Enjoying a spring salad is an excellent way to dispel the memories of winter and invite the sunshine of a new growing season into your kitchen.
Early spring is also the season for growing lettuce, if you enjoy gardening and have the time. Salads can become a meal or an accompaniment to grilled meat and fish.
Easily assembled, a cranberry chicken salad makes a great lunch served with pita chips. The chips are low in calories and are perfect for scooping up the salad.
The salad can be made quickly by buying pre-made grilled chicken chunks. The pre-made chicken is more expensive, so I suggest purchasing boneless, skinless chicken breast while on sale. If buying in quantity, you can cook them, slice them up and freeze the extra for future salad additions.
This salad is dressed up with dried cranberries, cherries and pecans. If you don’t care for this combination, other salad fruit/nut combinations can be used according to your preference.
Using baby spinach is not only healthy, but it adds color and diversity to your spring salad. Spinach is also a cool weather garden plant and should be planted in the early spring.
One salad I enjoy is made with baby spinach, salad greens, strawberries, kiwis, almonds, mushrooms, snow peas, mandarin oranges and red onion slices. A homemade poppy seed dressing, made with orange juice and honey, is poured over it. The combination of color and textures makes a beautiful salad for company.
Crisp fried bacon combined with broccoli, celery, onions, grapes and raisins creates a flavorful salad that can be eaten alone or presented with a meal.
And don’t forget, salad is great used as a bed for the light fare of grilled shrimp and fish. The recipe below is for a citrus marinade and a fresh basil vinaigrette. Once grilled, the shrimp are placed on a bed of spinach topped with sliced mango and onion, then sprinkled with crumbled goat cheese, raspberries and chopped pistachios and finally drizzled with the fresh basil vinaigrette.
3 cups washed baby spinach leaves
3 cups washed and torn salad greens
1 cup sliced strawberries
2 kiwi fruit, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup snow pea pods
1/4 cup mandarin orange slices
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
Toss together the spinach leaves, salad greens and other salad ingredients in a large bowl. For dressing, combine the orange juice, honey, mustard, poppy seeds, salt and pepper in a small bowl until well mixed. Toss the dressing with the salad or serve on the side.
Yield: Six servings
Cranberry Chicken Salad
1 pound chicken breast, cooked and diced
4 celery stalks with leaves, sliced
Cranberry, cherry, pecan mix (I use Good Sense Salad Pizzazz brand)
8 ounces romaine lettuce, chopped
1 carrot, shredded
1/2 to 1/3 cup mayonnaise
Combine all ingredients, except mayonnaise; toss lightly. Add mayonnaise in small amounts (I like to use a squeeze bottle if available). Stir gently to combine.
Serve on a large salad plate with pita chips for dipping.
Makes four servings.
Recipe source: Melissa Bedwell, La Monte.
Spring bacon broccoli salad
12 slices bacon
2 heads fresh broccoli, florets only
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 cup seedless green grapes
1 cup seedless red grapes
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup blanched slivered almonds
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/4 cup white sugar
Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside.
In a large bowl toss together the bacon, broccoli, celery, green onions, green grapes, red grapes, raisins and almonds.
Whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar and sugar. Pour dressing over salad and toss to coat. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Recipe source: allrecipes.com/recipe/spring-salad/detail.aspx
Tropical spinach salad with grilled shrimp
2 pounds unpeeled, large fresh shrimp
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
Whisk together all ingredients.
8 (12-inch) wooden skewers
2 (6-ounce) bags fresh baby spinach
2 mangoes, peeled and sliced
1 medium-size red onion, sliced
1 (3-ounce) package goat cheese, crumbled
1 cup fresh raspberries
1/2 cup chopped pistachio nuts
Fresh Basil Vinaigrette
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup raspberry vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Peel shrimp; devein, if desired. Place shrimp in a large zip-top plastic freezer bag, and add Citrus Marinade. Seal and shake to coat. Chill 1 hour.
Soak skewers in water to cover for 30 minutes. Remove shrimp from marinade, discarding marinade. Thread shrimp onto skewers.
Grill, covered with grill lid, over medium-high heat (350 to 400 degrees) two minutes on each side or just until shrimp turns pink. Remove shrimp from skewers.
Arrange baby spinach on a large serving platter. Top evenly with mango slices, onion slices, and grilled shrimp. Sprinkle with crumbled goat cheese, raspberries, and chopped pistachio nuts. Serve with Fresh Basil Vinaigrette.
Tropical Spinach Salad with Grilled Pork Tenderloin: Substitute two (1-pound) pork tenderloins for shrimp. Grill, covered with grill lid, over medium-high heat (350 to 400 degrees) 10 to 12 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 155 degrees. Let stand 10 minutes. Slice and serve as directed.
Tropical Spinach Salad with Grilled Chicken: Substitute six skinned and boned chicken breasts for shrimp. Grill, covered with grill lid, over medium-high heat (350 to 400 degrees) four minutes on each side or until done. Let stand 10 minutes. Slice and serve as directed.
Makes six servings.
Recipe source: “Southern Living Magazine.”