3 Fun and Filling Spring Salads

No rabbit food here! These plates pack a healthy, hearty punch.

Medically Reviewed by Hansa D. Bhargava, MD on December 17, 2015
From the WebMD Archives

Happy almost-spring! It’s time to shake off winter and freshen up your plate with tasty, tender salad greens. If the cold months left you with extra pounds, low-calorie greens can help.

“We find that salads are great fillers that just really satisfy your appetite,” says Elisabetta Politi, MPH, RD, LDN, nutrition director at the Duke Diet and Fitness Center.

Consider that a cup of shredded romaine contains a mere 8 calories, but 82% of an adult’s daily value for vitamin A and 20% of the daily value for vitamin C. And because we often eat salad greens with other healthy ingredients (think tomatoes, beets, avocados), they’re an easy way to get more veggies. Politi recommends you super-charge your salads with dark greens such as spinach, arugula, and kale.

Turn over a new leaf this spring with these three recipes.

Meat Up

This hearty salad offers meat lovers a taste of steak without going overboard. Use a lean cut such as filet mignon, flank steak, or top loin.

Arugula Steak Salad With Peppercorn Dressing

Makes 6 servings



⅓ cup low-fat buttermilk

1 tbsp mayonnaise

½ tsp sherry vinegar

½ tsp finely minced garlic

½ tsp cracked black pepper, or more to taste

¼ tsp kosher salt


4 cups baby arugula

2 cups watercress

½ red onion, thinly sliced

18 cherry tomatoes

1 medium red pepper, thinly sliced

1 medium yellow pepper, thinly sliced

1½ lbs lean steak, with fat trimmed

¼ cup crumbled blue cheese


1. Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk until blended.

2. In a large bowl, combine lettuces, onion, cherry tomatoes, and peppers. Toss with a small amount of dressing. Divide evenly onto 6 plates.

3. Grill steak over medium-high heat until medium rare, about 5 minutes per side, depending on thickness. Slice crosswise into thin slices.

4. Arrange steak atop salad on each plate. Garnish with blue cheese. Serve immediately.

Per serving

343 calories, 25 g protein, 7 g carbohydrate, 23 g fat (10 g saturated fat), 80 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 276 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 61%

Wrap Star

Is it a salad? Or a sandwich? These wraps manage to be a hybrid of the two. They make a light lunch and pair well with a bowl of soup for dinner. The recipe calls for bibb lettuce, but any variety with large, soft leaves will work.

Salmon-Lettuce Wrap With Asian Dipping Sauce

Makes 6 servings


Dipping sauce

2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce

3 tbsp hoisin sauce

2 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tsp sesame oil

2 tsp finely grated ginger

1 large garlic clove, finely minced


3 (6 oz) salmon fillets

12 large bibb lettuce leaves, washed and dried

1½ cups cooked brown rice or barley

1 small jicama, peeled and sliced into matchsticks (about 1 cup)

1 cup shredded carrots

½ lb pea pods, diagonally sliced (about 1 cup)

6 green onions, diagonally sliced

chopped peanuts (optional)


1. In a small bowl, whisk together dipping sauce ingredients. Set aside.

2. Heat a large nonstick grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add salmon and grill 4-5 minutes per side or until firm and flaky.

3. Top each lettuce leaf with brown rice (or barley), salmon, jicama, carrots, pea pods, and green onions. Roll up each leaf, and place seam-side down on a serving dish. Garnish with peanuts if desired. Serve immediately with dipping sauce.

Per serving

292 calories, 21 g protein, 22 g carbohydrate, 13 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 46 mg cholesterol, 4 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 373 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 39%

Kale Storm

Kale salads (unlike those made with lettuce) keep well in the refrigerator for several days. Tossing the leaves with lemon dressing helps break down the tough fibers. Allow the salad to stand at least 5 minutes before serving to ensure that it’s tender.

Lemony Kale Salad

Makes 6 servings



2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 shallot, finely minced

1 tsp honey

¼ tsp kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper to taste


1 large bunch kale (about 1 lb), ribs removed and thinly sliced (try lacinato kale, also known as dinosaur or Tuscan kale)

½ cup fresh or frozen shelled edamame

1 cup shredded carrots

1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled and julienned

2 tbsp unsalted pumpkin seeds

2 oz shaved pecorino cheese


1. In a small bowl, whisk together vinaigrette ­ingredients. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, toss together kale, edamame, carrots, and apple.

3. Add vinaigrette to salad and toss thoroughly. Let stand at least 5 minutes.

4. Garnish salad with ­pumpkin seeds and cheese just before serving.

Per serving

206 calories, 7 g protein, 17 g carbohydrate, 14 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 3 mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 212 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 58%

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Show Sources


Elisabetta Politi, MPH, RD, LDN, CDE, nutrition director of the Duke Diet and Fitness Center, Durham, N.C.

Cooperative Extension Service, University of Kentucky: “Water Content of Fruit and Vegetables.”

Agricultural Marketing Resource Center: “Lettuce.”

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