It’s unseasonably warm in Seattle right now, and everyone is giddy in the way that only rain-soaked, desperate-for-sun Seattleites get giddy when the first few really nice days of the year finally roll around. The rain will return until summer really starts in July, but for now, everyone’s got their classic convertibles and motorcycles on the road, they’re sunning themselves in the grass at parks, they’re swimming in the frigid Puget Sound (!), and they’re happily chatting one other up in grocery stores with a fervor not seen in a long, long time.
I’ve been putting my daughter in short sleeves (finally!) and attempting to apply sunscreen to her chubby little arms and the little space on the back of her neck, which is really, really difficult to do on a wriggly one-and-a-half-year-old. Training her to wear a sun hat when she wants nothing (ever!) on her head is a challenge, too.
We’re just not used to this bright yellow orb in the sky, but we welcome it. Oh, how we welcome it.
It was so warm yesterday that a nice, crisp, simple salad sounded like the perfect lunch. So I tossed together some spring veggies and topped them with a wonderful, creamy avocado ranch dressing that made me even giddier than I was already feeling.
A simple bed of spring baby greens holds sugar snap peas, sliced scallions, tender asparagus, tangy marinated artichoke hearts, and snappy radishes. A drizzle of garlicky avocado ranch and a sprinkle of sunflower seeds completes the scene.
Oh, salad weather. How we missed you so.
Spring Veggie Salad with Creamy Avocado Ranch
- 1 small bunch asparagus (washed and cut into 2-inch sections (about 1/2 cup chopped))
- 4 cups spring baby greens (well-dried)
- 3 - 4 small radishes (sliced)
- 1/2 cup sugar snap peas (cut into 1/2-inch pieces)
- 4 - 5 green onions (sliced)
- 1 5.5 ounce jar artichoke hearts (drained)
- Sunflower seeds
- 1 avocado (about 1 cup chopped)
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (I use 2% for this dressing, but whole-milk Greek yogurt or sour cream would work too)
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1 small garlic clove (finely minced)
- 1 tablespoon minced chopped scallions
- 1/4 cup minced fresh chives
- 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon fresh)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt + more to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Couple dashes of Tabasco sauce (optional)
- Make the dressing. In a food processor, whir the avocado and lemon juice until smooth. Add the Greek yogurt, milk, and garlic and puree until completely blended. Add additional milk if you prefer a smoother dressing. Move mixture from food processor to a small bowl. Stir in the scallions, chives, parsley, thyme, salt, black pepper, and Tabasco if using. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if you like. Set aside.
- Bring a medium saucepan half-full of water to a boil. Add asparagus pieces and cook for two minutes. Meanwhile, prepare a medium-size bowl with cold water and ice. Lift asparagus out of the water and immediately plunge into the cold water. This helps keep the asparagus from cooking any longer and keeps that nice, bright green color. Lay asparagus on paper towels to drain any excess water.
- Place spring greens into a medium salad bowl. Top with asparagus, radishes, sugar snap peas, green onions, and artichoke hearts. Drizzle with ranch dressing and sprinkle with sunflower seeds. Serve.