Katie's Healthy Bites: Get Fresh Salad Ideas

Here’s a quick guide to building a delicious, in-season salad from the greens to the toppings.
BUTTER_LETTUCE_HERB_SALAD_007.tif

BUTTER_LETTUCE_HERB_SALAD_007.tif

Food stylist: Jamie Kimm Prop Stylist: Marina Malchin

Photo by: Antonis Achilleos

Antonis Achilleos

The fruits of the harvest are always bursting with crispness and flavor, reminding us of the freshness of the season.  Here’s a quick guide to building a delicious, in-season salad from the bottom to the top. Read our tips, then tell us your favorite way to dress up greens.

Begin With Green:  If you are bored with baby spinach and salad greens, mix it up with escarole, endive, dandelion greens, baby beet greens, kale, collards, mustard greens, arugula, watercress, radicchio or mache.

Add Some Color: Toss in sliced radishes, snap peas, artichokes, asparagus, baby portabellas, broccoli, shallots, spring onions (scallions) or leeks.

Fruit it Up! Depending on where you live, citrus fruits might still be in season! There’s still time to add some tang to your salad by adding fresh oranges, tangerines, grapefruits or fresh squeezed lemon juice. Toward the end of spring, berries like strawberries, blueberries and blackberries begin to ripen. These antioxidant-rich fruits will be a sweet addition to any savory salad.

Add Fresh Herbs: Fresh herbs are here with the spring and can add flavor and pizzazz to when mixed in with any salad greens (like in Food Network Magazine's cilantro- and parsley-studded salad). Toss in sprigs of parsley, cilantro, chives, oregano, dill or basil to give your salad some extra spice. Remember, a little goes a long way!

Can’t Forget the Crunch: Add a small handful of your favorite nut for additional protein and heart healthy fats.  If possible, go for raw and unsalted nuts to cut back on added oils and sodium.  Pecans, sliced almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds and pistachios are great additions to any spring salad. Mung bean, alfalfa and broccoli sprouts are also in season and are a great way to add crunch (and vitamin C) to your salad!

Pack on the Protein: Make your salad a complete meal with a protein-rich topping. Add a hard-boiled, poached or fried egg and leave the drippy yolk to act as a natural dressing.  Or crumble a little of a flavorful cheese like ricotta salata, shaved parmesan, gorgonzola or goat cheese on top for added flavor and calcium.  Seafood and shellfish pair well with citrus, and meats like prosciutto and pancetta crisp up nicely and crumble as a perfectly salty topping to finish your masterpiece. Cooked beans such as garbanzo, cannellini, fava or black beans are also a great addition for vegan or vegetarian salads.

Garnish:  Let edible flowers be the finishing touch to your spring masterpiece.  Pansies, bachelor’s buttons, carnations, chive blossoms and nasturtiums are all beautiful and blossoming this spring! Just make sure the flowers are safe to eat before adding them to the top of your salad!

A Few Mix-and-Match Salad Combos to Try:

• Arugula or watercress, tangerines, shallots, goat milk cheese and sliced almonds

• Mixed baby greens, fresh strawberries, gorgonzola cheese and toasted pecans

• Baby spinach, artichokes, tuna, sauteed mushrooms and kalamata olives

Katie Cavuto Boyle, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian, personal chef and owner of HealthyBites, LLC . Leslie Peck also contributed to this article.

What's your favorite market-fresh salad combo?  Tell us in the comments below.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Katie's Healthy Bites: More Homemade Gift Ideas

As a chef, I love using my culinary creativity when giving gifts, and these are a few ideas I've tried that foodies will appreciate and be sure to use.

Katie’s Healthy Bites: Summer Salads

Beat the heat of the season, with a light, refreshing, summer salad! It’s finally time for some really fresh produce. Experiment with seasonal fruits and vegetables from your local farmer’s market. Next time you go to a neighborhood barbeque use these tips and bring a salad that will leave your friends wanting more than just hot dogs and hamburgers.

Katie's Healthy Bites: Spring for Fresh Chives

Chives are, by far, one of my favorite herbs: They're crisp, fresh, and their mild onion flavor can brighten any dish. Find out three of my favorite ways to use this smallest member of the onion family.

Katie's Healthy Bites: Refreshing Berry Spritzer & Fridge Tea

On a hot day, one of my favorite treats is a refreshing summer drink. Here are two recipes I always enjoy: Berry Spritzer and Refrigerator Tea. Mix some up today!

Katie's Healthy Bites: No-Cook Corn Salad

This heat has me steering clear of the stove, but that does not mean I can’t enjoy the flavors of the season! This no-cook corn salad gets a refreshing crunch from jicama and bell pepper that will satisfy your summer veggie cravings with nothing more than a little chopping.

Katie's Healthy Bites: 4 Get-You-Going Breakfasts

Your breakfast doesn't have to be elaborate -- just make sure it packs a powerful punch. Check out four of my favorite breakfast recipes for the busy workweek.