Ready to ditch the squash and potatoes and lighten up the menu? We certainly are! It’s natural to fill our bellies with hearty foods that warm our insides during those cold winter months. But as temperatures heat up and fresh fruits and vegetables reappear on the culinary scene, our palette prefers a lighter, more vibrant fare. If you are one for spring dining outdoors, try your hand at designing the patio you’ve been dreaming about so you can enjoy meals outside all season long. Eating seasonally provides a range of benefits. By purchasing produce during its peak growing season, prices go down and your savings go up! Fruits and vegetables are available in more areas, as opposed to only in locations with year-round growing seasons. This cuts down on shipping costs and time, resulting in more affordable, fresher and tastier food. The benefits of seasonal eating could go on and on, which is why we created this handy guide of ingredients for spring, and rounded up some of our favorite recipes that incorporate the fixings. (Make sure to pin it for your next grocery run). If you are wondering what foods are in season near you, check out Epicurious’ seasonal ingredient map.
1) Quinoa Salad with Asparagus, Peas, Avocado & Lemon Basil Dressing
This satiable salad combines three seasonal ingredients from our list, along with quinoa and a light lemon balsamic dressing, making it a healthful option for lunch or dinner. This gluten free, vegetarian dish can be served warm or cold, and makes a delightfully sin-free side or main.
2) Grilled Salmon with Mint & Basil Sauce
Fresh mint…we can almost smell it now! Mint is notorious for its ability to add a burst of fresh flavor to a range of cocktails, such as the infamous mint mojito. But, it’s also a glorious compliment to several spring sauces. We love how the mint paired with lemon and basil in this creamy sauce adds some spring zing to your everyday grilled salmon.
3) Rhubarb Cupcakes
Referred to as the “the first fruit of the season
,” rhubarb grows like wild flowers in the spring and can undoubtedly be found in any garden, farmers market or grocery store this time of the year. (If you are starting your own spring garden, here are some tips
to get you underway.) Rhubarb is often paired with strawberries – another spring fruit – and adds a sweet tang to any dish. Instead of the traditional strawberry-rhubarb pie, tryout a new rhubarb dessert, like these pastel pink rhubarb cupcakes for your next spring fling.
4) Quinoa Salad with Spinach, Strawberries and Blueberries
Bring on the berries! Springtime marks the beginning of the growing season for most fruits, which means a break from buying frozen and a real treat for our taste buds. It’s also the time when spinach is harvested, making this next recipe an ideal spring meal. Simply combine the seasonal ingredients with quinoa and drizzle the homemade balsamic vinaigrette for a light and satisfying lunch or afternoon snack.
5) Chicken Artichoke Flatbread
Artichokes are available year round, but their peak season is March through May. While a bit tricky to prepare (and to figure out how to eat if you’re a first timer), this delectable vegetable adds smooth flavor and texture to any spring dish. Here are some tips on artichoke preparation from Food & Wine
. To impress guests at your next spring soirée, bring out this easy Chicken Artichoke Flatbread appetizer, which also includes fresh, seasonal spinach!
6) Strawberry Rhubarb Mojito
Spring calls for lively libations to sip into the sunset as the days continue to get longer. To upgrade your patio for spring entertaining, check out these clever tips
. When choosing what cocktails to serve, think light and crisp. We love how this mojito recipe blends so many spring ingredients and takes a surprising turn from the traditional mojito. Naturally sweet, this recipe calls for simple syrup as an option, making it the perfect drink to enjoy in preparation for what’s next -- swimsuit season!
7) Green Goddess Pasta
Frozen, then thawed, heated up and consumed, peas sometimes get a bad rep. But eat them fresh and your perception on peas will totally change. With peas, asparagus, avocado, and arugula, this recipe is named “Green Goddess” for a reason and packs a punch of nutrients and taste. PS. if you have never tried avocado with pasta before, now is the time to get adventurous.
8) Simple Oat & Pecan Blueberry Crisp
Spring cooking is all about highlighting the natural taste of delicious foods that are bursting with flavor this time of the year. This simple blueberry crisp brings the delicate blueberry flavor front and center, making it a clear choice for a spring dessert. The oats and pecans keep the calories down to keep you feeling light, carefree and content – just like spring!
We are always looking for fun ideas for spring entertaining, so share your secret, seasonal recipes below. What is your favorite time of the year for eating seasonally?