If you enjoy eating seasonally, the first day of spring probably feels like Christmas to you. Now that April is here, it's only a matter of time before the farmers' market opens up and beautiful greens begin to proliferate our plates and fill our fridges!
Salads can be either fabulous or boring, depending on how they are made. A salad loaded with succulent berries, crisp and flavorful greens, crunchy nuts, pungent herbs, fresh cheeses and a tasty vinaigrette are a food lover's dream, but flavorless iceberg lettuce paired with out-of-season tomatoes and a bland dressing is a whole different animal. Fill your plate with the highest quality food items and you're bound to love eating these healthy dishes.
When it comes to consuming plant-based meals, seasonality is beneficial to the veggies' flavor profile. No one would compare freshly picked tomatoes to the variety found in the grocery store come mid-December. Depending on where you live, you'll want to use certain items on your spring salads.
Northeasterners may not enjoy native citrus, but they've got greens going for them: Arugula, often described as "peppery" in taste, grows throughout the Northeast region and can reach up to two feet in height. Come May, arugula will be plentiful here. Chard, various herbs, garlic, green onions, lettuce, morels, nettles, parsnips and rhubarb also start showing their faces come about mid-May, but you'll have to wait until June or July to enjoy two of our favorite salad items: kale and kohlrabi.
Southerners are known for their comfort foods, but they can make a mean spring salad, too. Collard greens are seasonal here year-round, but a variety of delicious produce thrives during the Southern spring. In addition to staples like asparagus, beets and broccoli, this region enjoys items like cabbage, sweet onions, cauliflower and lettuce during the spring months.
The Midwest is a big place, so seasonality here is largely dependent on how far north you live. As a general rule, the Midwest spring boasts favorites like arugula, cabbage, asparagus, carrots, chard, herbs like parsley and cilantro, garlic, mushrooms and morels, parsnips and radishes.
The Southwest boasts warm sunshine all year long, so it's no surprise that salads thrive in this region at all times of year. Nonetheless, there are a few staples that come out to say hello as the popular avocado says goodbye for the warm months.
Talk about delicious salad toppings! Native spring foods here include apricots, asparagus, black and blueberries, celery (which starts to taper off come mid-April), cucumbers, green beans, nectarines and mint.
The Pacific Northwest's wet winters give way to a plentiful harvest of fresh spring ingredients come April - this is just one of the reasons we love this unique climate. Some of our favorite Pacific Northwestern salad ingredients are arugula, beets, basil and other herbs, cabbage, boysenberries (which start to reach their peak in June), chard, cherries, fiddleheads, fava beans, green onions, kale and lettuce.
Balsamic vinaigrette with olive oil and a touch of pepper make for a delightful dressing that goes well with any salad. To create a fabulous dressing, simply reduce a few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar over low heat. Remove from heat and whisk in some olive oil, with about a 3:1 ration of olive oil to vinegar, depending on your taste. Stir in a bit of sugar (also to taste) and you have a lovely dressing to top off any healthy salad.
Categories: Food & Recipes