3 Spring Salads to Get You Out of a Salad Rut

Sometimes, salads are an afterthought, a placeholder to fill out the plate and sneak some vegetables into a meal. But these salads may just steal the show! Here we have three alternative and lettuce-less salads to expand your idea of what a salad can be.

Grilled Romaine

So you’ve done a lot of grilling, we’re sure, but have you grilled lettuce? Romaine is sturdy enough to hold up on a grill, and makes a create base for a fork-and-knife kind of salad. We love this kind of salad with a creamy dressing, but a squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil is lighter and equally delicious.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 heads romaine lettuce
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 large avocado, cubed
  • 1/4 cup toasted pepitas, pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • juice of 1 lemon

Lemon-Garlic Vinaigrette:

  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 3 Tbs. California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 tsp. sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method

  1. Heat a grill or grill pan to medium-hot heat.
  2. Prepare the vinaigrette by adding all ingredients to a food processor or blender and pulsing until combined. Set aside.
  3. Slice your romaine heads lengthwise from base up, keeping the core in tact for both halves.
  4. Coat all sides with extra virgin olive oil, salt & pepper to taste.
  5. Place each romaine half on the grill, cut-side down, avoiding direct flames. You want nice char marks but not scorched leaves! Grill until the grill-side begins to crisp but the insides are still tender.
  6. Plate each romaine half and divide avocado, pepitas, parmesan, dressing, and lemon juice evenly. Serve right away!

Shaved Root Vegetable Salad with Hazelnuts

This salad is most practical to make if you have a mandoline – otherwise it’s a lot of tedious slicing! A mandoline is, however, an excellent tool that has a place in any vegetable-lover’s kitchen. It can shave many vegetables into beautiful salad ingredients and makes the denser root vegetables easier to eat uncooked, or cook much faster in recipes like gratins. This salad is simple and beautiful, and without lettuce, the leftovers will last a few days.

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt & pepper
  • 3-4 rainbow carrots
  • 1 medium watermelon radish, or a few smaller ones
  • 3-4 stalks of celery
  • 2 beets of choice, golden or red
  • 1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped

Method

  1. In a dry pan, toast the cumin seeds until they turn fragrant and slightly darker. Set aside.
  2. Prepare the dressing by whisking together the extra virgin olive oil with lemon juice and adding salt & pepper to taste.
  3. Wash all the vegetables. Peel the beets and the carrots.
  4. Slice all the vegetables very thinly with a mandoline, keeping the red beets separate.
  5. In a medium bowl, toss the red beets with enough of the dressing to coat. Arrange the red beets on a platter, and add the remaining vegetables to the bowl, tossing with the remaining dressing and the toasted cumin seeds. Top the beets with the remaining vegetables and garnish with toasted hazelnuts.

Farro Salad with Radishes and Mint

This grain salad is wonderful for the end of Spring. Full of veggies, whole grains, and fresh herbs, it’s great as a side dish or potluck contribution. And even better, all the components can be prepared ahead of time and assembled just before serving.

Serves 6-8 as a side

Ingredients

  • 2 cups farro
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 bunch thin asparagus
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch radishes, greens removed and thinly sliced (with a mandoline if available)
  • 1/2 cup goat cheese
  • salt & pepper

Method

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the farro and cook until just tender, about 25 minutes.
  2. Drain the farro into a colander and spread out on a large plate or baking sheet. Zest the lemon over the farro, toss, together, and let cool.
  3. Trim the thick ends off of the asparagus, and chop into 1-inch pieces. Heat about 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a medium pan, and add the asparagus, sautéing until bright green and tender through, 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add the cooled farro to a large bowl, and add the asparagus and all remaining ingredients. Toss with additional extra virgin olive oil and salt & pepper to taste.

We hope you enjoy these recipes! Let us know if you try any by sharing your salads on Instagram and tagging us @caoliveranch and #MyCORKitchen.