OK, so technically spring doesn’t start until Sunday, but for the sake of that “spring forward” business we dealt with last week, let’s just assume that we’re already in the next season. Along with longer days and warmer weather (hopefully coming soon), spring brings with it a bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables, from strawberries to bright peas and onions. As you peruse your local farmers market or browse the aisles of your grocery store, look for stalks of rhubarb; it’s a seasonal spring pick that, while a bit bitter on its own, can be easily sweetened up in some classic desserts and pairs well with naturally sweet fruits, like those fresh strawberries. Read on below to check out some of the best ways to put rhubarb to work.
Repeat after us: You will not buy gloopy, mayo-clad, made-yesterday pasta salad from the deli container this summer. No way. As the most-fun salad of all the salads (seriously), summer pasta salad is the one irresistible picnic side we just can’t wait to make, partly because of how crazy-easy it is to throw together. Taken cold with an array of pasta shapes, the pasta salad genre can take so many different forms, each fresh, satisfying and bound to bulk up your picnic without much effort. Toss these bold summer pasta salads at home for on-the-go eating ideal for any outdoor potluck, low-key picnic or backyard cookout you come across this summer.
Make your first pasta salad of the season extra-special by doing it up with cheesy tortellini. Rachael Ray uses the tender store-bought stuffed pasta for an extra-satisfying Spinach Artichoke Pasta Salad (pictured above) that will be the star of the potluck from the very first spoonful.
Get excited, because your love for soup no longer has to be put away with your winter jacket and scarf. Just because it’s getting warmer outside doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a comforting bowl of avocado soup or a ginger-carrot creation. In fact, these soups were made for sunnier times. Just like as chili warms you up while it’s snowing outside, there are chilled concoctions that can cool you down and nutrient-rich spring veggie versions that can boost your energy. Either way, soup lovers, rejoice!
Chilled Avocado Soup (pictured above)
Move on over, guacamole — there’s a new avocado dish in town. Marcela Valladolid’s Chilled Avocado Soup, served cold , is a beautiful dinner option for the warmer months. With a bit of spice from serrano chiles and fresh flavor from the avocado and lemon juice, it would be a surefire hit at any spring get-together.
The bright colors and seasonal produce packed into this quick-fix dish are a sure sign that it’s practically singing with springtime flavor — and the fact that the word “spring” is baked into the recipe title doesn’t hurt either. Food Network Magazine’s Pasta Primavera with Beets, Radishes and Radicchio (primavera means “spring” in Italian) comes together simply and in a hurry thanks to one key timesaving shortcut: precooked beets. When you’re shopping the grocery store, look for vacuum-packed cooked beets; using these instead of buying raw beets (then roasting and peeling them at home), will shave at least an hour off of dinnertime prep.
When it comes to the sauce for this satisfying pasta, simple is best. Sweet red onions and garlic form the flavor base, while the vinegar-laced beets, peppery radishes and crunchy radicchio combine to create an over-the-top mash-up of tastes and textures. For a welcome pop of green as well as a fragrant finish, toss the pasta with chopped basil, plus ricotta salata for an indulgent bite.
Who are we kidding? You probably aren’t on the edge of your seat waiting for peas to come in season. That’s because, as far as frozen fare goes, peas are the king, requiring little defrosting before you can toss them into a dish and start eating. Still, even if that lifestyle works for the rest of the year, springtime is the time to get your fresh pea fix. In the spirit of the season, we’ve got quite a few ways for you to put these little green gems to use. Most of these recipes call for the frozen alternative, but you can make your dishes worthy of springtime by swapping in the fresh stuff to your heart’s content.
When a need for pasta salad arises, Ina Garten’s Pasta, Pesto and Peas (pictured above) is the freshest way you can make it. Toss the pasta with homemade pesto and be sure to swap in fresh peas for frozen for that extra pop.
The utterance “I’m going to get a salad” often evinces visions of diets and other streaks of healthy eating. But, if you’re asking me, leafy greens and their accompaniments are anything but punishment. On the contrary, our favorite green salads emanate fresh vibrancy with every invigorating bite. Plus, when they’re enjoyed as a main dish, they bring a certain brightness to the main event. Next time you’re on the hunt for a side dish, think of these glorious side salad recipes for all kinds of leafy greens.
I can still taste the tang of fresh rhubarb as my mom picked long stalks of the stuff from our garden as a kid. (I also remember yelling to my friends who always seemed to be grabbing it for a snack, “No! That’s not celery!”) But what a transformation: How soft rhubarb became in the oven, set in a custard pie filling along with sweet strawberries. Strawberry-rhubarb is the killer combination of spring. So as those first stalks are spotted in markets everywhere, these recipes are on our radar:
The Classic Approach:
1. Rhubarb Custard Pie: This is it! This is exactly the sweet and creamy pie I remember, the one I’ll make for our kids this spring.
Amazing grains, how sweet the sound! (That is how the song goes … right?) Either way, there’s no denying the awesome powers of whole grains. Beyond the obvious health benefits of swapping them in for pasta, white rice and more, using grains as a nourishing alternative brings a welcome quirkiness to your go-to side dishes.
1. Take the rice out of your fried rice by using farro instead.
The glory of digging fried rice out of a takeout container could never be fully replaced, but making a good grain swap is a sure way to keep things interesting. Look to farro, an Italian grain of wheat that’s satisfyingly tender and chewy, for Healthy Farro Fried “Rice” (pictured above) that ups the texture of the classic Asian staple.
There’s a time and a place for a really involved recipe — and cooking with fresh, seasonal asparagus in springtime is not one of those times. It doesn’t take much for a side of asparagus to shine. When in-season asparagus is simply roasted, steamed or grilled, its innate flavors are given the chance to come out without any distractions. In the spirit of loving asparagus in its truest state, each of these spring-focused recipes is as simple as it gets, using just eight ingredients at the very most.
With just four ingredients on the roster, Ina Garten’s Roasted Asparagus (pictured above) reins in more than 300 reviews and a five-star rating. Simply drizzle fresh asparagus with quality olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt, as well as freshly ground black pepper, and roast until tender but still crisp. Watch Ina Garten make it herself and you’ll never have lackluster asparagus again.
Baby, it’s spring outside! The temp is climbing, birds are chirping and bundles of in-season asparagus, artichokes and more are starting to line the supermarkets. But one of the most-captivating elements of this vibrant season is, unarguably, the moment when those first flowers begin to bloom. If you can’t wait to bear witness to spring’s bloom, or if you don’t have the resources to build your own bright and sunshiny garden, these floral-minded recipes might just be enough to brighten up your kitchen.
You might be accustomed to digging ice cream right out of a cardboard pint, but Ree Drummond’s Ice Cream Flowerpot Desserts (pictured above) bring the ice-cold treat to bright, blossoming heights. Before you start filling up clay flowerpots with real-life flowers, clean them and load ‘em up with slices of pound cake and scoops of ice cream. Cover the tops with crushed chocolate cookies to get the look of dirt before you go full-on spring with chewy gummy worms and fresh-cut flowers.