Salad Celebrations

Just when winter seems to have lasted just too long, we find ourselves at the end of February and within sight of warmer weather, melting ice, and green things sprouting through the snow. It's time to celebrate and what better way to do that than to grace your table with a salad that will have even the pickiest of eaters digging in for seconds.

I first became familiar with a version of this salad at a family potluck when I nearly ate half the giant bowl. In my defense, it was absolutely delicious. I was also about five. Over the years, I've made different tweaks to help it cater to my own tastes and remove really involved steps that I didn't think really added a lot to the final dish. This version is what I toss together when I'm looking for a salad I can dig into any time of the year … so the very end of February, when I'm craving something fresh and crunchy, is a perfect time to dig it out. Any time of the year you can get good romaine and red onions and everything else is not something you're looking for in the produce aisle.

This salad pairs incredibly well with chicken, pork, or seafood. In fact, I've been known to toss some diced chicken, pork, or shrimp into the bowl and call it a main dish salad. Now how's that for making March look downright summery?

Ramen-Mandarin Salad

  • 1 (3-ounce) package ramen noodle soup mix, flavor pack removed
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 2 T. cider vinegar
  • 4 T. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. fresh, grated ginger root
  • 1 T. soy sauce
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, torn
  • 1/2 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 (11-ounce) can mandarin orange sections, drained
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds

Crumble the dry ramen noodles. Bake the noodles in a shallow pan at 350° F for 10 minutes or until they are toasted, stirring after 5 minutes. Remove them from oven and cool completely.

While the noodles are toasting, prepare the dressing by combining the lemon juice, honey, cider vinegar, olive oil, ginger root, and soy sauce in a small resealable jar. Seal the jar and shake vigorously to combine.

Toss together the lettuce and onion in a bowl. Drizzle with the dressing; toss again. Add the noodles, almonds, and oranges; toss again. Serve immediately.

  • Yields: 4-6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

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