Spring Barley Salad with Lemony Dressing

Spring is officially here! I know a lot of you are wondering about that, simply based on the weather, but it’s definitely springtime in Phoenix. Here in the desert you can definitely tell it’s spring: from the warmer weather to the blooming plants to Spring Training baseball games, it’s here!

I get eager to dive into spring veggies when the weather warms up, but since it’s just the beginning of the season, I still have a little time to wait – but not much. What’s a gal to do? I’ve found spring barley salad with lemony dressing is great way to tide me over, with its pretty colors and fresh flavor. The barley in the salad helps keep me grounded, knowing that we’re not quite there yet.

Spring barley salad with lemony dressing is easy to make, and it has a nice nutty flavor that pairs well with the lemony dressing. If you need a little fix of spring, mix up a batch of this salad, sit back, and enjoy the season, no matter what the weather!

To make this recipe vegan, choose an appropriate wine to use, and omit the optional Parmesan cheese.

Recipe for Spring Barley Salad with Lemony Dressing
Serves 8

Lentil Salad with Roasted Red Pepper Dressing

Lately all I’ve been craving is “cookies and cake and junk & stuff” (a favorite line from Will Smith in Men in Black). But cookies only last so long on the counter, and even longer on parts of my body, so it was time to break out the good stuff: lentils and salads, more specifically, lentil salad with roasted red pepper dressing.

The family that eats lentils together

Growing up, my family ate lentils pretty often, mostly in the winter, and always in the form of soups (try my recipe for lentil soup with veggies and pasta). When I told my mom I was making lentil salad with roasted red pepper dressing, she was intrigued. She wasn’t sure how I was going to incorporate lentils into a salad. I explained my recipe to her, and she was clearly interested since I got a call from her later in the day anxious to know how it turned out.

Lentil lesson

Brown lentils are easy to cook and I usually always have them in the house. I was surprised when I opened the door to my crammed cupboard (and nothing fell out) to find only red lentils tucked waaaay back in the corner of the shelf. Even though I’d never cooked red lentils before, I was confident they’d be great in this recipe. From what I read after the fact, red lentils tend to get mushy when you cook them (they do). You’ve been advised.

When I got my hands on some brown lentils, I got nervous about cooking them and started to second-guess myself. Maybe lentils are hard to cook? When was the last time I made them? What should I do now! For reassurance, I consulted The Kitchn for a fool-proof method to cook brown lentils. I’m glad I did, because their tutorial not only gave me my lentil-cooking confidence back, but I learned about holding off on adding salt to the lentils until after they’re cooked. Glad I double-checked! My lentil salad with roasted red pepper dressing turned out great! Nice firm lentils for a great cold salad. The cookies and cake and junk & stuff have been put off…for now.

Note: Although this recipe is labeled as gluten free, if you follow a gluten-free diet, you should always carefully read the ingredient labels of all food and food products you use to ensure they are also gluten free.

Recipe for Lentil Salad with Roasted Red Pepper Dressing
Serves 4-6

Fresh Green Bean and Tomato Salad with Creamy Garlic Dressing

To me, Fresh Green Bean and Tomato Salad with Creamy Garlic Dressing tastes like summer on a plate. The snappy green beans and sweet, colorful tomatoes make this a healthy and tasty salad, and the tangy, garlicky dressing is its crowning glory!

Savor the season

It’s nice to enjoy a fresh salad that doesn’t always come in the form of a bowl of lettuce. The season’s best veggies are only here for a short time, so take advantage of them with this simple, satisfying recipe.

It’s a snap

My parents always had green beans growing in their garden during the summer, and I remember spending a lot of time sitting outside in a folding chair, trimming and snapping green beans by the bushelful. I loved the rhythmic process of prepping them when I was little, and I still do. There aren’t quite as many beans to prep for this recipe, but I still thought it was fun!

Top it off

If you’d like to amp up this salad a bit, add some chunks of mozzarella or feta cheese and herbs. Toss in some tofu or grilled shrimp. You’ll still keep the fresh flavors of the veggies even with adding more ingredients.

The dressing is really easy to make. I used spicy brown mustard but you might want to give Dijon mustard a try. A little of this dressing goes a long way, and it’s perfect for garlic lovers!

Recipe for Fresh Green Bean and Tomato Salad with Creamy Garlic Dressing:
Serves 4