A salad for spring.

Guys. It’s here. It’s happened. It’s spring!

[Spring is here! Celebration "Junk Salad" with fennel-lemon vinaigrette {gluten-free, vegetarian}.]

Well, sort of. You see, I woke up yesterday morning to this great mess:

[Spring is here! Celebration "Junk Salad" with fennel-lemon vinaigrette {gluten-free, vegetarian}.]

Yep, Cambridge, once again, all frosty and white, slushy and miserable. I was determined to make the best of it and, despite the snow not magically turning into daffodils at the stroke of midnight this morning, the most of it I certainly made.

It started with a ring of the doorbell today mid-morning. Could it be? It was. I ran to the door and found the package waiting for me at the step. It was what I had been waiting for — my books!

[Spring is here! Celebration "Junk Salad" with fennel-lemon vinaigrette {gluten-free, vegetarian}.]

I’ve been eying Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem for months now. It has everything I want to eat but don’t know how to cook. And it has beautiful, beautiful photos — so many plump eggsplants, well-drizzled tahini, such thick and lush yogurt sauces, apt and eager chickpeas, unbidden and unpronounceable spices. Had to have. And now: have. And then there’s Deborah Madison’s Vegetable Literacy. This delightful gem was just released into the wild yesterday. It reads as a primer for all things vegetable, or is, as the book jacket explains: “a celebration of the diversity of the plant kingdom, and an exploration of the fascinating relationships between vegetables, edible flowers, herbs, and familiar wild plants within the same botanic families.” It’s not just a cookbook, it’s a beautiful, beautiful vegetable textbook. I took a quick browse through the book’s many chapters and am ready to get started! Everything looks so simple and so exquisite. Braised Fennel Wedges with Saffron and Tomato. Wilted Red Cabbage with Mint and Goat Feta. Halloumi with Seared Red Peppers, Olives, and Capers. I swoon. Expect some show and tell soon.

With just a few short flips through these books’ pages, I was sold. All the leaf greens, the beety reds, the carrot golds — all the eggplanty, perse vivid purples — they won me oven. It was spring. Is spring. Snow or no snow. Like it or not.

[Spring is here! Celebration "Junk Salad" with fennel-lemon vinaigrette {gluten-free, vegetarian}.]

I decided to celebrate my first spring lunch with a celebration “Junk Salad” full of lots of bright and happy tastes and textures. It started with these remarkably weird rainbow carrots that I mentioned on Sunday I had purchased at the Cambridge Winter Farmer’s Market. When I cut into one a couple of days ago, they reminded me of of these tie-dyed Easter Eggs we made one year when we were kids. They’re a dark plum purple on the outside, with a touch of deep red hiding just inside that, and a classic orange nestled in the center. They’re beautiful. And, they’re delicious. I’ve never tasted a carrot that tasted so much like a carrot.

[Spring is here! Celebration "Junk Salad" with fennel-lemon vinaigrette {gluten-free, vegetarian}.]

There are many ways you could make this salad. Mine has a lot of components that I happened to pick up throughout the week. For starters, use whatever greens you have on hand or whichever you like best. I used a combination of green leaf and red leaf lettuces, as well as shaved Brussels sprouts and the greens from my radishes. (Yes, you can eat them! Eat them!)

[Spring is here! Celebration "Junk Salad" with fennel-lemon vinaigrette {gluten-free, vegetarian}.]

I added a boiled egg and some teeny-tiny steamed potatoes to add to the Easter Egg charade first begotten by those marvelous carrots. I shaved a small bulb of fennel, blanched a few green beans, and shelled a handful of pistachios, all for more green appeal.

[Spring is here! Celebration "Junk Salad" with fennel-lemon vinaigrette {gluten-free, vegetarian}.]

I hadn’t originally planned on the cheese, but what better way to celebrate a snow-decked First Of Spring but with a green salad freckled in small, salty drips of Gruyère? Exactly. It had to be done. I did it. Do it.

Below are my suggestions, but this salad is a salad of improvisation. And happiness.

[Spring is here! Celebration "Junk Salad" with fennel-lemon vinaigrette {gluten-free, vegetarian}.]


Celebration “Junk Salad” with fennel-lemon vinaigrette {gluten-free, vegetarian}.


For the vinaigrette:

  • One lemon, zested and juiced
  • Fronds from one fennel bulb, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard
  • 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt + cracked black pepper to taste

For the salad: (all amounts per your taste and preference)

  • Big bowl of greens (I used green leaf lettuce, red leaf lettuce, radish greens, and shaved Brussels sprouts)
  • Slices of carrot, radish, red onion, and fennel bulb
  • Chopped red onion
  • Blanched green beans
  • Steamed baby potatoes
  • Hard-boiled egg
  • Shelled pistachios
  • Grated Gruyère cheese


  1. Add all of the vinaigrette components to a jar. Twist on lid, and shake! Let sit for at least 20 minutes.
  2. Add all of the salad components to a big bowl. Pour the vinaigrette over and toss.

2 thoughts on “A salad for spring.

  1. Pingback: Braised fennel wedges with saffron and tomato. | Leaf Parade.

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