With a flavor boost from tender chopped herbs mixed with spring mix, this herb salad has personality even just with a simple vinaigrette. Edible flowers optional.
Today’s herb salad is probably more of a formula than a strict recipe. But don’t worry, it’s still fun and easy.
It’s based an herb spring salad mix that I used to buy, that disappeared from our grocery shelves. I had always appreciated the extra character provided by the herbs so set out to try something similar.
In putting this recipe together, I specify a quantity, but I leave the specific herbs up to you. I used dill and cilantro since they’re tender and flavorful. Then I added some finely chopped oregano since it was already growing vigorously, and I knew it could handle the haircut!
Just make sure your herbs are tender (for example, you wouldn’t want a lot of rosemary—or its woody stems) and mildly flavored. Dill, cilantro and parsley are some fine choices.
My other innovation was to add an edible flower. This adds to the unique flavors and makes a fine presentation–without a lot of work. With spring violets all over the lawn, they were a logical choice. But the flowers are optional, and there are many others available!
On Edible Flowers
I blame it all on lavender. It was the flavor that finally convinced me that flowers might actually enrich the flavorverse! Today I grow it in my herb garden, alongside the oregano.
Of course, once I was eating lavender, violets were next, popping up every spring in our unsprayed lawn.
Now, if you’re going to eat flowers, you’ll have a few options to check for sourcing: forage for them, grow them or buy them. Farmer’s markets and specialty stores like Whole Foods are likely sources for edible flowers. And if you’d like to grow them, here are some options from Garden Therapy.
For wild harvesting you’ll need to be sure of a few things. First that you have permission to harvest. Second that your plant hasn’t been sprayed with pesticides or anything else you don’t want to consume. And finally you’ll need to be really sure that you can identify it correctly and tell it apart from any doppelgangers. For example, African violets look similar to European violets, but they are poisonous. I usually suggest that people check a minimum of two information sources before they set out. A favorite of mine is Hunter Angler Gardener Cook or the University of Minnesota.
And check out my wild violet lemonade or my hibiscus lemonade for more fun!
What You’ll Need
- Olive oil, Balsamic vinegar. These form the body of the dressing.
- Ground ginger. This adds flavor to the dressing.
- Honey or maple syrup. This adds flavor to the dressing.
- Dried minced onion. This adds flavor to the dressing.
- Poppy seeds. This adds flavor to the dressing.
- Salt, pepper. This adds flavor to the dressing.
- Spring mix. This forms the bulk of the salad.
- Tender herbs. This adds flavor to the salad. You can select herbs based on preference and availability but dill, cilantro and parsley are favorites.
- Optional edible flowers. Like wild violet or other edible flowers. This adds flavor and color. Do NOT to use African violets which are not edible.
- No special tools required!
Step by Step Directions
Mix dressing ingredients except poppy seeds in a small food processor, blender or by hand until emulsified. Add poppy seeds, then taste and adjust salt and pepper.
Chop herbs as needed.
Combine herbs and lettuce then toss with dressing.
Sprinkle with flowers if desired.
How to Serve
This makes a nice first course salad. It’s pretty enough for company or a special Sunday supper but easy enough for a weeknight meal. And since it’s light, it won’t fill you up before the rest of the meal.
Variations and Special Diets
Violets are only around for a few weeks in the spring, though they’ll last for weeks in an airtight container in the refrigerator. For a similar look throughout the growing season, you can grow pansies.
Wild strawberry blossoms are also edible and up around the same time. But they’re quite fragile, so if you’re going to use then, you’ll want to pick them the same day. While my violets have lasted weeks refrigerated in a jar, the strawberry blossoms lost their petals in less than 24 hours.
This salad is already vegetarian, vegan if you use maple syrup rather than honey, gluten free and dairy free.
If you think that you may not finish the salad, serve the dressing on the side and let people add it to their own salads. Once dressed the salad will wilt and get soggy quickly. But undressed, properly sealed and refrigerated, it should last a couple days.
And I still have violets harvested a couple weeks ago that look great in my refrigerator!
Tips & FAQs
Pay attention to who you are serving when you select your herbs. My daughter married a “cilantro tastes like soap” man, so I no longer have free reign with this family favorite. Anise is another herb that some people will avoid due to its black licorice flavor.
When my kids were young, we had a pair of Guinea pigs. When the weather was nice, we’d take them out to the yard to forage and violets were a favorite snack!
Apparently the Guinea Pigs knew what they were doing. According to the Marion Institute “Violet leaves and flowers are high in vitamins A and C” and have been used in folk medicine for ages.
Welcome to Herb Week where we let the herbs be the star of the recipe and not just a garnish. Mint, dill, sage, and cilantro are just a few of the herbs we are celebrating this week.
Friday’s Herb Week Recipes
- Green Beans Poriyal from Palatable Pastime
- Gruyere and Thyme Shortbread from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
- Herb Oil Focaccia from Karen’s Kitchen Stories
- Herb Salad with Optional Edible Flowers from Art of Natural Living
- Methi Lachha Paratha from Magical Ingredients
- Mint Julep from Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
Herb Salad with Optional Edible Flowers
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 Tablespoon honey or maple syrup, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon dried minced onion
- Salt, pepper to taste
- 1 T poppy seeds
- 4-5 cups spring mix
- 2 cups tender herbs
- 1/4 cup violet or other edible flowers optional
- Mix dressing ingredients except poppy seeds in a small food processor, blender or by hand until emulsified. Add poppy seeds, then taste and adjust salt and pepper.
- Chop herbs as needed.
- Combine herbs and lettuce then toss with dressing.
- Sprinkle with flowers if desired.
Updated from my Ginger Violet Salad, May 19, 2011.
- Crispy Fried Sage
- Homemade Peanut Butter Cups