After a harsh, cold winter, there’s something magical about the spring season arriving at last. And what better way to enjoy the chirping birds and blooming flowers than an outdoor picnic of delicious, healthful salads? You’ll find nary an iceberg lettuce leaf among these five creative recipes, which make use of such diverse ingredients as calamari, berries, lentils, crab, and mango.
If you’re looking for a good, inexpensive source of heart-healthy omega-3 fats, calamari (aka squid) is an excellent choice, with about 600 milligrams of omega-3s in 4 ounces (about half the amount in salmon). Squid is also a good choice environmentally—generally abundant and caught in ways that don’t harm the ecosystem. Lemon juice and zest give this salad a clean, citrusy flavor, while celery and yellow bell pepper lend crunch.
With its abundant fiber and dose of healthful fat (thanks to the avocado), this salad is likely to keep you feeling full long after the meal ends. With no cheese or other animal proteins, it’s also a good option for vegans. Aside from fiber, protein, and phytochemicals, lentils offer another advantage: Along with other legumes (pulses), they’re one of the most eco-friendly foods out there.
True to its name, this salad is chock full of berries (specifically strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries), which are known for containing a wide variety of phytochemicals—notably anthocyanins, which give berries their intense color and may act as antioxidants in the body. Orange juice and red wine vinegar make the recipe salad-y enough to serve as an opener or as part of the main meal, while a dash of brown sugar adds enough sweetness to make it a fitting dessert.
This twist on a classic dish known as Crab Louis uses nonfat yogurt and light mayonnaise, so it contains all the creaminess of the original dish but fewer calories. In our version, grapefruit and fresh lemon juice wake up your mouth with flavor, while cayenne pepper finishes with a fiery kick. The richness of the crabmeat makes this a good main-course salad.
A tip when working with cucumbers: Even if you plan to peel them, as in this crunchy salad, you should still wash them well before slicing—that way the knife won't carry any surface bacteria into the sliced vegetable. (No need for soap or special produce cleansers.) Note that this salad needs to chill for an hour before serving.