Spring Forward: Seasonal Salads

Peter Som offers three bright salads to have on repeat this season.
Leeks support the immune system, boost heart health and aid digestion. Photography: Peter Som

That long wait from winter to spring can oftentimes feel like a culinary lull, but with some creativity and a bit of imagination, those bright flavors of warmer weather eating can be captured with ease. This trio of salads focuses on those heartier vegetables that are abundant before those summer leafy greens start emerging from the soil. Eggplant, leeks, and winter squash play the starring role, with easy and flavor-packed dressings and vinaigrettes that add a bright punch.

For me, all good salads must be full of flavor and be endlessly adaptable, and these three are just that. Add grilled halloumi, chickpeas or crispy tofu to any of them for a heartier veg-forward meal. Toss the Pomegranate Gremolata with farro or couscous. Add a swirl of labneh under the roasted leek salad. Missing an ingredient? Swap out or add in whatever’s looking delicious from the farm stand.

These vibrant salads are more than shoulder season dishes; they’re versatile back-pocket recipes to take you directly into spring and beyond.


Roasted Leeks With Butter Beans, Hazelnuts and Miso-Dijon Vinaigrette

Serves 4


6 leeks

13  cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon, divided

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

½ cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon white or yellow miso, plus 1 teaspoon, divided

1 (15-ounce) can butter beans, drained and rinsed


1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard

3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1 medium shallot, minced (about 3 tablespoons)

½ cup goat cheese, crumbled, for serving

Flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

Flaky sea salt for finishing


1. Heat oven to 425 F and place a sheet pan in the lower third of the oven. Trim the bases of the leeks, ensuring they are still intact, and cut off dark green parts, reserving only white and light green. Wash thoroughly and pat dry. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Carefully remove the sheet pan from the oven and place leeks cut-side down on the pan (you should hear a sizzle) and roast in the oven for 20 minutes. Turn leeks over and continue to roast for 2 to 3 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a skillet over medium heat, add hazelnuts and toast until fragrant—approximately 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and wipe out the skillet. Return skillet to heat and add butter and 1 teaspoon miso and stir to combine—melt until butter is a golden nutty brown—approximately 2 to 3 minutes—then add butter beans and gently stir to coat and warm the beans. Set aside.

3. Make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon miso, Dijon, whole grain mustard, rice wine vinegar and remaining olive oil. Season with salt (not too much since the miso is salty) and pepper. Place chopped shallot in a wire mesh strainer and rinse under tap water (this’ll mellow out the onion flavor a bit), drain and add to the bowl. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons water to thin out as needed and whisk until fully combined. Vinaigrette can be made up to 2 days ahead and stored in the refrigerator.

4. To serve, arrange leeks cut-side up on a serving plate along with butter beans, hazelnuts, and goat cheese, then drizzle with vinaigrette atop. Garnish with parsley and finish with flaky sea salt and additional olive oil, and serve warm or at room temperature.

Cumin, coriander and chile flakes bring big flavor to this lunch or dinner salad. Photography: Peter Som

Lemony Farro Salad With Roasted Eggplant, Shallots, and Pine Nuts

This salad comes together in a flash and depends on pantry and spice drawer staples to bring big flavor. A quick roast of cubed eggplant and shallots mixed with farro that’s been cooked in stock and spices, along with a few splashes of lemon juice and sherry vinegar, the crunch of pine nuts and the sweetness of golden raisins creates the perfect bite for lunch or dinner. This is the filling yet healthy kind of salad that’ll taste even better the second day, after the flavors have melded.

Serves 4-6


1 cup farro, rinsed

2 cups vegetable stock

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon chile flakes

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 large globe eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes

8 shallots, trimmed and halved (or quartered if large)

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

13  cup pine nuts, toasted

13  cup golden raisins

1 lemon, zested and juiced

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

½ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped, plus more for garnish


1. Heat oven to 425 F.

2. Make the farro: In a saucepan, add farro, stock, bay leaf, cumin, coriander and chile flakes and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 to 23 minutes or until tender and al dente. Remove bay leaf and drain. Set aside.

3. Meanwhile, prepare the eggplant: Place eggplant cubes and shallots on a sheet pan; drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes or until eggplant is charred in spots and tender.

4. To assemble, in a serving bowl, add farro, eggplant, shallots, golden raisins and pine nuts. Add lemon zest and lemon juice, vinegar, parsley and remaining olive oil and toss. Garnish with additional parsley and serve warm or at room temperature.

The perfect texturally rich, low-maintenance dish for your spring salad rotation. Photography: Peter Som

Sheet Pan Roasted Delicata Squash With Chickpeas and Pomegranate Gremolata

Delicata squash is a perfect healthy ingredient because it’s relatively easy to prepare (you don’t even have to peel it) and cook, and its meaty texture is not just hearty but also heart-healthy. This recipe is even easier since almost everything is roasted on the sheet pan—the squash, along with chickpeas for protein—and everything is topped with a vibrant tart-sweet gremolata.

Serves 6


Note: Feel free to substitute delicata squash with your favorite winter squash such as butternut, acorn or kabocha.

2 delicata squash

1 yellow onion

2 garlic cloves, smashed

12 thyme sprigs

½ teaspoon chile flakes

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 teaspoon, divided

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed


¼ cup pomegranate arils

13 cup pine nuts, toasted

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon lemon zest

2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped, plus more for garnish

Kosher salt and black pepper,
to taste

Flaky sea salt, for finishing


1. Heat oven to 450 F.

2. Peel (if desired) and seed squash, then halve lengthwise. Cut each half into -inch
slices. Cut onion into -inch slices. Add squash and onion to a bowl, along with garlic, thyme, chile flakes, fennel seeds and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss to evenly coat squash. Arrange on a parchment-lined sheet pan in a single layer (use two pans if needed), along with the chickpeas.

3. Roast in the oven for 15 to 18 minutes—rotating sheet pans halfway through—until squash is tender.

4. Meanwhile, make the gremolata: In a small bowl, toss the pomegranate arils, pine nuts, lemon juice, lemon zest, parsley and remaining olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

5. To serve, remove thyme sprigs and arrange squash, chickpeas and onions on a platter. Top with gremolata. Finish with flaky sea salt and garnish with more parsley and serve warm or at room temperature.

For more healthy, delicious recipes, visit petersom.com.