by Allie Beckemeyer, MSc, Holistic Nutritionist
Herbed salad with Spring greens from the farmers market! Learn more about the benefits of eating seasonally and get this delicious herbed salad recipe by Holistic Nutritionist Allie Beckemeyer of Allume Wellness.
The gorgeous blooms and warmer days kissed with sunshine mark the arrival of spring! With spring comes the arrival of a new crop of seasonal produce in the markets: the verdant green of pea shoots, deep red of sweet strawberries, and delicate fragrance of dill. This transition in produce and frequency of warmer days marks the easy slip from the warming, cooked comfort dishes of winter into more raw dishes, bursting with earthy, bright, herbaceous flavors.
The best way to keep track of what is in “season” is to make a trip to your local farmers market. Chat with the farmers to see what they recommend – follow your nose, your eyes, and their passions to get the pulse on the best market buys. If they can’t stop talking about the lettuce they have this week, it might be worth trying! Expand your produce knowledge by reaching for unfamiliar varietals and asking the farmers how they might prepare them. Making the most of your trips to the farmers market will help you develop relationships with the farmers, too – they may start saving the best of the bunch for you!
One of my favorite (and easy) springtime side dishes is an herbed salad. Now, in some minds, the word “salad” may evoke images of stale salad bars with wilted iceberg lettuce and cold bacon bits, failed dieting attempts, or tasteless, boring workday lunches. If this is you, prepare to be amazed! The key to a salad done correctly, besides the dressing of course, is the combination of leaves and herbs. You can layer flavors of peppery, bitter, light and crunchy, and that is just with the leaves. Not only does a combination like this taste better, it also allows for the incorporation of a variety of nutrients. Mixed green salads have fiber that aids in digestion and detoxification, as well as key minerals like phosphorous, potassium, copper, iron, and magnesium. Watercress, for instance, has the important blood-clotting vitamin K (and the olive oil in the dressing helps the body absorb it!). Bitter leaves like arugula and dandelion stimulate the liver, increasing bile production, fat digestion, and more efficient absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (like the vitamin K from the watercress and vitamin A in the butter lettuce!). Cilantro helps the body detoxify heavy metals, and dill has the collagen-boosting vitamin C and folate, which supports red blood cell and DNA production. Mix your greens and herbs to enjoy a variety of health benefits in addition to greater flavor complexity.
One of my favorite salad combinations consists of butter lettuces, watercress, dandelion, cilantro, dill, and mint leaves. With a little lemon vinaigrette, this mixture is delicious, gorgeous, light and incredibly healthy! Store your herbs in glasses of water in the fridge, and keep the leaves in a plastic bag or container with plenty of air. Get creative with your herb and lettuce combinations – taste each on its own first and then create a stunning salad “bouquet”. Check out the recipe below and enjoy experimenting with your farmers markets finds!
Herbed Salad Recipe
Ingredients (serves 1):
- 2 cups total, mixture of lettuces. Aim to vary colors, textures, and flavors.
- Peppery: Arugula, watercress
- Sweet/crisp: Spinach, romaine, butter lettuce
- Bitter: Radicchio, treviso, dandelion
- 1/2 cup of each, fresh: mint, dill, cilantro, & parsley
- 2 tbsp French lemon vinaigrette (whisk all ingredients until incorporated)
- 4 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oils
- 1 tsp of Dijon mustard
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- Dollop of raw honey
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of herbs de Provence
- Optional: 1/2 of a finely chopped shallot
- 1/8 tsp kosher salt
- Few cracks of fresh pepper
- Optional: freshly sliced avocado
Directions: Mix all ingredients in bowl & serve with a sandwich, vegetable omelet, or grilled fish!