Earth Day Recipe: Seasoning Your Spring Salad

Celebrate spring and Earth Day with fresh, organic meals like saladsApril 20, 2012

With Earth Day upon us, we should really be thinking about what ingredients go into our bodies, during our daily meals. What’s the best? What’s the healthiest? What’s the most beneficial? One particular meal that’s always healthy and satisfying is a fresh salad. Here are several tips to help you turn an ordinary salad into a beneficial meal, not only for you, but also for the Earth.

It’s springtime and if you’re a season-conscious shopper, you may have noticed the new additions to the produce aisle. If you’re looking to stir up salads that reflect the season (and are loaded with flavor) check out which foods you should add to your salad this spring.

While you change your wardrobe, linens, (and possibly attitude) and embrace the spring season, why not change the ingredients in your salad? Stock up on the fruits and vegetables that taste best this time of year and make your salads as refreshing as the new season. Here’s a breakdown of the ingredients you’ll need for the most seasoned salads this spring.

1. The Base
Ditch the tough, bitter lettuces, such as Valdor and Romaine, for lettuces that taste best during the springtime. Grown year-round but thriving in the cooler temperatures of the spring and fall seasons, lettuces such as arugula, Bibb, Boston, mache and mesclun (a mix of lettuces usually including chervil, arugula, and endive) harvest best in the spring. Their light, leafy and crispy features make them perfect for mixing. Spinach serves as another great salad base that is most tender in spring.

Celebrate spring and Earth Day with fresh, organic meals like saladsLook for these lettuces in your local farmers’ markets, to not only taste the fruits of spring, but to minimize your impact on the environment by cutting yourself off from the energy used to transport mass-produced lettuces. Watch out for blemishes and opt for leaves that look bright and fresh.

2. The Toppings
Whether you’re looking to add one, two or a dozen ingredients to the mix, check out which ingredients are tastiest during the spring season in order to optimize your salad experience. Artichokes, peas, watercress, chives, papayas and turnips are each harvested in spring, and with a little taste-testing and pairing can create a one-of-a-kind salad.

Celebrate spring and Earth Day with fresh, organic meals like saladsOrange slices are another great ingredient for spring salads, adding the juice an otherwise dry salad may lack. Before you add this citrus punch, however, know which type of orange you’re using and whether you’re looking for a sweet or sour taste. Mix navel oranges with moro (blood) oranges, as seen in this Sicilian Blood Orange salad, for rich and unique dish. Blood oranges are usually available in stores between January and April, so get them while you can!

3. The Dressings
Sprinkle your salads with homemade dressings that blend the best flavors and complement your salad’s spring taste. Lemon juice, garlic, oil, salt and pepper combined create an easy and zesty dressing for any salad. The Meyor lemon, a cross between a lemon and orange that is native to China, can be used in a variety of dressings, including this creamy lemon and shallot dressing and this lighter lemon, orange and ginger one. You can combine spring’s finest ingredients in Urban Poser’s arugula, blood orange and poppy seed salad.

Celebrate spring and Earth Day with fresh, organic meals like saladsWhether you’ve spotted the fruits of spring in your grocery store or local farmer’s market or not, the ingredients for an all-new, fresh salad are out there. Research which spring harvests might hold the key to your next spring salad and get tasting!

To make your salad tasty and eco-friendly, try to buy locally produced goods. Tools like the Sustainable Table’s local food finder can help you find which products are available in your neighborhood this spring.

-Alivia Ashenfarb

Photo Credit: Flickr/Laurel Fan, Flickr/SweetOnVeg, Flickr/minwoo, Flickr/ccharmon, Flickr/Nick Harris 1