12 Seasonal Spring Recipes That Are Super Easy to Make
Spring may have technically started on March 20th this year, but personally, I think spring doesn’t really get going until we start seeing seasonal spring ingredients around the grocery stores and farmers’ markets. Don’t get me wrong, I love winter vegetables (Brussels sprouts and collards are two of my very favorite things in this world), but when we start seeing fresh sweet peas, asparagus, and watercress hit the stands, that’s when I know I can really start looking forward to warmer months.
One of the hyper-seasonal springtime ingredients that everyone seems to make an annual fuss over is ramps. Personally, I’ve never quite gotten it — I like onions just fine, but these never seem especially amazing to me — but if you’re going to go for them, I seriously recommend this fantastic Asparagus and Ramp Soup with Yogurt recipe (or just sautéeing them with a little garlic and olive oil).
Morels are subtly nutty, woodsy wild mushrooms that start to come up in early April and are usually available until about mid-May. If you’re lucky, you can snap some up at your local farmer’s market or grocery store, and while they’re delightful prepared all kinds of ways (I’m a fan of just sautéeing them in grass-fed butter and finishing with a dash of sea salt, personally) this morel mushroom and quinoa salad is an especially healthful, flavorful way to enjoy a very seasonal treat. This recipe makes use of reconstituted dried morels, but you can absolutely substitute with the fresh variety since it’s the height of season.
Yellowfin tuna are plentiful on the California coast in April, and unlike some other kinds of tuna, wild-caught yellowfin receives a “best choice” from Seafood Watch. It has a mild, meaty flavor, and while it’s leaner than its cousin bluefin, it has a fuller flavor than albacore. It’s a healthful, quick option for a weeknight meal — serve with garlic sesame stir-fried asparagus, which are also in season.
We’re smack dab in the center of artichoke season, so now’s a great time to get the most out of one of the sweetest, strangest flowers you can consume (yup, the artichoke is part of the thistle family, and is thus technically a very thorny flower). Typically, I just steam artichokes until the leaves are easily wiggled and serve them whole with a bowl for discarded petals in the center of the table (it’s not my most elegant dish, but it’s so tasty, who cares). However, this Mediterranean roasted artichoke recipe is seriously fun and flavorful, with capers, feta, and garlic — and it would make an excellent appetizer or side.
Lamb chops are a spring staple, and with good reason — mild and tender, lamb is packed with vitamin B12 and tons of zinc, and grass-fed lamb is a great source of omega-3s. I love this recipe for its absolutely pure simplicity; I made it last week, and served with roasted baby potatoes with rosemary and the delicious carrot salad below.
This is pretty much exactly the carrot ribbon salad that’s taking TikTok by storm, and I totally get why — it’s easy, fast, textural, pretty, and tastes fantastic. Pro tip: After shaving your carrot ribbons, toss them in an ice bath for a few minutes before adding the dressing. I threw in a big dash of apple cider vinegar and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice for a touch of brightness. For an alternative flavor profile more in keeping with the TikTok trend, you could dress it with toasted sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, and chopped scallions.
This easy dinner recipe calls for canned or jarred artichokes — which are a great staple to keep in your cupboard — but since it’s the height of artichoke season, you could absolutely substitute for freshly-prepared artichoke hearts (and use the leaves to make this appetizer with feta and black olives). If you’re not in the mood to open a bottle of wine (or don’t want to share your wine with the chicken) you can always use chicken broth with a little bit of whole-grain mustard and a dash of apple cider vinegar.
7. Pea Hummus
Creative plays on hummus are a surprisingly hot-button issue for purists out there, but as someone who makes hummus on a weekly basis, I think it can sometimes be fun to throw in a new ingredient or two. (Beet hummus and carrot hummus, I’m looking at you.) This springtime hummus is a perfect way to use fresh spring peas, which are in season throughout the months of April and May. For crudités, consider sliced bell peppers, sugar snap peas, carrots, and English cucumbers.
April marks the start of crab season in Maryland, and while fortunate locals can enjoy crabbing in the Chesapeake Bay, the rest of us can celebrate with crab dishes like healthy baked crab cakes or this phenomenally easy, paleo-friendly simple crab salad. This is a fantastic dish for entertaining because it’s so elegant and makes a pricey ingredient like crab stretch — just one pound can feed your whole party, giving you the opportunity to supplement with less-expensive snacks like Greek yogurt deviled eggs and za’atar popcorn.
Lamb is such a staple of the Mediterranean diet, and in my extremely biased opinion, it’s basically the best meat out there. This lamb bowl is a great way to make use of ground lamb, which you can find at most butcher shops, but you could also absolutely make lamb chops and carve them up for this salad (or substitute with ground chicken or turkey, if you’d prefer). This bowl is so well-spiced, and it’s a great way to use up any leftover roast vegetables you have on hand, too. I like to make the base with wild rice, and throw in some wilted baby spinach, too.
April is the beginning of watercress season, and unlike kale, this is one of those greens that just doesn’t get enough love. It’s got such a fun texture and big, peppery flavor, and I love salads like this one that are based in watercress but offset it with something creamy (in this case, avocado) and sweet (the orange segments). It’s a great side dish, or you could top it with some canned chickpeas or a seared tuna filet for a lunch or light dinner.
Asparagus are in season, and that means I’ve been making them at least twice a week — usually just tossing them on a sheet pan with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, and serving as a simple side. However, if you’re up for something a touch more complex, this delicate risotto makes such a perfect springtime meal — and as recipe author Gina Homolka notes, it would be excellent topped with grilled shrimp or seared scallops. I’ll admit that this one isn’t easy in that it requires constant attention, but it definitely doesn’t require any advanced techniques, either — if you have the patience to stir, you can make risotto.
If you live in the north or west, come back to this one in a month or two, but if you live in the deep south, strawberry season is just beginning — and fortunately, it overlaps with the end of spinach season. A strawberry-spinach salad is such a great combination of flavors, and it can easily be made into a full meal by adding a pan-seared chicken breast or sliced steak on top.
Jess Novak is the Head of Content and Audience Development for Clean Plates. She’s passionate about making meals that taste like they’re not healthy but secretly really are. You can follow her on Instagram @jtothenovak.
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