Spring greens: Six ideas to kick off salad season using fresh ingredients

It’s time to dust off those salad tongs and stock up on greens because salad season is here again.

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Ruby and emerald salad

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Citrus salmon salad

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Blood orange and kiwi salad

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Salad bar staple salad

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A little bit of Mexico salad

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Savory and crunchy chicken salad

Sure, thanks to year-round availability, it can be salad season anytime, but over the next few weeks the locally grown greens will be popping up, both at the Lawrence Farmers Market and in early vegetable gardens around town.

So if you haven’t been making salads all winter — or have been buying pre-made or restaurant salads — it’s time for a little inspiration.

Using the three most common and healthy salad bases (no iceberg lettuce, thank you very much) — baby spinach, spring mix and romaine — I’ve created a few starter salads to get you going as the weather gets warmer.

Each of these salads is designed to be perfectly customizable. Most quantities are up to you, so if you like strawberries so much you can’t bare to throw in too much baby spinach, go for it.

The dressings are also up to you. A drizzle of high-quality olive oil and white balsamic (as to not stain your perfectly good salad) are perfect for each salad, except the Mexican-inspired one, which would do better with a squirt of lime than balsamic for tartness. That said, if you have a favorite pre-made dressing in your fridge or pantry, go for it.

The rule here is that there are no rules. Because that’s how the best salads evolve: by playing with things you know you like and figuring out what combination of sweet/savory/salty works for you.

So, give these flavor combinations a whirl and then change them up. There’s a lot of salad season left to get it just right. Maybe so right that you won’t want to give it up as it grows cold again.

Ruby and emerald salad

Per salad:

  • Baby spinach
  • Strawberries, quartered
  • Pine nuts or pecans
  • Soft cheese (goat cheese recommended), optional
  • Layer in a bowl, top with dressing and enjoy.

Citrus Salmon Salad

Per salad:

  • Baby spinach
  • 1 tangerine
  • Salmon, canned or baked
  • 1/4 avocado
  • Soft cheese (feta recommended)
  • Layer in bowl, top with dressing and enjoy.

Blood Orange and Kiwi Salad

Per salad:

  • Spring mix
  • 1 blood orange
  • 1 kiwi, peeled and sliced
  • Pine nuts
  • Soft cheese (goat cheese recommended)
  • Layer in bowl, top with dressing and enjoy.

Salad Bar Staple Salad

Per salad:

  • Spring mix
  • 1/2 cup peas (not canned)
  • Handful grape tomatoes
  • Handful sliced button mushrooms
  • Layer in bowl, top with dressing and enjoy.

Savory and Crunchy Chicken Salad

Per salad:

  • Romaine
  • Roast chicken, sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
  • Garlic green olives, sliced
  • Layer in bowl, top with dressing and enjoy.

A Little Bit of Mexico Salad

Per salad:

  • Romaine
  • Handful grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • Handful sliced button mushrooms
  • Jalapeño olives, sliced
  • 1/4 avocado, chopped
  • Salsa and tortilla chips, for garnish
  • Layer in bowl, top with dressing and enjoy.

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