Fast Food Fridays : Summer Salads

Title: Springing into Summer with Salad

By: Hillary Monroe, MS RD LDN, Registered Dietitian and writer for Everyday Health Calorie Counter.

Spring is here, and not a moment too soon! As temperatures start to thaw out here in New England, fresh, local fruits and vegetables start to trickle in. One of my favorite nods to the season is to highlight local produce – and often a salad can be a way to let the freshness of that produce steal the show. Beginning May and June, asparagus, spring onions and arugula are available locally. Other fruits and vegetables start to appear as the summer goes on, but since it’s still early, I say we take advantage of these as we spring into summer.

Asparagus: Did you know these green stalks are high in folic acid and are a good source of potassium, vitamins A, C as well as some B vitamins? Asparagus is also a good source of fiber, which helps with digestion. This vegetable is surprisingly versatile when it comes to salads.

First: Trim the asparagus of the woody ends; snap one where it bends naturally and then cut the rest to be the same length.

Second: Steam for 1 minute, or until just softened but still crisp on your stove. Plunge the asparagus into ice water to stop the cooking and keep them bright green.

The chilled asparagus spears make up the base of the salad and the rest is up to you. I like to add thinly sliced red onions, shaved Parmesan cheese, drizzled with a white wine vinegar dressing – don’t forget the heart-healthy oil from the vinaigrette helps absorb fat-soluble vitamins (A,D,E,K).

Other variations include shaved pink radishes with sesame ginger vinaigrette or walnuts and goat cheese tossed in a sherry vinegar dressing.

Spring onion: These are just simply young onions. The taste is milder than an onion and pairs nicely with many other ingredients. Try slicing these into thin rounds and sprinkling them over any salad to give it a new freshness and kick.

Arugula: The peppery, mustard-like leafy green is an excellent source of Vitamin A. Some find it too strong on its own for a salad, but it pairs nicely as a component. Try mixing it in with other salad greens for an unexpected bite.

Later on this summer, watermelon will be available. Watermelon is high in lycopene, important for cardiovascular health – and it makes for a refreshing salad.
Best part, it’s 4 ingredients: combine cubed watermelon, thinly sliced mint leaves and crumbled feta cheese with a red wine vinegar dressing. Sweet, salty and savory all in one bite!

While we only touched on spring produce, I hope this inspires you to check out what’s local and available in your area so you can make the most of your salad this season!

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