Just as spring unfurls its greenery in the garden, a similar pigment begins to color my cooking as we move into April, May and June. I’m craving leafy spring greens and asparagus, fresh green onions and herbs and bright flavors of citrus that remind me warmer days are in the forecast.
I hunger for other harbingers of spring, too, like eggs, spring lamb, rhubarb and, by June, the seasonal, local strawberries I dream about all year.
For a quick and tasty sheet pan supper that’s perfect for spring (and good enough for company), try this recipe for Tarragon Chicken with Asparagus, Lemon and Leeks. You can swap the chicken for tofu if you want to make it vegan, or try with any type of fish. If you can’t find fresh tarragon, use another fresh herb of your choice rather than dried. (Line your baking sheet with parchment paper and there’s barely any cleanup!)
This simple Shades of Green salad comes from one of my favorite cookbook authors, Susie Middleton, who has a great way with vegetables. It goes with any spring menu and the lime dressing adds a nice pop of citrus.
I don’t know whether to call this next recipe a warm salad or a shameless way to fit French onion dip into my spring meal plan instead of waiting for the potato chips and my first beach barbecue.
Either way, this recipe for Sautéed Kale with Burnt Green Onion Dip from restaurateur and cookbook author Yotam Ottolenghi is a scrumptious (if slightly sinful) way to get your greens. I would advocate for just a dollop of dip over your serving of kale, rather than heaps of it—and you might also find that a chip or two makes it into the dip. (A note on kale: In case you missed it, kale just landed at the top of the Environmental Working Group’s 2019 list of “dirty” foods—foods with the most pesticide contaminates. So opt for organic whenever you can and in any case wash it well before using—the same goes for spinach and strawberries.)
I love the Middle Eastern flavors in this next recipe (also by Ottolenghi) for Lamb & Pistachio Patties with Sumac Yogurt Sauce. It’s a more casual changeup from a lamb roast or fancy chops. The sauce is flavored with dried sumac, a popular spice in Middle Eastern cooking. It’s got a lemony citrus taste and can be sprinkled on cooked rice or used to flavor roasted meats and vegetables. (Otherwise, substitute lemon zest.) Pair the lamb patties with Ottolenghi’s recipe for Couscous, Cherry Tomato & Herb Salad.
We all know spring in New England can be a tease. One day it’s 70° and the next day it’s 40° and raining sideways. Here’s a soup you’ll love to get you through the latter. The recipe is from everyone’s favorite: Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa. I’ve served her Fresh Pea Soup as a lovely first course on Easter and I’ve made it just to have on hand for a quick weekday lunch. The flavors are bright, the soup is colorful and it’s the perfect antidote to a dreary wet day.
Eggs are a favorite in my book, and who doesn’t love a recipe that can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner? Spring is Cinco de Mayo time too, so here is a recipe for Huevos Rancheros with Blistered Salsa Roja adapted from America’s Test Kitchen. (Since ATK requires an online subscription, I’ve found this adapted recipe from another terrific food blog.) I suppose you could use bottled salsa as a substitute, but for this I would advocate for the real deal.
Another egg dish that’s also fit for breakfast, lunch or dinner is this flavorful Spring Veggie Frittata. Here you can cook the frittata in advance, refrigerate and serve at room temperature or reheat to serve warm. (And, just saying, it’s terrific with the green salad I mentioned above.)
Because I can’t make up my mind which spring dessert best fits this ever-changing season, I’m going to end with three options to satisfy any sweet tooth. For those like me who can’t get enough lemon, you’ll love this delicious Lemon Ricotta Cake.
Rhubarb is one of the first edible plants to pop out of the ground in spring—celebrate its arrival with this cloud-like Meringue Cake with Rhubarb Preserves that’s filled with whipped Chantilly cream. And lastly, a dead-simple and gluten-free dessert for fresh strawberries in season (or not, if you can’t wait until June!): Try this recipe for Honey Crème Fraîche Strawberries with toasted almonds and caramelized bananas.
Happy spring cooking!
Genie McPherson Trevor is the founding editor of Edible Rhody magazine, a quarterly food journal that celebrates the local, seasonal bounty of Rhode Island. Edible Rhody is a member of Edible Communities, the James Beard award-winning publishing group with over 80 local Edible magazines in print across the United States and Canada.
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