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Food52's Elegant and Unexpected Spring Salads

Whether you’re looking for ways to breathe new life into your healthy New Year’s resolution or ready to take the plunge beyond those old standbys Cobb and Niçoise, there’s at least one salad in this bunch for you. Not yet sold on salad? We’ve got you covered, too. After all, nothing says “baby steps” like blue cheese dressing.

Sturdy enough for potlucks, yet classy enough for the fanciest of dinner parties, we'll be pulling out these six stunners all season long.

Recipe: Crunchy Celery, Radishes and Turnips Salad-Slaw in Blue Cheese Sauce

This salad combines a tangy, creamy blue cheese dressing with a who's who list of crispy, raw vegetables: radishes, young turnips, celery, and scallions.

Crunchy Celery, Radishes and Turnips Salad-Slaw in Blue Cheese Sauce

Photo by James Ransom

Recipe: Dandelion Greens Salad

Alone, a pile of dandelion greens can be brutally bitter, but this recipe employs the perfect tactics for taming them into submission: bacon (obviously), maple and leek-sweetened vinaigrette, and a luscious poached egg. The rich yolk that clings to the leaves softens any lingering rough edges and wins over the skeptics. We’re going to have a hard time eating dandelion greens any other way.

Dandelion Greens Salad

Photo by Sarah Shatz

Recipe:  Caroline Wright's Lemon + Olive Oil Marinated Fennel with Burrata + Mint

Fennel, with its crisp texture and bright, clean flavor, provides the perfect foundation for the shift in taste between every winter and spring; while it could be braised in cream and served on a snowy afternoon, it can also be coaxed into submission with a brief marinade of lemon and olive oil. Supple burrata is perfect to spread on toast with a brisk bite of fennel.

Caroline Wright's Lemon + Olive Oil Marinated Fennel with Burrata + Mint

Photo by Caroline Wright

Recipe: April Bloomfield's Lemon Caper Dressing

At first glance, this is a shockingly brash dressing. April Bloomfield uses not just lemon juice, but whole lemon segments, and more mustard than could possibly seem like a good idea. But she adds just enough addictive nips of caper and shallot to keep you going, along with just a teensy bit of sugar. Drizzle over butter lettuce and a wedge of ripe avocado and watch your dinner guests be amazed.

April Bloomfield's Lemon Caper Dressing

Photo by James Ransom

Recipe: Asparagus with Young Garlic and Horseradish

You needn’t always cook garlic to ease its punchy aroma – you can also mellow it by rubbing it with salt and letting it sit. This technique works for young garlic, too. Just pull away the tough outer layers, thinly slice the entire bulb, rub the slices with kosher salt, and let sit for a few minutes while you cook the asparagus. And then it's just a matter of slicing and sprinkling and grating your way to seasonal self-satisfaction.

Asparagus with Young Garlic and Horseradish

Photo by James Ransom

Recipe: Make Your Own Avocado Caesar

At first glance, this recipe has entirely the same character as your standard Caesar salad -- the sturdy crunch to the greens, the tangy bite of the dressing, everything that makes Caesars hail-worthy. But then there's the avocado, which makes the dressing as silky as all get out. The make-your-own approach adds to the novelty: diners get to adorn their salads according to taste, adding a bit of dressing, draping an anchovy over the top, and seizing the opportunity to snag an extra crouton (or two).

Photo by James Ransom

What are some of the ways you’re freshening up spring salads at lunch and dinner? Share your comments below!

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Carole says …

Blue Cheese in any form is nasty! Sorry but there has to be something better and tastier.

Diane says …

You are missing out.....blue cheese is one of my favorite cheeses!!! It is a complement to so many foods.

alicelynne says …

I love blue cheese!!

Warren Dennis says …

Love blue cheese...had tomatoes with a little blue cheese for lunch!

valorie marshall says …

none of these recipes were Raw Vegan friendly. I would love to see some recipes that are and I am also gluten and lactose free. I can modify several of these to make them work though. Thanks

Deborah says …

There are some bad cheap versions of Blue Cheese Carole however try a true Stilton Blue on a great Salad or Steak and you will be hooked!

Carolyn Mitchell says …

I love all types of salads and I'm going to try these.

Marjorie Wallens says …