Balance Spring Meals with These Leafy Green Side Salads

By: Emily Lee

If you’ve visited your local farmers market lately, you may have noticed a spike in arugula, bok choy and other salad greens. The return of these leafy vegetables signals the end of produce purgatory, a period otherwise known as winter, when the only produce available to us seems to be root vegetables and cabbage.

If you feel your diet’s been lacking in fiber these last few months, then grab these springtime vegetables and start pairing your dinners with leafy green side salads. Here are five recipes that require little time and effort, but a whole lot of in-season produce.

You can find spinach year-round at most grocery stores, but the tender green peaks in freshness during the spring. Skip the saute pan for a change, and serve fresh spinach in its tender uncooked state with a red wine vinaigrette, chunks of tangy goat cheese and toasted walnuts. Add some grilled chicken for a simple yet balanced weeknight dinner.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

When you see bok choy you might think stir-fry, but the chefs in Food Network Kitchen decided to treat this in-season vegetable like a hearty green, wilting it and softening it in bacon drippings. Add big, creamy butter beans and a splash of vinegar for an acidic complement to the bacon. Serve it right out of the pan warm or at room temperature.

Tyler Florence - Watercress Salad with Dried Fruit and Almonds

Photo by: Adrian Mueller ©2012, Adrian Mueller / AMueller.com, Cooking Channel, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Adrian Mueller, 2012, Adrian Mueller / AMueller.com, Cooking Channel, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Tyler Florence’s simple watercress salad is the ultimate weeknight side dish, given that it requires just five ingredients and takes only five minutes to prepare. Just combine toasted almonds and dried cranberries with fresh watercress, then toss it all together with a quick red wine vinaigrette.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

The chefs in Food Network Kitchen decided to pair these bitter spring greens with fresh figs for a sweet counterpoint. If your figs are super-ripe, the texture will be almost creamy, similar to the soft egg yolks in the classic French salad of frisee, bacon and poached egg.

KO_FN_05ArugulaSalad1_007.tif

KO_FN_05ArugulaSalad1_007.tif

Food Stylist: Rebecca Jurkevich Prop Stylist: Pamela Duncan Silver

Photo by: Kana Okada © 2012, Kana Okada

Kana Okada, 2012, Kana Okada

Sweet honeydew is the perfect sidekick for peppery arugula. Food Network Magazine unites the two star players with a creamy lime dressing in this 15-minute salad recipe. You can even toss in some fresh herbs, such as mint or parsley, for an herbaceous flavor note.

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