salad | pamela salzman

The Perfect Spring Salad
Author: 
Serves: 6-8
 
Ingredients
  • For the salad:
  • 1 large or 2 small heads butter lettuce, washed, spun dry and leaves torn into bite size pieces (about 16 cups)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red cabbage
  • 4 radishes, sliced as thin as possible
  • 2 carrots, preferably purple, scrubbed clean and julienned or sliced super thin
  • ½ 1.75 ounce box micro greens
  • 1 bunch fresh chives, chopped
  • For the dressing: (this will provide slightly more than you need, but will allow for a few add-ins)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar, preferably raw
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 6-8 Tablespoons unrefined, cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil (depending on strength of vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon raw honey
  • Other additions/substitutions: a few kumquats sliced crosswise, chopped sugar snap peas, thinly sliced fennel, avocado, feta cheese, edible flowers, walnuts, mint leaves, flaky sea salt
Instructions
  1. Place the butter lettuce in a large bowl and layer the remaining ingredients on top.
  2. Place all the ingredients for the dressing in a bowl or screw top jar and whisk or shake to combine.
  3. Drizzle just enough dressing to coat lightly and toss together.  Finish with a sprinkle of flaky sea, if desired.

Arugula and Farro Salad with Peaches Recipe

arugula and farro salad with peaches

Mr. Picky is my third child, my 10-year-old son. He is a perfect child in every way, however he is rather picky when it comes to food. I know some people think that Mr. Picky is not at all picky because he eats things like lentils and beans and salmon. True. But he won’t eat an unbelievable amount of other, basic things, like eggs, cheese, and most cooked vegetables. Mr. Picky thinks the name I gave him is funny and doesn’t want me to refer to him as anything else on my blog. And since I am not worried that he is picky, the name can stay for now.

Ripe, but firm peaches that smell fragrant

“Would Mr. Picky eat this?” That’s what many of my cooking class students will ask me when we are making something outside of the kid cuisine box, so to speak. Most people have a picky child and therefore struggle will meal planning and mealtime. I can get frustrated too, but in general I don’t sweat it because I truly believe that if I continue to provide a wide variety of nutritious whole foods on a regular basis, something will click one day and he will turn into a better eater. This is not a post about raising a healthful eater, but more to address how I make something like this delicious Arugula and Farro Salad with Peaches and get my son to eat it. It’s called “deconstruction.”

I like to layer arugula then farro then peaches

I know what Mr. Picky won’t eat, in the case of this salad that would be vinaigrette, arugula and cheese. No problem. First I ask him if this is the day he would like to try the salad with vinaigrette. 90% of the time he says, “I’m not ready yet.” No problem. So I deconstruct the salad and give him a scoop of plain farro (it’s like brown rice, I tell him), almonds and peaches. If I have some romaine lettuce in the fridge, I’ll give him some of that, too.

shave the cheese with a vegetable peeler

Arugula is a peppery, almost a little spicy, green. I love it, but I didn’t when I was 10. But I just can’t see only making recipes that are Mr. Picky-approved. That would be cooking to the lowest common denominator and that’s never a good idea.

making dressing

I taught this salad last summer in my classes and just last week in Jenni Kayne’s Fourth of July class with The Chalkboard. This is the perfect salad for entertaining and I have even eaten a version of this for a lunch at home with my Everyday Salad Dressing #2. You don’t need the farro, but it does make the salad heartier which is helpful if you don’t want to eat the ribs or steak options at your BBQ. And if you are gluten-intolerant, unfortunately you can’t eat farro, but millet or quinoa would work well here.  In any case, everything can be prepped in advance so all you have to do is assemble at mealtime. I have also done a version of this salad with pitted cherries and Pecorino. I think nectarines or blackberries would also be amazing. For that matter, any stone fruit or berry would be perfect. Yay summer!

arugula and farro salad with peaches

arugula and farro salad with peaches

5.0 from 1 reviews
Arugula and Farro Salad with Peaches
Author: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup farro*
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 6 ounces arugula
  • 2 peaches, chopped
  • ¼ cup chives, chopped
  • Dressing:
  • 3 Tablespoons Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons raw honey
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • a few grinds freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 Tablespoons unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
  • a sprinkle of chopped or sliced nuts, such as almonds or walnuts (I used Marcona almonds here)
  • a sprinkle of cheese, such as feta, gorgonzola or shaved Manchego, Parmesan or Pecorino (I used shaved Manchego here)
Instructions
  1. Place farro in a medium saucepan with water to cover by at least three inches and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain well. If using right away, rinse with cold water to cool down.
  2. In a medium bowl or a glass jar with a fitted lid, combine all dressing ingredients.
  3. Place the arugula, farro, chives, and peaches in a serving bowl and drizzle with enough dressing to lightly coat. Toss gently.
  4. Add chopped nuts and/or crumbled cheese, if desired.
Notes
*about 2 ¼ cups cooked

 

Homemade ranch dressing recipe (dairy-free and vegan-adaptable)

Homemade Ranch Dressing | Pamela Salzman

For all of you out there who were like me and just hoping for a good game last night, was that a disappointment or what?!  We started counting how many times someone in the room said, “Are you kidding me?!”  At least the commercials and the half-time show were entertaining and eats were tasty.  We kept everything very simple with a taco bar, Mexican chopped salad and pizzas.  For snacking during the game, we had lots of guacamole, salsa and chips, naturally, and a huge raw vegetable platter with hummus, spinach dip and this homemade Ranch dressing.  I was very happy to fill up on lots of veggies so that I didn’t overdo it on pizza and tacos later.

Kefir, Vegenaise and Greek yogurt

base of the Ranch dressing before adding herbs

I had to come up with a cleaned up homemade Ranch dressing years ago for my husband because it’s his favorite on salads and I just can’t handle buying the bottled version.  Just read the ingredients on a label of Hidden Valley Ranch and you’ll understand why.  Even though I prefer a lemon juice or apple cider vinegar-based salad dressing, I think Ranch can sometimes really hit the spot and I do like it as a dip for crisp vegetables, too.  I taught this dressing in a summer cooking class over big slabs of ripe tomatoes and avocado with some raw corn.  So good!  And I love the idea of pouring a dressing into little cups with a few raw vegetable sticks for a party appetizer.

fresh parsley and chives

mince the herbs

Traditional Ranch dressing is herby and contains buttermilk and usually sour cream.  But I make mine with Greek yogurt, Vegenaise and kefir (pronounced kee-fer,) a fermented dairy product which is a little like a liquidy yogurt.  You can definitely use buttermilk and regular mayonnaise if you want.  But my girls really like kefir in the their smoothies and I usually have some in the refrigerator.  I also think it’s a bit better than buttermilk from a nutritional perspective.   Here’s an excerpt from  Sally Fallon’s book Nourishing Traditions  which is very interesting:Kefir is a cultured and microbial-rich food that helps restore the inner ecology. It contains strains of beneficial yeast and bacteria (in a symbiotic relationship) that give kefir antibiotic properties. A natural antibiotic–and it is made from milk! The finished product is not unlike that of a drink-style yogurt, but kefir has a more tart, refreshing taste and contains completely different organisms…kefir does not feed yeast, and it usually doesn’t even bother people who are lactose intolerant. That’s because the friendly bacteria and the beneficial yeast growing in the kefir consume most of the lactose and provide very efficient enzymes (lactase) for consuming whatever lactose is still left after the culturing process…kefir is mucous forming, but…the slightly mucous-forming quality is exactly what makes kefir work for us. The mucous has a clean quality to it that coats the lining of the digestive tract, creating sort of a nest where beneficial bacteria settle and colonize.”

homemade Ranch dressing | pamela salzman

If you can’t tolerate any dairy, even fermented ones, I do have a great vegan version of this recipe that you can follow below.  And if you don’t have fresh chives and parsley for this recipe, even half the amount of dried will do.  Like most dressings and vinaigrettes, Ranch can be enjoyed all year long.  However, keep in mind that creamy dressings go better with sturdier, more crispy lettuces like romaine.  No matter how you enjoy it, I think you’ll agree this is the freshest, best-tasting Ranch you’ve ever had!

homemade ranch dressing recipe (dairy-free and vegan-adaptable) | Pamela Salzman

 homemade ranch dressing recipe (dairy-free and vegan-adaptable) | Pamela Salzman

Homemade Ranch Dressing
Author: 
Serves: makes about 1 ¾ cups
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup soy-free Vegenaise or good quality mayonnaise
  • ½ cup full-fat Greek plain, unsweetened yogurt
  • ½ cup buttermilk or plain, unsweetened kefir
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 medium clove garlic, grated or minced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 2 Tablespoon chopped fresh chives or 1 scallion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
Instructions
  1. Whisk all the ingredients together in a medium bowl until smooth. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week.
Notes
To make this dairy-free and vegan:
¼ cup vegenaise
¾ cup raw cashews soaked in water for 3 hours, then drained
1 cup fresh water
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 medium clove garlic, grated or minced
1 teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
pinch of cayenne pepper
2 Tablespoon chopped fresh chives or 1 scallion, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped

Place everything except the herbs into a high-powered blender or food processor and blend until creamy.  Stir in the herbs by hand and transfer to a container.

Egg Salad Recipe and Other Things You Can Do with Hard Boiled Eggs

I’m thrilled to have my mother and my 4-year-old niece visiting me this week from New York.  We’re having a great time catching up on magazines, tivo’d shows and of course, cooking.  After she read my post the other day about hard boiled eggs, she said, “so I used to overcook my eggs?”  I speak the truth on this blog and I asked my mother if she remembered the telltale green ring around her yolks.  She remembered.  We reminisced about always eating egg salad sandwiches for lunch the day after Easter, and for old times’ sake I thought it would be fun to make them with my mom again.

The two of us had a little egg salad cook-off with my mom making the version I grew up with, which is no more than chopped up hard boiled eggs combined with mayonnaise, relish and a pinch of salt.  Always delicious and that little bit of sweetness from the relish makes this egg salad kid friendly, unless you’re Mr. Picky who thinks egg salad is one of the “scariest” foods out there.  2 plain hard boiled eggs for Mr. Picky, please!  I whipped up my favorite version of egg salad which is loosely based on a recipe from my heroine, Alice Waters and her fabulous book, The Art of Simple Food.  My more grown-up egg salad may taste more sophisticated than the old version, but I assure you it is just as simple, absolutely delicious, and still kid-friendly (for kids that would actually eat egg salad.)  And look, Mom, no green ring!

Hard boiled eggs are rather bland and the texture is soft, so I like balancing all that out with a little salty bite from some capers, some mild onion flavor from either fresh chives, shallots or green onions, and the smallest dash of cayenne for some kick.  I don’t see how people can eat egg salad on squishy, bland white bread, and not just because white bread is tasteless and devoid of nutrients (maybe I should tell you how I really feel.)  Egg salad just pairs so well with some texture and flavor, like from a nice hearty sprouted seed bread or other earthy, flavorful bread — always toasted.  After enjoying this tasty sandwich with my mom the other day, I asked myself why I never make egg salad.  It was such a simple and satisfying lunch with a side green salad.  Daughter #1 gave the egg salad a try and became a convert, although with mouth half-full announced she liked it just fine, but wouldn’t be taking any egg salad too school for lunch — “I don’t want egg aroma in my backpack all day, thanks.”  Whatever.

If you are in Mr. Picky’s camp and think egg salad is too scary or if you went all out, decorated a bazillion eggs and need something more than just an egg salad recipe, here are some other yummy ideas:

  • Sliced on top of toast with smoked salmon or sliced avocado.
  • Deviled eggs — I think this recipe for Caesar Salad Deviled Eggs at Smitten Kitchen looks interesting.
  • Nicoise Salad — a composed salad of potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, tuna and hard boiled eggs.
  • Cobb Salad — here’s a more healthful version by Ellie Krieger.
  • In a filling for empanadas.  I love my recipe which uses mixed greens, to which you can add a chopped hard boiled egg or two.
  • Pan Bagnat — a sandwich with sliced hard boiled eggs, tuna, tomatoes, onions.  Check out Alton Brown’s recipe here.
  • Chopped over steamed or roasted asparagus.  Then drizzle with one of my favorite everyday salad dressings.

Do you have any great ways to eat hard boiled eggs?  I’d love to know!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Egg Salad
Author: 
Serves: makes enough for 2-3 sandwiches
 
Ingredients
  • 4 hard boiled eggs, peeled
  • 3-4 Tablespoons mayonnaise (I like soy-free Vegenaise)
  • 1 heaping teaspoon of capers, drained and chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped chives (my favorite), scallions or shallots
  • tiny pinch of sea salt or to taste
  • a few grinds of freshly ground pepper
  • a dash or two of cayenne pepper (doesn’t make it spicy, just better)
Instructions
  1. Coarsely chop the eggs and place in a bowl. Add remaining ingredients and combine well. Taste for seasoning.
  2. Serve on toasted whole grain bread with greens like watercress or your favorite lettuce. I always love a little avocado, too!
Notes
Other delicious additions to the egg salad: diced celery, Dijon mustard, fresh parsley

My Mom’s Egg Salad

4 hard boiled eggs, chopped

3-4 Tablespoons mayonnaise

2 Tablespoons sweet relish

pinch of salt



Mix everything to combine well.

 

Green Goddess Salad

I just spent a lovely four days in Park City, Utah enjoying the clean air and the peace and quiet (outdoors, of course; indoors I have my three kids and two of their friends, so no peace and quiet in the house from noon ’til midnight.)  There are no televisions and I insist that the kids leave the phones in their bedrooms so we can hike and dine without the ping of 6 iPhones.  Heaven.

Of course, with travel comes a deviation from eating the way I like to eat.  I consumed a little too much guacamole and chips a little too late at night, and then someone tried to torture me by buying a container of Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter.  I had mentioned it was like a more healthful Nutella, not that it was actually healthful.  By the end, I missed my juicer and my garden and all I wanted to eat were salads and vegetables.  In fact, I was craving this Green Goddess Salad while I was on the plane home.

No, I didn’t name this dressing after you.  The original Green Goddess dressing was created at San Francisco’s Palace Hotel in the 1920’s, for the English actor George Arliss.  Arliss was staying at the hotel and dined there every evening before he performed in a play called “The Green Goddess.”  There are so many variations on this dressing, the base of which is usually mayonnaise, sour cream and tarragon — the only herb I don’t like.  Can we still be friends?  So considering I am using none of the above, I don’t know if I can actually call it a Green Goddess dressing.  One day last summer, I tried to clean out some little bits of herbs that were lingering and blended them into my own version of the dressing and we all loved it.  So feel free to adjust the recipe according to whatever herbs you have on hand, even if it’s tarragon.  The kids think it tastes a little like ranch dressing.  So I made more the next day and used it as a dip for raw vegetables.

Green Goddess is a creamy dressing that’s a nice break from traditional vinaigrettes, and one that works well with crisp and sturdy lettuces.  There are dozens of ways to enjoy this salad, even as a main course, since so many things work well with the dressing.  Here I used tomatoes and radishes, which are both perfectly obvious, but you can add hard boiled eggs, shrimp, poached chicken, cucumber, avocado, and/or corn.  One day I took a few beefy tomatoes from the garden, sliced them up and drizzled this over.  Whatever you do, don’t leave out the anchovy paste — it really adds a little salty something and doesn’t taste at all fishy.  Your kids and your picky spouse don’t need to know it’s in there.  In fact, they don’t need to know anything other than you made up your own Ranch dressing.

Green Goddess Salad
Author: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, leave washed, dried and torn into bite-size pieces
  • Any of the following:
  • Thinly sliced radishes
  • Chopped or sliced cucumber
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Cubed avocado
  • Raw or cooked corn kernels
  • Quartered hard-boiled eggs
  • Dressing:
  • ½ cup whole plain yogurt (regular or Greek)
  • 1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped chives
  • 2 Tablespoons basil leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped dill (if you have it)
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 1-2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste or two anchovy fillets
  • ½ - ¾ cup unrefined, cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil (depending on how thick or thin you like it)
  • ¾ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Place all dressing ingredients except oil, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor. With the motor running, slowly pour in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Toss lettuce in a serving bowl with enough dressing to coat lightly. Either toss remaining salad components separately with dressing or arrange on top of lettuce and drizzle with dressing.
Notes
The original Green Goddess dressing contains lots of tarragon. Feel free to experiment with other different fresh green herbs such as tarragon, cilantro, chervil or mint.

For a dairy-free version, use ½ cup silken tofu in place of the yogurt and increase lemon juice to 3 Tablespoons. I’m sure you could also substitute ½ of ripe avocado, but I haven’t tried that.