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Food Matters

All about fresh, flavorful food

Hold the Lettuce: Nutritious Herb Salad Recipe

by Kirsten Hudson

Tags: Salad, Health Benefits, Recipes, Tips, News,


When cooking, I never use herbs as the heart of a dish. A sprinkling of basil or parsley can add that extra zing of flavor that pushes a meal from blah to delish, so I have never considered using herbs as more than ingredients. But they can be!

Because it's summertime, I crave cool, refreshing salads. For your next meal, rather than falling back on the standard lettuce-tomato-cucumber salad, skip the lettuce and use fresh herbs instead. Try this mouth-watering mushroom and fresh herb salad, from The New York Times, which is rich in vitamins, beneficial flavonoids and volatile elements. The recipe uses "sweet- and sharp-tasting herbs, such as tarragon, chervil, parsley, wild arugula and dill."

(Read The New York Time's "A Focus on Fresh Herbs")

Try combining fresh herbs with mixed greens like in our Herb Companion recipe for a fresh herb and flower salad.

Dandelion and Violet Salad
Photo by Vigilant20/Courtesy Flickr

Wild Spring Herb and Flower Salad

Serves 4

• 1/2 head romaine lettuce, washed, patted dry, and torn into bite-sized pieces
• 1/2 head red leaf lettuce, washed, patted dry, and torn into bite-sized pieces
• 1/4 cup sweet violet flowers (Viola spp., the common wild perennial)
• 1/3 cup unsprayed sweet violet leaves, stems removed
• 12 small young yarrow leaves
• 1/4 cup arugula flowers or 8 arugula leaves
• 1/4 cup organic dandelion leaves, picked before flowering
• 12 tips each of two mild herbs, such as dill and lemon balm
• 3 tablespoons cold-pressed olive oil
• 1 1/2 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar
• Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. In a large bowl, toss all the greens and herbs with the olive oil. Drizzle the rice wine vinegar over the greens and serve with salt and pepper on the side.

Not only do herb salads make for a refreshing change, but they also offer health benefits. The dark green color of fresh herbs indicates their high nutrition value. For example, parsley is a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K and iron, while basil packs a punch with vitamin A, vitamin K, iron and calcium.

Do you have a delicious (and nutritious) herb salad recipe? What herbs do you think would make the best salads? Leave me a comment and let me know!