Despite the recent spate of cold weather, fresh mint and chives have started to spring up in my garden and they are already thriving. This early bounty of fresh spring herbs is the perfect inspiration for this week’s Sugar Snap Spring Salad with Minty Chive Vinaigrette.

Homemade salad dressings are quick and easy to prepare and taste so much better than prepared dressings. My master vinaigrette recipe is a basic combination of extra-virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper, and for this recipe I have also added fresh mint and chives.

Fresh mint and chives can be grown in the early spring and bring a splash of refreshing flavor to the salad's vinaigrette. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
Fresh mint and chives can be grown in the early spring and bring a splash of refreshing flavor to the salad's vinaigrette. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

I keep a jar of the master vinaigrette in my fridge and use it either on its own or mix a portion of it with other ingredients to create myriad flavor combinations, including fresh herbs, garlic, citrus juice and zest, shallots and honey. The dressing is best when prepared at least 30 minutes before using and can be refrigerated for up to one week.

You can use a small bowl and a whisk to mix the dressing, or you can put all the ingredients into a Mason jar and shake vigorously to combine. The dressing has a marvelous punch of tangy flavor which holds up well to the bright tones of the fresh mint and chives.

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This salad is composed in layers rather than being tossed together, and the first layer is a bed of fresh baby greens. I used baby romaine on this occasion, but arugula or mixed greens would also work well.

Fresh baby greens are tossed in a light coating of Minty Chive Vinaigrette before assembling the salad. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
Fresh baby greens are tossed in a light coating of Minty Chive Vinaigrette before assembling the salad. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

The next layer is a mixture of carrots, radishes, cucumbers and navy beans — and to ensure that the Minty Chive Vinaigrette is present throughout the salad, I toss these first two layers, separately, in a light coating of dressing before placing on a serving platter.

Paper-thin slices of carrots and radishes are tossed in the vinaigrette with slightly thicker cucumber slices before being added to the salad. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
Paper-thin slices of carrots and radishes are tossed in the vinaigrette with slightly thicker cucumber slices before being added to the salad. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

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I use a food mandoline to slice the carrot and radishes paper-thin to enhance their sweetness, and the cucumber just slightly thicker so that it does not lose its crunch. I am not big into kitchen gadgets, but I love the ease, efficiency and uniformity of my mandoline, which you can find at home stores for under $10.

A food mandoline is the perfect kitchen tool for slicing the vegetables into uniformly thin pieces. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
A food mandoline is the perfect kitchen tool for slicing the vegetables into uniformly thin pieces. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

A generous helping of fresh sugar snap peas brings fresh spring flavor, lovely color and a lively crunch to this seasonal salad, and a final drizzle of dressing completes the dish.

For an elegant presentation, I slice the peas in half, lengthwise, on the sides opposite the seams so that the shells remain intact to display the peas. All of the vegetables can be prepared up to two days in advance of assembling the salad.

This salad is a wonderful blend of contrasts in both flavor and texture. From the tang of the vinaigrette to the delicate fragrance of the fresh herbs, the bright crunch of the sugar snaps and the buttery tenderness of the navy beans, this easy to make Sugar Snap Spring Salad is a showcase of springtime simplicity, elegance and flavor.

The salad is finished with a generous sprinkling of fresh sugar snap peas and navy beans for a punch of flavor and protein. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
The salad is finished with a generous sprinkling of fresh sugar snap peas and navy beans for a punch of flavor and protein. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

Sugar Snap Spring Salad

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Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:

3 cups fresh baby greens (Romaine, arugula or mixed greens)

1 large carrot, peeled and sliced into thin rounds

2 large radishes, thinly sliced

1 mini cucumber, sliced just a bit thicker than carrot and radishes

½ cup navy beans, drained and rinsed

2 cups sugar snap peas, ends trimmed and sliced in half on the side opposite the seams

Minty Chive Vinaigrette

Directions:

In a medium bowl, toss fresh greens with 1 to 2 teaspoons of vinaigrette, until lightly coated. Place dressed greens on a serving platter in an even layer.

In the same bowl, repeat this step with carrots, radishes and cucumbers, tossing until combined. Add navy beans and toss again. Distribute mixture evenly over fresh greens.

Scatter sugar snap peas around top and sides of the platter and drizzle salad with 1 to 2 tablespoons of vinaigrette. Serve immediately.

Sarah’s Tips:

  • Use a food mandoline (or very sharp knife) to slice carrot and radishes into paper-thin slices and adjust the setting to slice the cucumber just a bit thicker.
  • The vegetables can be prepared in advance and refrigerated for up to 2 days before assembling the salad.
  • My master vinaigrette recipe is this recipe, without the fresh herbs. I keep a large jar of this basic dressing on hand and either use it on its own or with any combination of flavor-building ingredients like fresh herbs, citrus juice and zest, garlic, shallots and honey.

Minty Chive Vinaigrette

PRINT: Click here for a printer-friendly version of these recipes

Ingredients:

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

¼ cup white wine or Champagne vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon fresh mint, finely chopped

1 tablespoon fresh chives, finely chopped

Directions:

Place vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl or Mason jar and whisk or shake vigorously until fully combined and emulsified.

Vinaigrette should be prepared at least 30 minutes before assembling the salad and may be refrigerated for up to 1 week. Whisk or shake vigorously before serving.

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“Home with the Lost Italian” is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello’s in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at sarahnasello@gmail.com.