From arugula to romaine to watercress: the salad days of spring

Arugula, escarole, romaine, raddichio, red chicory, dandelion, fiddlehead, watercress - most greens today know no season, yet these fresh leafy vegtables still seem like harbingers of spring. For tossed salads it is advisable to toss the greens with tongs or one's hands for less breaking. Rinse and wrap salad greens in paper towels and refrigerate for an hour or so to absorb excess moisture. To freshen wilted salad greens, plunge them into hot water, then into ice water to which a little vinegar has been added.

Tossed salads can be as simple as cucumber, tomato, or other vegetables with your choice of greens. Add cheese, fish, meat, or poultry, and you have a main dish.

The first recipe is for a Peasant Salad - similar to the type found in Greece.

Peasant Salad 1 large head romaine lettuce, washed, drained, and chilled 2 medium tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch wedges 1 large cucumber, cleaned, sliced 1/8-inch thick 6 to 8 radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced 4 green onions, cut into 1/4-inch slices 6 ounces feta cheese, coarsely crumbled 1/4 pound Greek ripe olives 1/2 cup olive oil 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 3 tablespoons vinegar 1 clove garlic, crushed 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped oregano (or 1/8 teaspoon dried)

Tear lettuce into bite-sized pieces, discarding tough stem ends or discolored leaves. Add tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, onions, cheese, and olives.

Blend remaining ingredients in small bowl with whisk. Pour over salad. Toss until thoroughly mixed. Serves 6.

Spring Spinach Salad 1 quart fresh spinach, torn into small pieces 1/4 cup thinly sliced radishes 1/4 cup mild cheddar cheese, grated Herbed Vinegar Dressing

Toss spinach, radishes, and cheese until well mixed. Combine with dressing and toss thoroughly.

Herbed Vinegar Dressing 1/3 cup herbed vinegar 2/3 cup oil 2 teaspoons soy sauce 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

Mix vinegar, oil, soy sauce, and mustard. Mix well. Combine with salad ingredients and toss.

Wilted Dandelion Greens Salad 10 ounces dandelion greens 4 green onions with tops, sliced Pepper 6 strips bacon 2 tablespoons vinegar 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1 teaspoon sugar 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 hard-cooked egg, peeled and coarsely chopped

Wash greens, discarding stems. Pat dry and tear into large bite-size pieces to make about 6 cups. Place greens in a large bowl and add onions. Add freshly ground pepper. Cover and chill thoroughly. At serving time, cook bacon in a deep skillet until crisp. Slowly stir in vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, and salt. Add dandelion-onion mixture. Toss until leaves are coated and slightly wilted, but not cooked, 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped egg. Serve at once. Serves 4.

Marinated Fiddlehead Salad 1 pound fresh fiddlehead greens, cooked until tender 1/4 cup minced green pepper 1/4 cup minced onion 1/4 cup salad oil 1/4 cup cider vinegar 3 tablespoons sugar (or to taste) 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Gently toss fiddleheads, onion, and pepper. Combine remaining ingredients for marinade in large bowl. Add fiddleheads, pepper, and onion. Marinate 24 hours.

Asparagus Salad With Sour Cream Dressing Cooked fresh asparagus, chilled Salad greens of your choice 1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt 1 small clove garlic, crushed 1 tablespoon chopped parsley Salt 1 hard-cooked egg yolk

Arrange chilled asparagus spears on salad greens. Combine sour cream, garlic, parsley, and salt to taste. Spoon part of mixture over asparagus. Save remainder to pass at table. Press egg yolk through sieve. Sprinkle over yogurt and asparagus. Makes about 1/2 cup.

Strawberry-Avocado Salad 2 ripe avocados Juice of 1 lime Salad greens 1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced 1/2 cup whipping cream 1/4 cup white vinegar 2 tablespoons sugar

Cut avocados in half and remove pits. Douse with lime juice. Set on salad greens and fill hollows with sliced strawberries. Chill. For dressing, mix cream with vinegar and sugar, stirring to dissolve sugar. Chill. Spoon over salads. Serves 4.

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