Spring is the season of "plans and projects" according to Tolstoy. With that in mind, why not celebrate the return of warmer weather by planning some delicious seasonal salads? Get your creative juices flowing (and taste buds salivating) with these five suggestions.
Add some crunch to your lunch
The best salads have a variety of textures to them. Sugar snap peas, harvested in spring, are perfect as a crunchy base, and can be eaten cooked or raw according to taste. Why not play with the other textures in the dish by adding a soft-boiled egg and topping your salad with a sour cream dressing? Feta also works well in a snap pea salad: the slightly sweet flavour of the peas complements the salty cheese.
Brighten up your day with colour
When spring arrives, nature puts on a show of colour. Bring the feeling of bright blossoms and blooms into your kitchen with a colourful spring salad. The deep purple tones of beetroot can make any regular salad look lively or, if you'd prefer a more subtle taste, sprinkle some thinly sliced radishes over your dish.
A springtime favourite
Asparagus is one of spring's most popular vegetables and, while it does make a delicious starter when topped with olive oil, black pepper and sea salt, it can be equally memorable in a salad. Avoid soggy stalks by roasting in the oven for 15-20 minutes using minimal oil and seasoning well. Fresh cherry tomatoes and crumbly feta cheese make great companions.
Dress to impress
Spring is the perfect time to get creative with your salad dressings. Put on your gardening gloves and make a visit to your herb garden. Herbs can really make the difference between a bland dressing and one that's packed with flavour. Try mixing mint with lemon juice and olive oil for a tangy and refreshing combination. This dressing works particularly well with a steamed or stir-fried vegetable salad.
Leaves, leaves, leaves! Spring is the best season for fresh, leafy greens, so go ahead and rustle up a mixed leaf salad. Ideal for lunch, dinner, or as a side dish when hosting a party, you can combine all your favourite leaves into one bowl. Think crunchy lamb's lettuce, peppery rocket, vitamin-packed spinach and radicchio to add some colour. Finish by tossing in a light vinaigrette and sprinkling a few crushed cashews over the top.
Feeling inspired? What are your go-to ingredients for the perfect springtime salad?