Creating the Perfect Salad

Each month many of our customers gather at McCaffrey’s for fun and informative free nutrition programs. Hot topics in nutrition are addressed, food trends are discussed, and healthy eating and meal planning are always a focus of conversation. And we always sample a new food or recipe. This past month, we sampled a wonderful spring salad loaded with fresh, seasonal vegetables. It inspired me to share the recipe along with the secret to success for the perfect vegetable salad.

  • Greens are an essential ingredient to most vegetable salads. Don’t just limit your salad to traditional iceberg, romaine, or bib lettuces. Enjoy other greens such as: kale, arugula, Swiss chard, watercress, or cabbage.
    • The pre-washed mixed greens at McCaffrey’s are a convenient option, offering both variety and literally no preparation! Keep in mind, any greens with the word “baby” in front of them have a milder flavor than their mature counterparts.
    • Greens with a firmer texture like cabbage and kale are more resilient and may “last longer” than some of the more delicate options.
  • Invite interest with some crunch. In addition to fresh crunchy greens, and any fruits and veggies that make their way to the plate, embrace additional crunch with croutons, toasted seeds, or nuts. Be creative and use what you have on hand. For example, roasted chickpeas will offer an unexpected surprise.
  • Add a touch of creaminess, whether from a sprinkle of cheese, a spoonful of diced avocado, or dollop of hummus. A smooth texture extends a delightful contrast to the crunch found in vegetable salad.
  • Welcome a bit of sweetness. Consider tossing in a bit of fruit, perhaps some chopped apple, a few mandarin oranges, or a sprinkling of raisins. Candied nuts offers both sweet and crunch. Get creative. Your palate will thank you.
  • Dressing will make or break a salad. Grab your favorite bottled dressing or make your own with ingredients that are most likely already in your pantry and fridge. Think oil, vinegar, lemon juice, herbs, and spices. For example, this quick Asian-inspired sesame maple vinaigrette will take an ordinary salad and make it exceptional. Or whip up this rich Green Goddess Dressing to wow your salad and tastebuds.

Options: While not essential, make a salad a meal with added proteins, steak, pork, fish, or different varieties of beans and lentils. Or toss in some grains like quinoa, rice, wheat berries or farro.

Give a big welcome to the change in seasons with this Spring Vegetable Salad. It’s got it all: creamy, crunchy, sweet, and green. Enjoy!


  • 2 cups of fresh asparagus, woody ends trimmed and sliced on the bias into ¼” pieces (about 1 pound)
  • 1½ cups sugar snap peas, sliced on the bias into 1/4-inch pieces (about 8 oz)
  • 1½ cups radishes, ends trimmed & thinly sliced into matchsticks (about 8 oz)
  • 2 green onions, ends trimmed & thinly sliced on the bias
  • 1/3 cup shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 8 ounces fresh baby spinach
  • Optional: salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional: sprinkle with shaved parmesan cheese

For Lemon Dijon Dressing:

  • 2 lemons, zested & juiced (~1/4 cup juice)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic 
  • 3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  • ½ teaspoon Honey 
  • Optional: salt & ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Cut asparagus, snap peas, radishes and green onions and chop pistachios.
  2. Assemble above ingredients in a large bowl and mix to combine.
  3. Prepare dressing: Combine dressing ingredients in a measuring cup. Add in salt and pepper to taste. Whisk together.
  4. Pour the lemon Dijon dressing over salad, tossing to combine well. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice or salt and pepper to taste.

4 servings: each serving provides: 210 calories, 15 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 105 mg sodium, 15 grams Carbohydrate, 6 grams fiber, 7 grams protein

Values listed represent a nutritional analysis. There are natural variations that occur in all recipes; these figures may not be exact and are provided for informational purposes only. Optional ingredients not included in calculations.

This salad is ideal for springtime celebrations. Start with the above recipe and make it your own. Swap veggies in or out and add some grilled chicken or salmon for quick meal.

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