In her first cookbook, our friend tosses salads together in a whole new way: They're irresistible, exciting, and delicious any time of day.
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asparagus peas cucumber lettuce salad
Credit: Linda Pugliese

Spring lettuces on the side? Not for us—or for Jess Damuck, the talented cook, food stylist, and all-around kitchen whiz behind the new book Salad Freak: Recipes to Feed a Healthy Obsession ($29.99, booksamillion.com). Inside, the former Martha staffer tosses together 100 colorful creations that fill the plate and satisfy every craving. Take a preview, and turn your next meal into an earthly delight.

Asparagus, Peas, and Cucumber "Cacio E Pepe"

Classic cacio e pepe—pasta swirled in copious amounts of cheese and cracked black pepper—is heavenly, but undeniably heavy; those same fixings, however, are downright airy on blanched peas and "noodles" of thinly sliced cucumbers and broiled asparagus for Asparagus, Peas, and Cucumber "Cacio E Pepe," pictured above. Drizzle on a quick dressing of lemon juice, grated garlic cloves, and extra-virgin olive oil for a comfort-food update that puts even more spring in your step.

crunchy salmon salad cucumber radish
Credit: Linda Pugliese

Bright and Crunchy Salmon

Melt-in-your-mouth salmon is the foundation for this Thai-inspired entrée for two. Mint, cilantro, and basil lend delicate yet dynamic flavor to balance the rich fish; cucumbers, watermelon radish, fried shallots, and roasted peanuts bring intrigue and crunch in Bright and Crunchy Salmon. Why stop there? Sprinkle rice cereal on top for some crackle, and dive in.

rhubarb strawberries toasted buckwheat salted honeycomb
Credit: Linda Pugliese

Rhubarb and Strawberries with Toasted Buckwheat and Salted Honeycomb

This deconstructed parfait is fruity, creamy, and lip-smackingly dreamy. Raw rhubarb offers refreshing tartness; a stalk turns into skinny ribbons lickety-split with the help of a julienne peeler. Sweeten it with the ripest strawberries you can find and golden slices of honeycomb from the farmers' market or a specialty food shop (a drizzle of honey works, too). Spoon the mixture onto ricotta or yogurt, and add toasted buckwheat for a nutty note and a dash of sea salt for depth and Rhubarb and Strawberries with Toasted Buckwheat and Salted Honeycomb is sure to dazzle your tastebuds.

citrus breakfast salad spicy chile granola
Credit: Linda Pugliese

Morning Sun

To assemble a citrus salad that's as plump and juicy—and eye-openingly pretty—as possible, take the time to segment, slice, and supreme fruits that vary in size and color. This bright Citrus Breakfast Salad with Spicy Chile Granola combines blood oranges, Cara Caras, and satsuma mandarins. Scoop plain yogurt on top and finish with an element of surprise: make-ahead spicy granola, enlivened with a teaspoon of chile-infused oil.

lamb meatballs cucumber herbs
Credit: Linda Pugliese

Roll Call

Made with ingredients Damuck picked up in a Persian grocery store, this composition takes cues from Middle Eastern cuisine. These Lamb Meatballs with Cucumbers and Herbs are flecked with coriander, cinnamon, and cumin rest on a bed of dill, parsley, and mint. (Technique tip: Wet your hands before forming the balls to prevent sticking.) Serve them with a swipe of labneh and quick-pickled red onions and golden raisins—and enjoy the culinary journey.

beets tomatoes cilantro basil mozzarella
Credit: Linda Pugliese

Three Cheers

Move over, summertime basil-and-mozzarella. Tomatoes can shine in other simple combos year-round. In this recipe for Beets, Tomatoes, and Cilantro, the sweet, earthy notes of roasted beets complement the tart juiciness of heirloom and cherry varieties (but any ripe tomato can stand in). And sprigs of cilantro bring herbaceous zing. Together, the trio is unexpected yet delicious.

Excerpted from the new book Salad Freak: Recipes to Feed a Healthy Obsession, by Jess Damuck, published by Abrams. Text © 2022 by Jess Damuck. Photography by Linda Pugliese

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