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It is a good idea, I think, to always have these three things in the refrigerator: A homemade soup, a homemade salsa or tangy sauce such as chermoula or chimichurri and some sort of grain salad.

With these dishes on hand, it is easy to enjoy a healthy midday snack, especially if you have teenagers who come and go as they please. It is also a blessing if you work at home or if you simply have a very busy schedule.

Soup is also an easy and delicious breakfast, with some of the salad alongside if you are a big eater in the morning.

Last week’s soup was a potato-sweet potato broth with Cheddar cheese, and the salad was a simple small pasta salad with chickpeas and celery. When it came to salsa, I confess that I cheated with a commercial option, La Casa Foods traditional Mexican salsa.

We all need a reliable cheat now and then, and La Casa Foods makes not only very good salsa but also the best tortilla chips I’ve ever tasted. And they are based in Sonoma.

These three salads are perfect in the spring, as soon as the first tender fava beans appear. We’re starting to see a few already, and they should continue through May, if the weather cooperates.


When serving a rice salad, it is important to pay attention to temperature; it will taste best slightly warm or at room temperature but not cold. If you must make it in advance, remove it from the refrigerator 30 to 45 minutes before serving it. And once it has reached the proper temperature, taste it and correct for salt and acid, as needed.

Spring Rice Salad

Makes 6 servings

— Warm Fava Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

8 fat asparagus stalks, cut into 3/4-inch diagonal slices

— Olive oil

3 1/2 cups cooked rice of choice (see Note below), cooled and fluffed with a fork

— Juice of 1 lemon

— Kosher salt

— Black pepper in a mill

1 small red onion, cut into small dice

6-8 radishes, cut into very small dice

1 cup English peas, blanched and drained

1/2 cup shelled and roasted pistachios

3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves

2 tablespoons fresh snipped chives

8-10 butter lettuce leaves

First, make the vinaigrette, set it aside and keep it warm. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Put the asparagus on a baking sheet, drizzle a little olive oil over them, toss and cook in a 500 degree oven for about 9 minutes, or until the asparagus is tender. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Put the rice into a large bowl, squeeze the lemon juice over it, and season with salt and pepper. Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the onion, radishes, peas, and asparagus and toss gently. Add the pistachios, parsley and chives, toss again, and pour about two-thirds of the warm vinaigrette over everything.

Spread the lettuce leaves over a platter, spoon the salad on top of the leaves, add the remaining dressing and enjoy right away.

Note: Use whatever rice you prefer. Sometimes I use a mix of jasmine or basmati and wild rice; sometimes I use an Italian or Spanish rice and occasionally I use either black “forbidden” rice or red rice.

Warm Fava Vinaigrette

Makes about 1 cup

— Olive oil

1 small shallot, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

— Kosher salt

1/2 cup fresh shelled, blanched and peeled fava beans

1 tablespoon best quality white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

4-5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to taste

— Black pepper in a mill

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or snipped chives

Pour a little olive oil into a small sauté pan set over medium-low heat. Add the shallot and sauté until soft and fragrant, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté 2 minutes more. Season with salt.

Add the favas, vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil; heat through but do not let the mixture boil. Stir, taste, correct for salt and acid balance and season with several turns of black pepper.

Remove from the heat, stir in the thyme or chives and keep warm until ready to use.


This earthy salad is naturally gluten free; vegetarians can simply leave out the sausage and vegans can omit both the sausage and the feta and add whatever they like instead. The most important element is the balance of flavors and contrast of textures. In late spring, add fresh blanched and peeled favas and diced cucumber and when cherry tomatoes come into season, they’ll be delicious in this salad, too.

Brown Rice & Chickpea Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Makes 4 to 6 servings

3/4 cup raw brown rice

— Kosher salt

— Olive oil

3-4 merguez (Moroccan lamb sausage)

1 small sweet onion, peeled and cut into small dice

1 14-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinse

1/2 cup raisins

4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

— Large handful fresh Italian parsley leaves

— Mustard Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Put the brown rice into a small saucepan, add a generous spoonful of salt, a splash of olive oil, and 1 1/4 cup water and bring to a boil over high heat. When the water boils, reduce the heat and simmer until the rice is tender, about 35 to 40 minutes. Turn off the heat, leave the pan covered and let rest 15 minutes. Transfer to a wide shallow bowl, fluff with a fork and let cool slightly.

While the rice cooks, fry the sausage until cooked through; cool slightly and cut into 1/2-inch wide diagonal slices. Put the sausage, onion, chickpeas, raisins, cheese and parsley into a bowl, toss gently and set aside.

Make the mustard vinaigrette.

While the rice is cooling, pour half the vinaigrette over it.

Once the rice has cooled but is still a bit warm, add the sausage mixture and toss gently. Add the remaining vinaigrette, toss again a time or two and serve right away.

Basic Mustard Vinaigrette

Makes about 1 cup

1 shallot, minced

2 garlic cloves, crushed and minced

— Juice of 1 lemon, plus more to taste

— Kosher salt

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

— Black pepper in a mill

2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Put the shallot and garlic into a mixing bowl, add the lemon juice and a generous pinch of salt and set aside for 15 or 20 minutes. Add the mustard and several turns of black pepper and whisk in the olive oil. Taste and correct for acid and salt balance. Set aside until ready to use.


Farro is a staple in my home, something i prepare several times a month. This is my favorite way to enjoy it in the spring.

Spring Farro Salad

Makes 6 to 8 servings

1 cup semi pearled farro, rinsed

— Kosher salt

— Juice of 1 lemon

— Lemon Citronette (recipe follows)

3-4 scallions, trimmed and very thinly sliced

1 cup shelled, blanched, and peeled fava beans

6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

— Generous handful of fresh Italian parsley, chopped

— Small handful of fresh cilantro, chopped, optional

Put the farro into a medium saucepan, cover with water by 2 inches, season generously with salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently until the farro is tender but still has a bit of chew, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes or so and then drain.

Tip the drained farro into a wide, shallow bowl, squeeze the lemon juice over it, toss, and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes.

Make the vinaigrette and pour it over the farro; add the scallions, favas, feta, parsley and cilantro, if using. Toss, taste and correct for salt as needed. Enjoy right away. Refrigerate leftovers and bring to room temperature before serving.

Lemon Citronette

Makes about 2/3 cup

1 small shallot, minced

1-2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

— Kosher salt

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives

— Black pepper in a mill

Put the shallot, garlic and lemon zest into a small wide-mouthed Mason jar, add the lemon juice, and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Season generously with salt, add the olive oil, close the jar and shake vigorously.

Add the chives, season with several turns of black pepper, taste, correct for salt, close the jar and shake again.

Use right away or refrigerate for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before using.

Michele Anna Jordan is the author of 24 books to date, including “Vinaigrettes and Other Dressings.” Email her at michele@micheleannajordan.com.

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