Spring Bitters Salad with Cider Vinegar Dressing

Posted by Lindsay Kluge on Wednesday, April 3, 2019

When I first see dandelion flowers popping up, I smile so hard I nearly cry. Along with robin sightings and little spots of green peeping out on the sleeping branches and brush, these sweet little medicinal flowers are the harkening in of a gleefully anticipated new season. Spring.

The entirety of 2018 was the hardest year of my life. Going through a dormant, restorative and reflective past winter in the mountains of Virginia has been one of the most healing times I’ve accepted. And I’ve honestly never anticipated a spring season so much in my life. While I take Gromit on our walk through a 7 mile river trail every day, I’m watching this spring creep in slowly day by day, and the changes are subtle and comforting in the slowness of a gradually more colorful new landscape coming alive, and the renewed energy that’s sprouting in me, too. Real magic takes time. And it’s worth working for and waiting for. Luckily, seasons are patient right along with you, and continually generous in their offerings.

I make a variation of this salad almost every week in the early spring to gently transition my digestion (and psyche) into an energetically new season. I love incorporating bitters into my diet through spring greens and herbal tinctures. Just the tiniest pure bitter taste on your tongue sends a direct message to your stomach and pancreas to start producing digestive enzymes. These enzymes are essential to break down our macro molecules (like proteins, fats and carbs) into smaller, digestible pieces so that once food reaches our small and large intestines, they can be more easily absorbed and digested. Historically, this is reason we started having salads before meals – when salads were primarily made of deliciously fresh, bitter spring greens, and not flavorless iceberg lettuce.

Read More: 5 Ways I Use herbal Bitters Everyday

Thus, this is my favorite salad to serve for spring meal gatherings. Early spring bitters – such as dandelion greens, mustard greens and rapini– are slightly bitter and jam packed with good minerals and nutrients. Add them all to a salad with a touch of nuttiness, aromatic fennel bulb and a drizzle of slightly sweetened apple cider vinegar based dressing and you’ve got a perfect garden (or back yard) to table, seasonal meal. You can also add fresh herbs you’ve got on hand like parsley or fresh dill, too! Lately I’ve been really enjoying the subtle and sweet flavors of Bee Seasonal honey’s, and they taste amazing in this vinegar dressing. Bitter tastes can be a little abrupt if you’re not used to them, so adding a touch of sweetness helps to balance the flavors.

This salad recipe was first published for my collaboration with Suite One Studio two years ago, and I’ve updated the recipe a smidge since then. If you’re looking to have an effortlessly gloriously beautiful meal, I’d highly recommend Lindsay Emery’s serving bowls and pale pink plates. They brighten up any table, and are seriously some of the most beautiful things in my kitchen. Now, salad time!

Spring Bitters Salad with Cider Vinegar Dressing

  • 1 bunch Dandelion greens, coarsely chopped
  • Half as much mustard greens, coarsely chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, shaved / thinly sliced
  • 1/2 head of red leaf lettuce, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seed sprouts
  • 1 small bunch rapini
  • 1/2 cup small nuts or seeds (sunflower, sesame, pistachios, hemp or pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp favorite honey
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
Serves 4
For the salad: Wash all greens thoroughly, and lightly dry with a towel. Coarsely chop all of the greens and add them to a large serving bowl along with the sunflower seed sprouts (or whatever spring sprouts you've got!). In a small skillet, heat a small amount of olive oil and add the rapini. Sauté on medium heat for 3-4 minutes, until just tender. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Mix in with the fresh greens. Top with nuts and/or seeds, and the shaved fennel bulb. For the dressing: In a small glass jar, add the apple cider vinegar, olive oil, honey, herbs and dijon mustard. Shake well until blended together and slightly thick. Drizzle over the salad, and enjoy!