All About Those Special Spring Salads

Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Local Cook

Chesapeake Spring Salad was created for many of my cooking classes

There is no telling where the salads of spring will end when you have a kitchen garden going and make use of many creative recipes. Not long ago a few of sought out some fresh lunch food after visiting the Silver Spring farmers market. We ended up at a kebab house in Rockville where the salad along side the meat kebab was totally herbs. I was inspired as it tasted so fresh and …why not?

In case the container garden (on the Homestead Gardens Blog) appeals to you, here is a super short and sweet ‘Growing Salad Bowls’ video made by ‘Cooking Up a Story’ featuring Rainyway Farm in Portland, OR which shows the planting tricks.

Here’s a salad that wins fans not matter the time of year. You can always find some seasonal fruit, but the first strawberries…straight from the field are superb! Make the nuts any ol’ time as they are simple and addictive.

Chesapeake Spring Salad
Serves 6

  • 6 cups spring salad greens including arugula
  • 2 cups fresh strawberries, cleaned and stems removed
  • 1/2 cup “Chesapeake Honey” Walnuts (see below)
  • Chapel Country Creamery Cave Aged Cheese Cheddar, shaved with a vegetable peeler
  • Herbes de Local Vinaigrette (see below)

‘Chesapeake Honey’ Walnuts

  • 1 1/2 cups walnut halves
  • 1/2 cup local honey
  • sprinkle sea salt

Place the walnuts on a greased microwave safe plate. Drizzle with honey and toss. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Microwave for 2-3 minutes, tossing every minute to coat. Spread warm nuts on wax paper in a single layer to cool.

Herbes de Local Vinaigrette

Notes on the lemon: Remember to zest before you squeeze as it stumps folks every time!

  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 fresh small clove  garlic, minced
  • chopped zest and juice of 1 medium lemon
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (parsley, basil, oregano, thyme)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • freshly ground pepper

To make the Vinaigrette: in a small food processor, combine all ingredients and blend for 45 seconds to 1 minute until emulsified. You can also use an immersion blender to combine the vinaigrette.

To assemble the salad: Place the in a large salad bowl and toss with a light amount of vinaigrette. Top with strawberries or melon cubes, walnuts and cheese shavings. Drizzle lightly with additional vinaigrette.

an herb basket at Homestead Gardens

Spring Herb Citrus Vinaigrette and Marinade

Makes about 1 cup

  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic/scallions (white and tender green parts)_
  • 1-2 Dragon chiles
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mixed fresh oregano, or thyme, anise hyssop, rosemary (or a combination)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground  pepper

In a mortar and pestle (or in a food processor) mince garlic/scallions, and chiles and mash to a paste with 1/4 teaspoon salt, then whisk together with orange and lime juices,  honey, mixed herbs, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Add oil in a slow  stream, whisking until well blended, and whisk in pepper.

Herb Salad Spectacular

Eating a plateful of fresh herbs right out of the garden is extravagant indeed, when November through April sees us resort (wincingly) to plunking down four dollars for a few precious sprigs of fresh herbs encased in a little plastic box. When it calls for herbs, make use of those growing in your garden. Arugula and sorrel are considered herbs in case you didn’t know, but also load the salad up with flatleaf parsley (for health’s sake), cilantro and basil leaves.

  • 6 cups mixed salad greens and herbs, stems trimmed, washed and dried

For the dressing

  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Place salad greens and herbs in a large bowl. Combine olive oil, Place vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper in a small bowl; Slowly whisk in olive oil until emulsified.

Pour the dressing over greens-herbs mixture and toss to coat well.

This salad goes well with roasted chicken or poached fish. Or, heap it on a thick slice of bread that’s been brushed with olive oil or butter and then grilled or toasted under the broiler. 

Garden Vegetable Spring Salad

Serves 4

Spring is the optimal time of year for a body cleansing. Much of the more feisty and slightly bitter young greens are especially beneficial along with radishes, daikon and cucumber. You’ll notice that the spicy greens are tossed with the vinaigrette while the garden greens (of your choice) line the plates.

  • 2 cups young spicy greens
  • 1 cup thinly sliced radishes or grated daikon
  • 1 thinly sliced small yellow bell pepper
  • 4 thin asparagus, lightly steamed & sliced 2” lengths
  • 1 medium cucumber, very thinly sliced
  • Citrus Vinaigrette (recipe above)
  • 4 cups garden greens

In a medium bowl mix the spicy greens, radishes,bell pepper, asparagus, cucumber, and just enough Citrus Vinaigrette to moisten. Line plates with the garden greens and top with the tossed veggie mixture serve more vinaigrette on the side.



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