Spring has some of the most flavorful produce, but sadly is one of our shortest seasons. I always do my best to take full advantage of these couple months and the plethora of veggies at our fingertips.
The warm months may inspire me the most. Emerging out of the cloudy, lagging Winter days and setting foot into that sunshine - open windows - fresh lunches time of year. I'm taking a step back from soups, stews, and all of those filling winter lunches that merge into dinner to embrace fresh snacks and quick meals that don't involve an oven or much preparation. Amongst asparagus, radishes, beans, fiddleheads, ramps, and rhubarb, there's enough flavor to mostly stand on their own, which is why they make the best mostly raw meals with just a little TLC.
Here are 10 go-to quick meals to preserve that Spring goodness as long as possible, and an upbeat sunshine vibin' playlist to keep you dancing in the kitchen and right out the door.
Asparagus is one of those vegetables we don't often think of eating raw, but when shaved thin and tossed in the right vinaigrette, it offers a sweet crunch and can stand alone as a perfect late Spring lunch. Add some sharp flakes of parmesan and fresh cracked pepper and there ya have it.
While rhubarb can transform a dessert from pretty good to an unreal-holy-shit-that-was-amazing level, it can also do wonders for cocktails. Karen from Family Style Food makes a mean cocktail, and this rhubarb lime cocktail proves it. The rhubarb syrup recipe can also be used for a ton of other beverages, desserts or added to a yogurt bowl!
3. Radish Salsa
I'm addicted to radishes. I add them to everything from salads to my roasted veggies and eat them with salted butter in between. So when I came across The Live-In Kitchen's radish salsa recipe I couldn't believe I hadn't thought of it. With the perfect amount of spice, this salsa is really fresh and probably won't last more than half an hour on the table.
People lose their minds over fiddleheads. I'm not sure if it's partially because of their short-lived season or just the delicious taste. But I do know pesto is good with everything, and Anna Brones's fiddlehead version is no exception. Paired with crackers and a perfect 6-minute egg is what an ideal afternoon in the sun looks like.
I often forget about peas and how versatile they can be. Mashed with lemon, garlic, and parsley make them a perfect Spring snack. This recipe from Bon Appetit does involve a little bit of stove time to tenderize the peas, but only about 5 minutes and it's worth it in the end. This is best with a really thick cut, crusty bread.
This is one of my favorite quick lunches. With only a few ingredients, it's packed with flavor. These cucumbers from Dishing up the Dirt are so refreshing and light, making them perfect for a hotter day. Another bonus, you probably have all of these ingredients in your pantry and fridge as we speak. If you don't, invest in some good tahini, miso, and sesame oil. A little bit of their flavor goes a long way.
So this one does require some work, but it's minimal and involves a grill which means being outside, which means sunshine, which means everything is amazing and everyone is happy. I only discovered grilling whole romaine leaves a year or so ago when I had the most delicious Caesar salad that had been tossed right on the grill. Floating Kitchen's recipe is flawless. The leaves slightly soften at the ends but keep that crunch in the middle and it adds a nice smoky flavor to the dish. Also, we already know we love grilled corn and avocado so there's really no downside to this salad.
I'm pretty sure you either love fennel or hate it. But maybe this take on a panzanella from Cookie + Kate will be the game changer for the fennel haters out there. If you make some homemade croutons beforehand, you can toss this meal together in mere minutes. With the handful of greens in this salad, it shies away from a panzanella but still has the roughly chopped style to it. Plus, there are more Spring peas! Let's use all the peas!
Chicken salad is my go to when it starts to get warmer. I always poach some chicken breasts at the beginning of the week to toss on a salad or with pasta for an easy dinner. Smitten Kitchen's chicken salad is one of the best. She roasts her chicken, which gives it a good smoky flavor. Tossed with roughly chopped radishes, cucumbers, and celery give it the perfect crunch with every bite. Although I think the real secret here is the horseradish.
I know, I might be a little too into toasts right now, but when I don't feel like spending too much time in the kitchen this is the answer. You can top anything on a good piece of bread, like Less With Bread's cannellini beans. With just a can of beans, anchovies, garlic, onion and some fresh herbs you are picnic ready. Happy Spring!