I love green salads. A crisp, lemony romaine salad? Smoked salmon and tomatoes nestled into creamy, dill-dressed greens? An arugula salad with grilled potatoes and blue cheese? Yes, please.
You know what I don’t love? The ubiquitous “garden salad” on restaurant menus. You know the one: wilted (if not decaying) “spring mix,” a few grated carrots, hard cherry tomatoes. That’s it. It’s bound to be a disapointment to anyone who’s ever seen an actual garden.
I’m out to redeem the name. This is a gardener’s garden salad. Luckily, you can also put together a reasonable version of it if you have access to a farmer’s market, or if you have a few herbs growing on your windowsill and the good sense to buy a gorgeous, tender head of lettuce.
It’s easy to get complacent about the garden when you live in Seattle. It rains, then it’s sunny, then it rains, so I tend to assume that everything is going ok out there without me. Today was the first day in a while that I really poked around, and I was pleased to find that it’s time to start making salads that grew in the backyard. (You may be lucky enough to live in a climate where your garden and farmers market have advanced beyond arugula and radishes. Rest assured, it’s never too late to make a great salad.)
The basic equation is this: some lettuce or baby kale, some soft herbs, some edible flowers, and a light coating of chive vinaigrette. Beyond that, it’s up to you. Today, our salad was baby leaves of lettuce, arugula, kale, and ruby chard, a few sorrel leaves cut into ribbons, parsley, cilantro, arugula flowers, kale flowers, chive flowers, and a couple of sliced radishes. Tomorrow, who knows?
Springtime Garden Salad: Pick or purchase some tender greens. Consider adding thin slices of radish or even baby zucchini if you are lucky enough to live somewhere much warmer than Seattle. Top with a big handful of soft herbs and edible flowers. Make a vinaigrette with 1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar, 2 Tbsp. olive oil, and a few blades of finely-snipped chives. Lightly dress the greens, turning them gently.
(Insert audible gasp here) This is beautiful!
Oh my, that looks just amazing.
I hate what passes for “spring salad” in restaurants too. Usually it’s just been pulled out of a bag and some of the leaves are mushy and decomposed by the time they plate it. So bad!
But this is the pure essence of spring. Such a stunning composition too. Goes to show that nothing beats greens straight from the garden. I love how you threw in the kale and arugula flowers. So pretty!
ooooh that looks good. I love to eat arugula flowers–first tried them last summer and suddenly I was tossing them into everything! we’re still some weeks off from them here in the Northeast (at least my corner of it), if you can imagine that…though it was suddenly 95 degrees in the shade yesterday, so the whole edible landscape may have transformed overnight!
It looks so beautiful! I wish I had a garden…
Looks simply fresh and beautiful! I’m with you 100% on the ‘garden salad’…this is the real deal! :)
Yes: “The ubiquitous “garden salad” on restaurant menus. You know the one: wilted (if not decaying) “spring mix,” a few grated carrots, hard cherry tomatoes.” What is so hard about creating a beautiful salad?? No imagination…thank goodness for food bloggers!
Oh, it’s beautiful! I need to wait a bit longer before my lettuces are ready…
This is lovely! I am pinning it!
I’m re-reading the UNCOOK book. Juliano puts edible flowers on everything. I don’t even know where you find such things if you don’t have a garden! Lovely.
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