Once we make it out of winter and into warmer weather, cooking does a complete 180. While the winter months are full of thick sauces and goopy casseroles, spring is known for lighter entrees that take advantage of fresh spring flavors.
To help make the transition from thick and hearty to fresh and light, use the following spring cooking tips to take full advantage of all spring has to offer food-wise:
Use your grill
You don’t need to wait until the sweltering middle of summer to break out your grill; grilling is acceptable as long as there’s sunshine and warm weather! Take advantage of a pretty day and grill chicken, veggies and even fruit for easy meals you weren’t able to have during the winter.
Between the holidays and cravings for foods that are cheesy and creamy, it can be hard to eat healthy during the winter. So when fresh foods start popping up in the spring, make sure you’re using them! Salads and fresh fruit make great entrees and side dishes during the warmer months as opposed to heavier, heartier options.
Update winter favorites
Just because it’s warmer out doesn’t mean you still can’t eat the foods you enjoyed in the winter, though—just lighten them up to match the season! Instead of heavy cream sauces on pasta, try dressing spaghetti with pesto or sautéed garlic and olive oil. Or, make a cool gazpacho instead of thick chowder if you’re craving soup.
So many foods come into season beginning in April, so make sure you get them at their freshest! Shopping for seasonal foods is a great way to introduce kids to produce they might not have ever tried, from asparagus and avocados to fennel and apricots. Other seasonal spring foods include new potatoes, peas, strawberries, arugula, artichokes, green onions and maple syrup.
Try new cooking techniques
Use seasonal shopping as an opportunity to learn new cooking techniques that involve spring ingredients! Learning things like what to look for in fresh strawberries (they should be firm, fully red and with a cap stem) and how to get brightly colored peas (add ½ tsp. white sugar to water when cooking frozen peas) can turn cooking into a fun and educational activity.
The following recipes each make use of a seasonal spring food; the best time to buy fennel ends in early spring, so make the slaw as soon as possible!
Maple Yogurt Dip Recipe
Makes 1 quart
1 quart plain yogurt
2 teaspoons maple flavor/extract
1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
Mix well. Serve only on the day made. For a thicker dip, drain yogurt in a cheese cloth for a thicker, richer dip.
Tip: Serve with sweet potato fries or fruit for a sweet snack.
Fennel Slaw Recipe
1 large fennel bulb
1 head savoy cabbage
2 medium carrots
Juice of ½ a lemon
½ cup sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Finely slice your vegetables using a mandolin, or the grater attachment on your food processor. In a large mixing bowl, combine the lemon juice and sour cream; stir to combine. Add the finely sliced vegetables and herbs; gently fold together. Season with salt and pepper.
Tip: Serve on top of a pulled pork sandwich, grilled steak sub or a hot dog.
Guest post by Meredith K. on behalf of Alexia. For more easy spring dip recipes along with frozen appetizers and veggie side dishes perfect for spring, visit www.alexiafoods.com.