Take this as advice from someone who dares to bring salad to a pizza and ice cream party: Your next party needs this stunning salad, because it satisfies everyone's craving for something green on their plate while being darn delicious too.
It includes everything you expect from a spring salad, like tender baby kale and arugula, fresh blueberries, salty pistachios, briny feta cheese, and hello, edible flowers! But let's talk about the real brains of this beauty — the easiest blush-vinaigrette, a clever mix of honey and red wine vinegar dressing with the sweetest pink hue and a deliciously balanced flavor.
Get ready because once you bring this salad to a party, everyone will be expecting it at the next book club/baby shower/pizza party and you'll be invited to a lot more of them.
The Pretty Party Salad
The phrase "pretty party salad" is actually good advice for preparing a salad to be the centerpiece of a party. For guests to dive in, it needs to be more than a bag of salad mix tossed in a bowl. Every ingredient here plays a part in turning this salad into a knockout without discounting taste. Here's who does what in the party bowl and tips for arranging them.
- The blush vinaigrette should be made before building the salad. The longer it sits, the sweeter the garlic and shallot will become.
- The red onions in this salad get a quick pickle, which not only makes them less sharp, but also turns them a pretty pink hue.
- Build the base of the salad from baby kale and arugula. Each has a peppery bite, but also have the volume and curl that makes this salad pretty. If you can't find baby kale on its own, look for a baby kale mix. Avoid the "spring mix," as it tends to wilt faster on the table.
- Don't buy pre-crumbled feta cheese. Blocks of feta tend to have a creamier texture and are higher quality than the pre-crumbled variety.
Buying and Finding Edible Flowers
Nasturtium flowers can be hard to find at the regular grocery store, especially during the winter months. My local Whole Foods sells them from May to July, but your best bet is a local florist or farmers market. Don't buy a nasturtium plant from large-scale nurseries to put on your salad — they are often treated with fertilizer and pesticides not intended for ingestion.
The Ultimate Spring Party Salad
For the vinaigrette:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons finely chopped shallot
1 tablespoon honey
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
For the pickled onions:
1/4 medium red onion, thinly sliced
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
For the salad:
6 cups baby kale mix (about 5 ounces)
6 cups arugula (about 5 ounces)
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup shelled toasted pistachios, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 2 ounces)
1/4 cup edible nasturtium flowers
Make the vinaigrette: Place all the ingredients in a jar, seal, and shake to emulsify; set aside.
Pickle the onion: Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Meanwhile, place the red onion slices in a fine-mesh strainer. Working over the sink, pour the boiling water over the onion and drain. Place in a small bowl. Add the vinegar, sugar, and salt. Stir to combine and dissolve the salt and sugar. Set aside for 30 minutes. Strain off the pickling liquid.
Assemble the salad: Pile the kale mix and arugula onto a serving platter or large, shallow salad bowl and toss with 1/3 cup of the dressing. Arrange the pickled red onion, blueberries, pistachios, and feta cheese on top of the greens. Scatter the nasturtiums around the salad. Serve alongside the remaining vinaigrette.
- Make ahead: The vinaigrette can be made and refrigerated up to 3 days ahead. The onions can be pickled and stored in the pickling liquid in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.