One of my favorite things about spring is the fresh lettuce at the farmers markets and the return of the amazing flavors of fresh vegetables and herbs. When spring finally arrives we are all excited for radishes, peas, fresh strawberries, and greens. These spring salad recipes are the perfect way to really showcase spring produce and celebrate the return of warm weather and everything green!
Seasonal Eating for Spring
We try to eat seasonally as much as possible. In the winter, this means focusing on a lot of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, winter squash, beets, and tubers. These usually make their way into soup or stews in the Instant Pot, but it’s also possible to eat them in a roasted vegetable salad like this one.
As much as I love those veggies, when spring finally arrives it just naturally feels like time to make a change and lighten things up.
One strategy of course is just to pile all the fruits and veggies together in whatever way sounds tasty (topped off with one of these homemade salad dressings). If you’re looking for a more nuanced approach, here are some of the spring salads that are especially winning combinations:
1. Spring Salad With Honey Mustard
I was so excited when a local farmer started selling his homemade goat cheese at our farmer’s market. I can now get all of the ingredients for this salad (one of my all-time favorites) locally and inexpensively when they are in season. It tops fresh greens with grain-free breaded chicken, fresh strawberries, pecans, goat cheese, and dried fruit with a honey mustard dressing.
This is a kid and adult favorite at our house for sure, and filling enough for a meal. There’s something in it to please even the pickiest eaters (because breaded chicken fingers), but helps kids see the fun of a colorful healthy plate.
I do make the honey mustard dressing from scratch, but since I discovered these store-bought dressings with awesome ingredients I usually have those at the ready in the fridge as well.
2. Strawberry Feta Salad
Strawberries and greens is one of my absolute favorite ways to do a salad. (Obviously, since it’s very similar to the recipe above!) If the honey mustard or goat cheese on my Spring Salad just isn’t your thing, this version features lots of freshness and just a light drizzle of olive oil. Tangy feta and some crunchy pecans and cashews round out the mix. Until spinach is in season, I substitute any leafy green.
This salad would go wonderfully with a scoop of Grilled Citrus Chicken Salad as well!
3. Fish Taco Salad
For years, I refused to try fish tacos because I couldn’t imagine how it could possibly be good! (Fish on a salad?!) I finally tried them in college when they were the nightly special at a favorite restaurant. Surprise, surprise… I absolutely loved them! Just goes to show you should try new things. (Are you listening kids?)
After going grain-free and vegetable oil-free, flour tortillas weren’t on the menu, but I still occasionally craved the flavors of fish tacos. This salad was my solution. We top it with baked fish as well as fermented beets or sauerkraut for a kick, and avocado for creaminess. I also sometimes add fresh sour cream or raw cheese if we’re doing dairy.
4. Color Burst Salad
Ever eaten at a Japanese restaurant where they serve salad with a ginger dressing? I loved that dressing and figured out how to recreate it at home with fresh ingredients. It inspired this salad which I often use as a quick lunch option with leftover chicken or beef.
Top fresh greens with chicken, sunflower seeds, fermented beets or sauerkraut, and raisins and it makes a delicious and fresh meal. Surprisingly, I’ve even eaten this one for breakfast.
The dressing here is an Asian Coconut Ginger Vinaigrette made with coconut milk and fresh ginger root. I can’t even take it as I’m sitting here typing this… I want to make this right now!
5. Cucumber Salad Recipe
Granted, this recipe is best a little later in the season when cucumbers are in season, but it fits the bill for light and fresh. I make this often in the spring and early summer and it’s always a crowd-pleaser at potlucks and picnics. It is a healthier take on the traditional cucumber salad and it combines cucumbers and red onions in a sweet vinegar marinade.
This salad is super simple to prep but takes about 2 hours to marinate in the fridge so plan ahead a bit.
And a Bonus… Radish Cream Cheese Dip!
Ok, I know, this isn’t a salad and I’m totally cheating by putting it in here. Still, radishes are one spring vegetable we often don’t know what to do with and that deserve a little more appreciation! They are a great veggie to grow in the garden with kids because they are fast-growing and one of the first crops to pop up in spring.
While they may be too zesty for some kids (or adults) to eat by themselves, paired with cool cream cheese they add the perfect amount of zip to a dip! Serve alongside a salad with carrots or cucumbers for dipping, or with grain-free crackers.
What is your favorite spring salad when the weather turns warm? Share below!