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This spring I’ve been expanding my salad repertoire by trying a few raw recipes with vegetables I’d normally cook. Shredding or thinly slicing and an acidic or garlicky dressing softens the textures and flavors of raw vegetables while maintaining their crunch.

Here are a few of my favorites, featuring brussel sprouts, kale, and asparagus. The dressings can be stored in the refrigerator but only wash and prepare the vegetables you’ll be eating right away – they don’t keep as well once cut (especially the brussel sprouts).

Shaved brussel sprout salad with hazelnuts and parmesan
Adapted from Love and Olive Oil

1 1b brussel sprouts
1-2 oz parmesan, grated (about 1/2 cup) or pecorino, romano, gruyere…
1/3 cup toasted and chopped hazelnuts or walnuts
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp honey
4 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

Wash brussel sprouts and chop the ends off. Shred by very finely slicing with a sharp knife or using the grating/slicing disc on a food processor. Toss with cheese and nuts in a large bowl.

Whisk vinegar, honey, olive oil and salt and pepper (go easy on the salt since the cheese will provide quite a bit) in a small bowl. Pour over salad, combine, and let rest for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Serves 4-6.

Kale salad with warm balsamic honey dressing
Adapted from Whole Living

1 bunch kale, large stems removed and leaves chopped
1 can (15 ounces) garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper

Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot and garlic and cook until slightly softened. Add vinegars and honey and bring to a gentle boil. Immediately pour hot dressing over kale. Toss with beans, cover, and let stand for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper before serving.

Serves 4.

The next two salads use a buttermilk dressing from 101 Cookbooks, a fantastic vegetarian recipe site for those of you who aren’t familiar.

Kale salad with carrots, pepitas, and buttermilk dressing

1 bunch kale, large stems removed and leaves chopped
1/3 cup toasted pepitas
3-4 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced OR cubed and roasted with some salt, pepper, and olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 -1 tsp salt
2/3 cup buttermilk
1-2 tbsp red or white wine vinegar
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp ground cumin or coriander
Black pepper

Combine garlic, buttermilk, salt, vinegar, olive oil and spices in a jar Shake well, then taste and adjust salt and vinegar. Toss with kale to taste (you may have some leftover dressing). Top with carrots and pepitas.

Serves 4.

Asparagus salad with radishes, pistachios, and buttermilk dressing

1 lb asparagus, trimmed
1/3 cup pistachios, toasted and chopped
1/2 to 1 cup chopped cilantro
4-5 radishes, sliced very thinly
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 -1 tsp salt
2/3 cup buttermilk
1-2 tbsp red or white wine vinegar
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Black pepper

Combine garlic, buttermilk, salt, vinegar, olive oil and pepper in a jar. Shake well and adjust salt and vinegar.

Slice asparagus thinly (1/8 – 1/4 inches thick) at an angle OR shave into strips using a potato peeler (I’ve never had success with this – maybe I don’t have the right peeler?). Toss with sliced radishes and cilantro. Add dressing to taste (you may have some leftover dressing). Top with pistachios and serve.

Serves 4.

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