I want to share the basics for what I think makes a great spring salad. Many typical salad vegetables are not yet at the market, so concentrate on getting various elements of green instead. I love mustard greens as the base of a spring salad. They are really spicy on their own, but mellow out beautifully when combined with another green, like spinach or arugula. I had come to feel quite apprehensive about putting spinach in salads. I think that I had been continuously disappointed by the mediocre leaves that abound in supermarkets in plastic boxes and microwavable bags, and came to see it as a second class green. However, the other day I found some amazing spinach leaves at Loni's farmstand, which made me enthusiastic about spinach again. There is such a mind- blowing difference between the spinach that comes in a bag or box at the supermarket, and the big, bright, sweet, thick leaves you can find from a local farm stand. Mind- blowing, really.
To add a hint of color to your salad, get some radishes. You can even include the radish greens in the mix if you would like. Slice them thinly and let them sit in a small bowl with rice vinegar and some water (lemon juice works too). I love the addition of herbs and flowers for color, texture, and flavor. For the salad pictured, I used arugula flowers, as well as some small purple flowers that I had picked up a week before. For $3 you can brighten up your daily salad for a good week with edible flowers. It is a small investment for an everyday pick-me-up. As for the herbs, I have used basil, micro lemon basil, cilantro, parsley, and marjoram in many salad variations, and have loved every result. I always encourage people to buy 1-2 herb bunches per week, both familiar and unfamiliar, and throw them into your recipes somewhat haphazardly. I think herbs should be eaten with most dishes during the warmer months, and that one should experiment and get to know as many as possible. I am always trying varieties of basil, mint, oregano, etc. Once you get to know them, you can be more targeted with your usage. Anyway, just a handful of herbs in the salad will do. To make a salad more substantial, I will add a few hardboiled eggs and some garbanzos. The eggs from Loni's farm stand are so delicious, that you won't mind spending $6 on a dozen. The garbanzos are because I always have a can of them in my cupboard, but you could also use cannelinni or lentils. Make a vinaigrette for the dressing, or simply drizzle some high quality extra virgin olive oil and squeeze a fresh lemon. Season with freshly ground black pepper and sea salt. Let us know what greens you like in your spring salads!