Love asparagus? I do and I hope you do too! And that means it’s time to take advantage of local asparagus and make a French country salad! It’s fresh, yummy, and bursting with flavor. And isn’t that just what you want for spring?
Okay, you don’t have to have local asparagus because this salad is awesome either way. It’s just that my local farm stand opened last week and the fresh asparagus was so amazing I want to feed it to all of you right now! During the off season, I forget just how amazing in season, local produce can be. And then I taste it. NOM. 🙂
So, if you have the time, money, and inclination, I would recommend trying local foods when you can. Want to know what’s in season in your area and when? Check out this local food guide! (It’s only US based – if you have a site that does other world regions, let me know and I’ll add it.)
*gets off local food soapbox* How are you guys doing? Spring is in full force here. The lawn is growing gangbusters, evenings are long and warm, and there are flowers everywhere. I’m so glad I don’t have to deal with seasonal allergies (my sympathy for those who do), because spring is my favorite time of the year.
And it’s the perfect time to follow through on all those ‘eating healthy’ resolutions. Recently, I shared a Kale and Freekeh Buddha Bowl (don’t be scared of freekeh – it’s a lot like bulgur) and this week I have a French country salad to keep us healthy and loving it. Because no one is going to eat healthy over the long term unless their taste buds are happy.
This salad is inspired by the salad at the Cheesecake Factory. I won’t say it’s a copycat since I more went with their ingredients than try to make the exact salad, but either way I love it!
Is Local Food Better for You?
Hopping back on my local food soapbox, it all depends on your definition of better!
Basically, getting fruits and vegetables in your diet, whether they are local, from the supermarket, frozen, or canned is better than not having fruits and vegetables. Always. It’s better to eat that rainbow than to not eat it because your rainbow isn’t perfect. If time, money, and availability make eating local not something which is accessible to you, then it’s best to go with what you can do.
However, if adding some local foods to your diet is something can do, but just aren’t thinking about in your shopping trips, now is the time to try it!
Where local food is better comes down to:
- flavor (fresher produce has better flavor, also food is allowed to ripen more before harvest)
- supporting small businesses (diversity in food sources is generally a good thing)
- carbon footprint (the food didn’t travel as far)
- niche produce (many fruits and vegetable varieties don’t do well in factory farming, eating local helps preserve varietals from being lost)
How to Make French Country Salad
There are a few moving parts in making this salad, but most of them can be done ahead so don’t feel you have to do it all in one go.
First, roast your beets. Roasting beets takes a while so it’s good to start this first. Wash the beets well and wrap them in foil, then put them in a 375F oven for 45-60 minutes. Once they are cooked through take them out and let cool enough for you to peel them. You can slice them up now for the salad or put them in the fridge to chill overnight.
Next, make some Maple Glazed Pecans. The recipe goes into the details, so I’ll just give you the overview here. Take chopped pecans and saute them in butter, then add maple syrup and let that coat the pecans. Salt them and cool. This is the simplest glazed pecan recipe I know and it has great flavor from the complex sweetness of the maple syrup.
Third, either roast or grill your asparagus. Either way coat the asparagus with olive oil and salt, then add to a hot roasting/grill pan cook until crisp-tender and little browned. Let cool.
Fourth, add all your dressing ingredients to a container, cover it, and shake it well. The dressing will last a few days, just shake again before using it.
Lastly, assemble the salad, layering in the chopped beets, asparagus, and lettuce. Then toss with the dressing and top with goat cheese and glazed pecans.
Want to make the salad, but don’t have time for all the steps?
Two easy ways to streamline the recipe are to purchase glazed pecans and packaged roasted beets. I find both of these in the produce section of my supermarket. At that point all you need to do is roast the asparagus and shake the dressing which makes it an easy 15 minute recipe.
More Spring Salad Ideas:
- Spring Radish and Snap Pea Greek Salad
- Shaved Asparagus and Orange Salad
- Greek Orzo Salad with Feta and Peas
- Fresh Fava Bean and Parmesan Salad
If you try my recipe for French country salad, I would love to hear from you in the comments with your experience and rating! You can connect with me by subscribing to my emails (see the form in the sidebar or below the recipe card), liking my FACEBOOK page, or by following me on PINTEREST.
French country salad is an easy and healthy spring salad featuring asparagus, roasted beets, pecans and goat cheese. Inspired by the Cheesecake Factory salad and perfect for a light lunch or as fresh side at dinner.
- 4 medium beets
- 1 bunch asparagus
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 cup glazed pecans, see notes for recipe
- 8 cups mixed baby lettuce
- 4 oz herbed goat cheese, or plain
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium clove garlic, finely minced or grated
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 375F. Wash beets well and wrap them tightly in foil. Roast the beets for 45-60 minutes, or until tender all the way through. Unwrap the beets and let them cool for 10-15 minutes, then peel and chop them into bite-sized chunks.
Increase the heat in the oven to 450F. Cover a baking sheet with foil. Trim the ends of the asparagus and cut them into 2 inch lengths. Toss with olive oil and salt. Spread the asparagus on the baking sheet and roast for 5-7 minutes, or until crisp-tender.
Make the glazed pecans according to the recipe.
Fill a serving bowl with the lettuce. Add the asparagus and beets. Pour over the dressing and toss to combine. Top with the pecans and goat cheese.
Add all the salad dressing ingredients to a sealable container (or a bowl). Shake (or whisk) until combined. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed.
- Grilling: Alternatively, both the beets and asparagus can be grilled. To grill bring the heat on the grill up to high and heat a grill pan as well. Then add the asparagus and close the grill. Turn it every minute or two until the asparagus is cooked through. Then lower the heat to low on the grill and add the beets. Cook them 30-45 minutes, until tender.
- Glazed Pecans: I used my Simple Maple Glazed Pecans in the recipe.
- To Simplify the Salad: You can use purchased glazed pecans and packaged roasted beets from the supermarket.
- Inspiration: This salad was inspired by a similar salad made by The Cheesecake Factory.