Early Spring Veggie Salad

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Early Spring Salad It's almost Spring! I pull out the flip-flops even if I have to wear them with a long sleeve shirt and jeans and I start craving fresh, raw foods. This Early Spring Veggie Salad was the salad I served alongside the Chicken Pot Pies in my Comfort Food post, but with a little grilled fish or chicken, it would certainly be a wonderful main dish. The best of Spring veggies are not yet available, asparagus and freshly shelled peas, but you can still use what is in season right now--carrots, celery and parsley-- and turn it into a great salad that is way out of the ordinary. It is wonderful served alongside comfort foods, like stews or like I did with the Chicken Pot Pie, since the bright dressing and crunchy veggies will break up the heaviness.

Look for rainbow carrots since they usually are two-toned, yellow and purple or orange and red. They really make this salad colorful and attractive in the still-brown days of early spring. Also, if you can find Meyer lemons, this vinaigrette is the time to use them. Meyer Lemons, described as cross between a tangerine and a lemon,  have a wonderful, almost sweet flavor that enhances this dressing. If not and it seems too tart to you, add a little more honey. To make this a light main dish salad, double the amount of veggies, add some feta cheese and sliced almonds then top with grilled fish or chicken.

Early Spring Veggie Salad with Whole Lemon Vinaigrette
Author: Christi Flaherty
Ingredients
  • Vinaigrette
  • 1 whole organic lemon, washed, quartered, seeds removed
  • 1 clementine or 1/2 a small orange, washed, quartered, seeds removed
  • 1 small shallot
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp dried tarragon, optional
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • Salad
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 3 carrots, preferably red or purple if you can find them
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 1 crisp, tart apple
Instructions
Vinaigrette
  1. Chop the lemon and orange into small pieces (if you have a high powered blender, you can skip this) and add to the container of a blender or food processor along with the shallot and garlic. Pulse to break down the fruits then blend well until smooth. Add the honey and tarragon if using and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper.Blend again then slowly add the oil through the top of the blender or food processor.
Salad
  1. Very thinly slice the celery on the diagonal (use the leaves, too if they are attached). Halve the carrots lengthwise then slice them on the diagonal then slice each diagonal piece into matchsticks. Cut the leafy top off the bunch of parsley and very coarsely chop. (Better yet, have your kids tear the leaves off to use whole instead of chopping.) Slice the apple thinly and then into matchsticks.
  2. Toss all the salad ingredients together in a large bowl with half of the dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add more dressing if it seems dry.
Notes
If you can find a Meyer lemon, this dressing really rocks!