3 Salad Recipes That Are Perfect for Spring

With the first day of spring on the horizon, our culinary focus is starting to shift away from warming recipes to crisp and vegetable-forward dishes that make the most of the upcoming season’s bounty. For inspiration on options we can add to our repertoire, we invited our editors across the country to ask culinary experts in their areas for their favorite spring salad recipes. Here, they share three options from Scouted chefs that are perfect for a light lunch or as an accompaniment to any meal. 

Arugula Salad with Honey Vinaigrette

“This spring salad is a beautiful celebration of Arkansas’s bountiful produce season. A tip to get the flavor of your salad to really pop is to get the freshest ingredients possible,” shares Kim Henderson of Heritage Catering in Little Rock, Arkansas, who suggests sourcing the honey, pecans, arugula, and strawberries at a local farmers market.

Yields 4 servings


For the honey vinaigrette:
½ cup honey
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
4 cloves roasted garlic
2 tablespoons champagne or apple cider vinegar
12 ounces blended oil (85% canola, 15% olive)

For the candied pecans:
1 egg white
1 tablespoon water
1 pound pecan halves
1 cup white sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the salad:
4 cups fresh baby arugula
1 ½ cups strawberries, sliced
4 ounces Manchego cheese, shaved
1 cup candied pecans (see above)


For the candied pecans:
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Grease one baking sheet. In a mixing bowl, whip together the egg white and water until frothy. In a separate bowl, mix together sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Add pecans to egg whites, and stir to coat the nuts evenly. Remove the nuts, and toss them in the sugar mixture until coated. Spread the nuts out on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for one hour. Stir halfway through baking. Cool and store in a plastic or glass container until ready to use. Note: These can be made a few days in advance.

For the vinaigrette:
Place all ingredients except oil into a blender. Blend on medium for 10-15 seconds until all ingredients are combined. With the blender running, slowly drizzle in the oil. Then, finish with salt and pepper. Store in a glass or plastic container in the refrigerator until ready to use. Note: This can be kept refrigerated for up to two weeks.

For the salad:
Toss arugula in honey vinaigrette and arrange on four plates. Place strawberries on top of arugula, then Manchego and pecans. Serve immediately.

Recipe courtesy of Kim Henderson of Heritage Catering. Heritage Catering is featured in The Scout Guide Little Rock. Valerie Shively is the editor of The Scout Guide Little Rock. 

Grilled Ricotta Salata with Mizuna Lettuce

“I really enjoy this salad because I feel it kicks off the spring season just right. The balance of flavors are wonderful,” says Hector Pabon, executive chef at The Pink Grouse located in the Quirk Hotel Charlottesville. “The Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette compliments the peppery flavor of the Mizuna lettuce and the grilled ricotta salata works very well the creamy garbanzos, sweet strawberries, and the light sliced cucumbers. You can enjoy this salad during a nice spring dinner or even on a wonderful sunny weekend outside.”

Yields 2 servings


For the salad:
2 ¼ cups Mizuna lettuce
10 quartered strawberries 
3/4 cup seasoned garbanzo beans
10 slices shaved cucumber
2 slices grilled ricotta salata cheese, cut into triangles
1 teaspoon honey balsamic vinaigrette
Salt and pepper to taste

For the honey balsamic:
4 ounces blended oil or olive oil
6 teaspoons balsamic or white balsamic vinegar
4 teaspoons wildflower or tupelo honey
1 sprig finely chopped oregano
Salt and pepper to taste


For the vinaigrette: 
Combine all ingredients except oil in a small mixing bowl. Very slowly whisk oil into other ingredients so it starts to emulsify. Set aside.

For the salad:
In a small mixing bowl, place lettuce, strawberries, garbanzo beans, and cucumber into a bowl and set aside. Take ricotta salata cheese and brush with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Place on grill to make grill marks. Grill for 20 seconds then flip to the next side for another 20 seconds. Set aside. Take mixing bowl with salad and dress with vinaigrette and toss lightly. Place salad onto two plates and place ricotta atop salad.

Recipe courtesy of Hector Pabon, executive chef at The Pink Grouse in Quirk Hotel Charlottesville. Quirk Hotel Charlottesville appears in The Scout Guide Charlottesville. Christy Ford and Susie Matheson are the co-editors of The Scout Guide Charlottesville. 

Thai Spring Salad

“Spring comes slowly to the Midwest, and this salad allows us to utilize a handful of ingredients that are available locally this time of year,” says Shelley Elson-Roza, executive chef at Heirloom Fine Foods in Omaha, Nebraska. “We make this salad regularly this time of year because it’s light, healthy, and helps us come out of our winter freeze. The salad dressing has the perfect tang from the ginger. If you don’t like fish sauce, you can easily omit that ingredient. The salad is great on its own or goes well with steak or chicken, too.”

Yields 4 servings


For the salad dressing:
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
5 tablespoons rice vinegar
5 teaspoons fish sauce
5 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup canola oil, olive oil, grapeseed oil, or coconut oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
Fresh lime juice, to taste

For the salad:
1 head Little Gem lettuce (or Bibb or Butter lettuce)
2 large carrots, cut into rounds
1 cucumber, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
6 radishes, sliced
4 spring onions, cut on the diagonal
1 cup cilantro
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
Optional: Protein of your choice (suggestions: 1 pound of chicken breasts or 1 pound of steak)


For the dressing: 
Whisk the garlic, ginger, rice vinegar, fish sauce, sugar, canola oil, sesame oil, and lime juice together.

For the salad: 
Arrange the lettuce in a large salad bowl. Toss all the remaining ingredients with the dressing just before you are ready to eat, then add to the lettuce. If desired, add protein of your choice. 

Recipe courtesy of Shelley Elson-Roza, executive chef at Heirloom Fine Foods. Heirloom Fine Foods appears in The Scout Guide Omaha. Tammi Bishop is the editor of The Scout Guide Omaha.