This spring salad—a mix of butter lettuce, radishes, avocado, goat cheese, and herbs—takes its creaminess and flavor from crème fraîche, honey, and Dijon mustard.
An easy and elegant salad that’s equally lovely on a random Tuesday night as it is at a tuxedo-required affair. Despite its benign appearance, it’s actually quite intensely flavored with mint and hints of licorice, and, well, almost all things spring. Use whatever soft, fresh herbs you happen to have on hand.–Renee Schettler
WHAT ABOUT MAKING INGREDIENT SUBSTITUTIONS?
Two of the major ingredients in this spritely spring salad, butter lettuce and crème fraîche, might be hard to find. You can easily make do with what you have. Butter lettuce is known for its tender, loosely coiled leaves and mild, sweet taste. Its closest relatives are Boston and Bibb lettuces but a spring mix of baby lettuces would also be delish. Crème fraîche can be successfully replaced with sour cream, Greek yogurt, or Mexican crema. If you’re not in a hurry, you can add 2 tablespoons of buttermilk to 1 cup of whipping cream—let stand for 8 to 24 hours at room temperature.
Spring Salad With Shallot Vinaigrette
For the vinaigrette
- 1 tablespoon shallot minced
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons crème fraîche or heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the salad
- 1/2 head butter lettuce washed and dried
- 3 radishes thinly sliced
- 1/2 avocado thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped assorted fresh herbs such as tarragon, dill, mint, chives, parsley, and cilantro
- 3 ounces soft goat cheese crumbled (optional)
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Make the creamy shallot vinaigrette
- In a small bowl, whisk together the shallot, honey, mustard, crème fraîche, and vinegar. Continue to whisk while pouring in the oil. Alternatively, combine all the ingredients in a jar and then shake until combined. Add the salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings to your desire. You should have about 1/2 cup, which is enough to dress 4 salads.
☞TESTER TIP: The vinaigrette also makes a swell marinade or sauce for grilled chicken or shrimp. Leftover dressing can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Make the spring salad
- In a medium bowl, toss the lettuce with about 1/4 cup vinaigrette. Arrange the leaves on two plates and then top with the radishes, avocado, and herbs. Finish with crumbled goat cheese, if desired. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
This spring salad was a breeze to put together taking a total time of about 30 minutes. The creamy shallot vinaigrette yield was about 1/2 cup and the serving size was spot on. I used fresh herbs including mint, dill, and cilantro. The sharp vinaigrette and tangy radishes complement the mild butter lettuce and avocado. This is a nice summer salad—quick to put together and a nice melding of summer's bounty.
When you're on an eating plan as strict as mine, homemade is always better. I love vinaigrettes but I get bored of the same old, same old. This recipe piqued my curiosity. I didn't use honey (used a small pinch of sugar to cut the edge), substituted whole yogurt for the creme fraiche because I had it on hand, and I doubled the recipe so I'll have some for lunch tomorrow.
This was a really lovely take on a classic. It added just enough je-ne-sais-quoi to put a typical lunch salad over the top. I served it over greens from my garden, avocado, and sliced radish. Delicious, quick, simple and perfect for this time of year.
I loved the spring salad with shallot vinaigrette and since then, I've been using that recipe as a base for most of my vinaigrettes. I do many variations, but Greek and fall versions are my most popular and personal favorites.
For the Greek version, in the dressing, I swap garlic for the onion, use Greek yogurt in place of the heavy cream, lemon juice in place of the vinegar, and add 1/4 teaspoon dried Greek oregano. For the salad, I used romaine lettuce, halved grape tomatoes, feta cheese, Kalamata olives, cucumber, red onion, and toasted pine nuts.
For the fall version, in the dressing, I use maple syrup in place of the honey, apple cider in place of the cream, apple cider vinegar, and avocado oil. For the salad, I use mixed greens, sliced green apple or pear, goat cheese or gorgonzola, red onion, toasted walnut or sweet and spicy toasted pecans.
Originally published April 17, 2018.