This glorious weather not only has us enjoying the great outdoors, but we’re also thinking about swimsuit season. It’s time to start shaping up, ladies! But rather than running on the treadmill and starving yourself, embrace this beautiful preswimsuit season with a sense of joie de vivre. Walk among the flowers and make healthy and delicious dishes!

To give you some ideas, we talked to three local chefs who know how to make healthy, farm-fresh flavors shine. Here are their most creative — and tasty — salad recipes!

3 Delicious & Creative Salad Recipes

Shaved Asparagus & Foraged Watercress Salad

George McMillan, executive chef of FoodBar in Cahaba Heights, comes from a family of farmers, chefs, bakers and epicures, so he knows a thing or two about taking farm produce to the next level. Here, Chef George, using his culinary chops, brightens asparagus, watermelon radish, foraged watercress and fennel with Ruby Red grapefruit and citrus vinaigrette. This salad is enjoyed best on the patio of FoodBar with a gentle breeze in your hair and a glass of wine in your hand, but if you want to make it at home, here’s how:

FoodBar salad

The pink-centered watermelon radish and Ruby Red grapefruit slices add a visually stunning element to this fresh salad from George McMillan, FoodBar‘s executive chef!

Shaved Asparagus & Foraged Watercress Salad

Chef George McMillan, FoodBar
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 2 lemons
  • 2 limes
  • 2 oranges
  • Juice of 1 grapefruit
  • 2 Tablespoons shallots minced
  • ½ teaspoon parsley finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon thyme finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon basil finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon Champagne vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 ounces watercress
  • 1 large bunch asparagus shaved with peeler
  • Watermelon radish thinly sliced
  • 2 grapefruits sectioned (reserve pulp juice)
  • 1 fennel bulb thinly sliced

Instructions
 

  • For the vinaigrette, remove and reserve the zest of 1 lemon, 1 lime and 1 orange.
  • Juice all citrus and combine the juice with 1 Tablespoon shallot..
  • Reduce in a nonreactive, stainless steel saucepot until you have about 2 Tablespoons remaining.
  • Transfer to a mixing bowl and add the remaining 1 Tablespoon shallot, herbs, Champagne vinegar and salt.
  • Whisk in the extra virgin olive oil.
  • For the salad, place the watercress, asparagus, watermelon radish, grapefruit and fennel in a large salad bowl.
  • Ring the bowl with half of the vinaigrette and lightly toss to combine.
  • Divide into 4 portions and serve.
Tried this recipe?Rate it above to let us know how it was!

Moroccan Chickpea Salad with Arugula and Orange Vinaigrette

Ashley Tarver attended cooking school in Buenos Aires and worked in three Michelin-starred restaurants in Spain before returning home to work for some of our city’s top chefs. She is now the owner of Birmingham-based Copper Pot Kitchen Infused Olive Oils, a growing national brand. Here, Ashley shows us how to make a Moroccan-inspired salad using sumac, the dried berry from the sumac bush that’s native to North Africa. When ground, it provides a citrus-like flavor that gives a nice, bright pop to many dishes.

Ashley Tarver salad

“If available, buy block feta as opposed to crumbled feta to assure quality. Block feta is more pure in flavor and freshness,” says Ashley. Image: Ashley Tarver

Moroccan Chickpea Salad with Arugula and Orange Vinaigrette

Ashley Tarver, Copper Pot Kitchen Infused Olive Oils
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Salad
Cuisine Moroccan
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients
  

  • Juice of 1 orange
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 ounces feta
  • 15 ounces chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon ground sumac
  • 1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes halved (multicolored if available)
  • 3 Tablespoons mint julienned, for garnish
  • 1 large bunch arugula

Instructions
 

  • Whisk the orange juice with 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil in a bowl. Set aside.
  • Place the feta in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  • Strain all liquid from the chickpeas.
  • In a saute pan over medium heat, add 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the chickpeas and ground sumac, along with the cracked black pepper and kosher salt. Then zest the orange over the chickpeas. Toast the chickpeas for approximately 5 minutes.
  • Remove the chickpeas from the heat. Place in a bowl.
  • Once the chickpeas have cooled, toss in the tomatoes and vinaigrette.
  • Cube the feta.
  • Add the feta and mint, folding gently into the chickpea and tomato mixture.
  • Toss mixture well with arugula and serve.
Tried this recipe?Rate it above to let us know how it was!

Beet & Fuji Apple Salad

Daniel Briggs, executive chef of Daniel George, brings us this unique salad that has the earthy flavor of roasted beets and carrots, paired with sweet, crisp bites of apple, nutty cashews and savory cheese, drizzled in a lovely carrot-apple vinaigrette. Talk about getting creative with farm-fresh ingredients!

Daniel George

Beet & Fuji Apple Salad from Chef Daniel Briggs at Daniel George

Beet & Fuji Apple Salad

Chef Daniel Briggs, Daniel George
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup carrot juice
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh ginger grated
  • 2 Tablespoons shallots diced
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup golden beets sliced
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • 2 cups baby carrots peeled
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme minced
  • 6 cups mixed greens
  • 1 cup julienned Fuji apple
  • 1 cup cashews halved
  • 1 1/2 cups Manchego cheese shaved

Instructions
 

  • For the vinaigrette, in a small, heavy saucepan, reduce the carrot juice and apple juice by half; cool.
  • Mix with the ginger, shallots, lemon juice, 1 cup olive oil and 2 teaspoons salt in a blender. Chill.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • For the salad, toss the golden beets with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, and spread evenly on a baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes.
  • Toss the baby carrots with olive oil and thyme, and spread evenly on a baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes.
  • Once the carrots and beets have cooled, combine with the mixed greens, Fuji apple and cashews in a bowl.
  • Drizzle in the vinaigrette and toss gently to coat.
  • Divide into 4 portions and serve, topping each serving with shaved Manchego cheese.
Tried this recipe?Rate it above to let us know how it was!

Our mouths are watering just looking at these sensational salads! Try them for yourself and enjoy! And find more great recipes in our recipes section.

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