Jazzing Up Your Spring Salads
By Brenda Hyde
Spring is a wonderful time to be bold and try
some mixed greens in your salads, rather than
the old standby lettuce we all grew up with. Most
produce sections have a nice variety of lettuce
and greens. Some lettuce like romaine, is great
on it's own, while some are slightly bland alone
and other greens are too overpowering. That's
why a mix is so nice. Start with a romaine, bibb or
Boston lettuce and mix in a little chicory, endive or
radicchio. Spinach is also a nice green. You'll also
find dandelion greens available this time of year.
You want to start with the base of lettuce and add
a little of the others.
Greens and lettuce should be washed and stored
in the refrigerator after purchasing. Wash with
very cold water, then trim off any bad looking
leaves or cut off edges that may be browned.
These are great for the compost pile. Spin dry
in a salad spinner or pat dry with paper towels.
You can store them right in the spinner or in a
sealed plastic bag or bowl. Use within one week.
As the week goes on you may need to cut off
any edges that look mushy or browned.
If you grow your own lettuce and greens it's best
to pick it when you need it. Any of the greens can
be picked a leaf or two at a time, except for the
heads of lettuce, but those can be harvested small.
Only pick what you need and you'll have fresh salads
everyday! Lastly, tear, don't cut your greens. I have
done it both ways-always cutting when I'm in a hurry
and don't think about it. The leftover salad is starting
to become soggy the next day! Torn lettuce will not
do this as quickly. Also, tomatoes should be added
just before serving and not to the entire bowl. I've
found they are very soggy the next day.
Italian Bread Salad
1 loaf crusty bread
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 cup cucumber - peeled and seeded
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
3 cups salads greens, torn
1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
Pull apart or chop the bread into bite-size pieces. I like
using a really crusty, even day old, artisan or Italian
type bread. They come in great flavors-basil, garlic,
etc, and will be marked down the next day. Combine
the bread, cucumbers, red onions and garlic in a large
salad bowl. Add the tomatoes at the table. This is nice
with a simple Italian dressing or vinaigrette. You can
also throw in sprigs of fresh herbs such as oregano,
thyme or basil.
Colorful Mixed Salad
2 hardboiled eggs
2-3 cups assorted salad greens
1/2 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 small cucumber, julienne thinly
2 large carrots, shredded
Ranch or Thousand Island Dressing
Peel and chop the hardboiled eggs and set aside.
Place the torn lettuce on each plate. Mix together
the peppers, the cucumber and the carrots. Top
the lettuce with a handful of this mixture. Top that
with the eggs-a little on each salad. Serve the
dressing on the side.
Grapes and Greens
1 cup seedless red or green grapes
2 tsp. olive oil
1 tablespoon wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
1 shallot, chopped (can sub tbsp. mild onion)
2 tsp. prepared mustard
1/4 tsp. crushed dried tarragon
4 cups torn mixed salad greens
2 tsp. walnut or pecan pieces
Croutons or toasted crusty bread
Rinse grapes-remove any stems and set
aside. Whisk together the oil, vinegar, lemon
juice, water, onion, tarragon and pepper until
well blended. Combine the greens, grapes
and nuts in a salad bowl. Serve with dressing
and croutons or toasted/broiled bread. Notes:
You can add Parmesan cheese, or use another
herb such as oregano or basil.
Mediterranean Tuna Salad
4 cups mixed fresh greens
1/4 pound fresh green beans
12 ounces tuna (the new packets are nice)
2 tablespoons capers (optional)
1 can, 15 ounces, white beans-any type
1 large tomato, chopped
12 ripe Greek olives
snipped fresh chives
1/4 cup Italian dressing
Cook the green beans in lightly salted water
about 5 minutes or until JUST tender, drain.
Rinse with very cold water and drain again.
Place the greens on a platter with the beans
in the center. Rinse and drain the beans, then
arrange with the, tuna, and olives around those.
Top with the capers and chives. Serve with the
dressing. Notes: this salad often doesn't have
greens but I really like it this way. You can leave
off the beans if you wish and it's good too. Good
Seasons makes a great no fat Italian dressing that
you make fresh.
I use some bottled dressing, buying it when
it's on sale, so I always have it on hand, but
homemade dressing is great with fresh greens!
Try one of these recipes with your mixed salad.
Lowfat Savory Dressing
1/2 cup evaporated lowfat milk
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp. finely chopped onion
1 tsp. Dijon style mustard
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
Combine all ingredients. Chill and
Fat Free Celery Onion Dressing
2 cups celery, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 cup green onion, chopped roughly
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper or less if desired
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 tablespoons water
Process in a blender or food processor until
smooth. Use right away or make ahead and
chill. Stir before serving.
Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer, wife and mom
to three kids living in the Midwest United States.
For more dressing recipes and tips on growing
your own greens and herbs visit Brenda at