Food

10 Quick Spring Dinners

10 Quick Spring Dinners

It’s the first week of spring, which can mean only one thing…

…or, well maybe five or six things: asparagus, peas, mint, artichokes, mushrooms, greens that taste like greens, the small, sweet signs of hope and promise at the dinner table and beyond. Here are a few ways I plan on wielding their considerable powers over the next few weeks.

Arugula Salad with Shredded Chicken and Mint (Above). Using two forks, shred a store-bought rotisserie chicken and place into a large bowl. Toss with chopped sugar snap peas, a handful or two of arugula (you want the arugula to be an ingredient, not a dominating base), chopped fresh mint (crucial!), finely chopped radishes, a bunch of minced scallions, salt and some meaningful grinds of black pepper. Toss with a glug or two of olive oil and a few splashes of soy sauce and rice wine vinegar.

Risotto with Mushrooms, Leeks, Peas, Egg. Cook mushrooms (morels if you can find them) in olive oil in a skillet set over medium-high heat. Cook until all their liquid has been released, about 10 minutes; remove and set aside. Meanwhile, in a separate deep skillet, set over medium heat, heat a little butter and olive oil. Add chopped leeks (one leek should be fine; you could also use an onion or shallot), salt, pepper. Add 1 cup arborio rice and toss until every grain glistens. Turn heat up a little, and slowly add about a half cup of vegetable or chicken broth at a time, stirring every few minutes as the rice absorbs the liquid. Once the liquid has been absorbed, continue adding broth until 4 cups total has been absorbed. (This should take about 30 minutes.) Turn heat to medium-low, add shelled peas and mushrooms, stirring until the vegetables are warmed through, about two minutes. Top each serving with a 7-minute (or fried or poached) egg.

Asparagus Pizza. Heat oven to 450°F. Press and stretch a 16-ounce store-bought pizza dough on a baking sheet brushed with olive oil until it reaches the edges of the pan. (You want the crust to be thin.) Top with 1/2 cup grated cheese such as Parmesan or mozzarella. Toss trimmed and chopped asparagus and chopped red onions. Add vegetable mixture to the pizza dough, then bake for 10-12 minutes, until dough is crispy and golden. Optional serving: Dollops of ricotta, mint and more Parm.

Ravioli with Lemony Peas. Prepare your favorite store-bought cheese ravioli (if you live near an Italian specialty store, now is the time to hit that), according to package directions. Drain, reserving about a quarter cup of pasta water, and immediately (gently) toss with a drizzle of olive oil in the strainer. Place the pot back on the stovetop and turn heat to medium-low. Add a few tablespoons of butter, a handful of peas and toss in the ravioli. Add grated Parm, the zest from half a large lemon, and a small drizzle of pasta water, tossing (again gently) to help the cheese distribute. Optional: Serve with fresh mint. Note: Artichokes would be wonderful in this, too.

10 Quick Spring Dinners

Tuna Niçoise-ish Salad with Asparagus. Replace the green beans in this Five-Ingredient Meal with cooked asparagus. (Simmer trimmed stalks for four minutes, then immediately plunge in an ice bath.)

Roast Salmon with Minty-Pea Mash. Preheat oven to 425°F. Brush a 1 1/2 pound salmon filet with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes until the top is golden and the thickest part of the fish feels firm-tender to the touch. While it roasts, sauté shelled peas in butter with a few tablespoons chopped onion, plus salt and pepper. When warmed through, about 3-4 minutes, remove to a bowl, add a handful of mint, a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, and smash with a fork. Serve alongside salmon. (Alternately: Try this pea-mash alongside simply seared scallops, too.)

Strawberry Salad with Feta and Beans. The combo may sound strange, but it’s a favorite in our house, and, if you use canned beans, it’s strictly an assembly job. Toss greens (spinach, arugula, butter lettuce, or any combination of them) with sliced strawberries, crumbled feta, chopped mint, drained canned white beans (such as fava, gigante or navy), and a white wine-based vinaigrette. It goes without saying that fresh fava beans would take this from good to great, but, as anyone who’s ever shelled and prepped a fava bean knows, the meal would no longer qualify as fast.

Deviled Eggs with Garlic Bread. Preheat oven to 400°F, then prep your eggs: Place 10 eggs in a large pot, cover with water, bring to a boil, then immediately remove from heat and cover; let sit exactly 10 minutes, then run under cool water. Make your garlic bread while they cool: Slice a baguette in half lengthwise and spread butter on both sides. Sprinkle the baguette with a little garlic powder and salt, wrap in foil and bake in your preheated oven for 10-12 minutes. Prepare your deviled eggs (this is a classic) and serve with pickled anything (bread and butter pickles, capers, pickled onions, etc), sliced garlic bread and a simple salad.

10 Quick Spring Dinners

Brothy Clams with Spring Greens. The hardest thing about this dinner is securing fresh clams, but once you’ve got them, you’re on the way to about as light and simple a meal as it gets: In a Dutch oven set over medium heat, sauté some shallots, garlic, red pepper flakes and freshly ground pepper in olive oil. (No salt!) When shallots are soft, add clams (think about 6 to 8 per person) and a third cup or so of dry white wine. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. When the clams steam open, about five to ten minutes, add a few handfuls of chopped tomatoes, some fresh herbs (parsley or basil) and simmer another two or three minutes. Discard any clams that haven’t opened. Divide clams evenly among bowls, ladling the delicious broth on top. Serve with sliced, crusty bread for sopping and a butter lettuce salad that’s been tossed with herbs, lemon, olive oil, and white wine vinaigrette.

Orecchiette with Butter, Spinach and Crispy Shallots. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and place pot back on stove over medium-low heat. Add butter, sliced shallots (from two large shallots), and olive oil and cook until shallots are crispy and golden. Add a large mound of spinach and cook until wilted. Toss with drained pasta and a little more oil. Serve with Parm.

What do you plan to cook this spring?

P.S. Spring salad with chicken and lentils and nine cooking steps you should feel free to skip.

(Tuna salad photo by Yossy Arefi. Other photos by Jenny Rosenstrach.)

  1. Toby says...

    I made that first recipe last night and the combo of mint and soy sauce was… not great. Is this perhaps an error? Maybe cilantro? It seems odd to me to combine those two ingredients.

  2. Kate says...

    “…meaningful grinds of black pepper…” 😂 Magnificent, truly. From here on out, I will never refer to it any other way…..

  3. Jess M says...

    I had everything for that salad but the rotisserie chicken so I picked one up at the store today and this is hands down my new favorite spring salad! Even my toddler ate all his radishes!

  4. Kate Doyle says...

    Drooling and wanting to get to a farmer’s market stat!

  5. celeste says...

    Your best round up yet! Will definitely be making some this weekend.

  6. MB says...

    One of our favorite weeknight meals is salmon with harissa lentils. Cook the salmon however you like, and in a frying pan cook a diced onion til it softens, then add a pack of ready-cooked puy lentils and frozen peas, cook for a few mins, then at the end stir in a heaped teaspoon of harissa paste. Serve with the salmon on top. This meal always makes me feel so virtuous!

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      That sounds amazing!

    • Laine says...

      That sounds so good! I shall try.

  7. Alana says...

    I just had dinner and I want all of these meals. This looks so good. Can’t wait to make them all!!

  8. Anjali says...

    A long time ago, I was searching for recipes with leftover rice that were not some variation of fried rice. What I found was a recipe on a random teen website, but credited to you, Jenny: enter the crispy rice omelette (linked below). I believe it comes from one of your cookbooks.

    I have made so many variations of this omelette- and crispy, green spring vegetables are the best addition. I usually have small amounts of leftover rice, so I bulk the rice up with: peas or chopped up snap or snow peas and scallions, or thinly shaven asparagus and shallots, the list goes on- anything that caramelizes well in a cast-iron or heavy pan. Paired with a lightly dressed green salad or savory chutney of any sort + Vinho Verde- yum.

    The dish is finger licking good every.single.time. Thank you, Jenny.

    Recipe: https://yourteenmag.com/stuff-we-love/recipes/jenny-rosenstrach-crispy-rice-omelet

  9. Abigail says...

    I love shelling and peeling fava beans! I know it takes forever, but it soothes me. I love the process of unwrapping those delicious alien-looking morsels. My friend calls them the comfiest bean because they’re all wrapped up and then swaddled in their fuzzy, pillowy shell!

    • Katie says...

      I just made that, too! Delicious! We all (including my 3-year old) loved it!

  10. jeannie says...

    I especially love the idea of the leek, pea and mushroom risotto and the salad nicoise with asparagus! Yum. ( I recently found tiny nicoise olives at a local market and they are absolutely delicious.)

  11. Alex says...

    I am making those clams tomorrow. I can’t wait.

  12. Kate says...

    For the Brothy Clams with Spring Greens, is just the 1/3 cup of wine (with the herbs, veggies, & clams) all the liquid that makes the broth? Thank you!

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      Yes that should be enough if you are making two dozen-ish clams. Maybe go up to a half cup if you like it more brothy? (Can’t really go wrong.) The clams release liquid, too. Delicious briny liquid!

  13. Whitney says...

    Yes to all of these! Perfect inspiration. Garlic bread and deviled eggs are perfection. Will through that into the mix. I love Spring Salad Days. We always have leftover sourdough for fresh croutons and I love cooking up a quick pot of lentils for protein. All 3 of my kids (and husband) devour them. My favorite lunch is a can of good tuna, scoop of leftover lentils, diced red onion, olive oil and sherry vinegar. It’s so delicious, hearty and I can mix it up really quick. Thanks for some great inspiration!

  14. Gina says...

    These all look amazing (and easy!). Totally bookmarking this! We have been in a slump cooking dinner and I feel inspired reading this!

  15. Lauren E. says...

    Anything in the air fryer! I’ve started to sound like an air fryer salesman, but I am a total convert. I’ve made chicken breasts, NY strip steaks, lobster tails, french fries… you name it. And everything takes 10 minutes. I’m obsessed.

  16. Amy says...

    The next meals I’m making are crab cakes and a side of vegetables roasted with jerk seasoning, and then my springtime favorite (and the veggies are already emerging here), pasta primavera. If you invest in quality olive oil, I honestly think there’s nothing more scrumptious.

  17. Nicole says...

    I love these easy ‘recipes’ where you don’t need to measure ingredients or follow a long list of steps. Thank you!!!

  18. Andrea says...

    I’m going to be adding “meaningful grinds of black pepper” for the rest of my life!! I love the way you write about food.

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      I need to give the great food stylist and cookbook author Victoria Granof credit for that one. Like you, once I read it (last week, in her cookbook about chickpeas) I couldn’t think of any other way to say it. :)

  19. Lynn says...

    I need to express my total relief that the first word after the jump wasn’t “ramps!”… Thank you.

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      That made me laugh — I do love them, but they are good for, like 3 minutes a year. (During those three minutes, I toss them with olive oil, broil them, then chop up and throw on risotto or flatbread with hummus. When I’m my best self it’s pesto, but that’s ambitious!)

    • Lynn says...

      @Jenny – Yes! You remind me I really need to broil more…

  20. morgan says...

    These all sound sooooo good. Always look forward to your posts here and in your newsletter :) I have an abundance of mint in my fridge right now, so I’m glad to have some fresh ideas for how to use it up!

  21. Emily says...

    I would eat all of these, but I think there’s something in each one my husband wouldn’t! Argh….

    • Lauren E. says...

      SAME. Or he’d ask, “What else is there?”

    • Sarz says...

      Relatable! 🤣 “Husband substitutions” is such an art.

  22. katie says...

    No spring vegetables fresh from a farm or garden where I am… yet. I CANNOT wait. There are a few fruits and vegetables I’ll only eat homegrown, as in never purchased at a super market. Asparagus is at the top of the list. Corn on cob, tomatoes and strawberries are a close second. Eggplant is third. I was hoping for asparagus for Easter, it’s not meant to happen this year.

    I fault my dad for this. I grew up in small town Midwest and the items above were only eaten while in season, but not just in season, homegrown from our garden or a friend’s garden.

    • Therese says...

      Same here! I crave all of these things but it‘s early days for them here kn Switzerland. We had snow last week…

    • Charlotte says...

      Oooh I just saved that one Kathleen. Looks like a winner! Thanks!

    • Marie says...

      Yes! We just call it “Charliebird” around our house. So, so good!

  23. Emily says...

    I am such a picky eater, there’s something I don’t like it nearly every meal above. Mint, radishes, mushrooms, peas, asparagus, seafood, feta, deviled eggs – some can be omitted, but most play a big part in these meals. One day I’ll learn how to eat like an adult…

    • Sid says...

      Emily – I have a lot of allergies/sensitivities so I’ve had to get good at tweaking recipes. If there’s something I don’t like or can’t eat, I try to figure out why it’s in the recipe (flavour, texture, binding agent, etc.) and then replace it with something that works for me. For example, sub mint for fresh basil; sub radishes for another crunchy raw veggie like shredded carrots; sub feta for a different cheese; sub seafood for chicken, etc.

  24. Alexis says...

    I love this series. You did something similar in the fall and I found it so helpful! As a new mom, i’m looking for easy quick recipes I can manage but also celebrate the seasons. The featured salad looks incredible, i’m going to cook chicken thighs in a crockpot and use them instead of a store bought rotisserie. Thanks for the inspiration and happy spring!

  25. Mom of Boys says...

    As I flipped through this post, I couldn’t help but think of the idiom “salad days.” Spring is my favorite time for making meals. Summer for eating fruit. Fall for baked goods. Winter for soup and heavy bread. Wishing you and your family, wonderful salad days. Thanks Jenny.

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      I love that. Thanks, M.O.B. :)

  26. Becka Freed says...

    deviled eggs and garlic bread dinner, sounds so naughty but yummmmm

    arugula salad with shredded chicken on the menu for tomorrow, thank you!

  27. denise says...

    Good lord those all look so delicious! If you’re so inclined, I’d love a post on grab & go breakfasts sometime. I seem to really struggle with easy fast breakfast ideas and the rut I’m stuck in is a deep one.

    • Court says...

      Denise: Smoothies! Look up Kelly Leveque’s smoothies. They’re diverse and keep you full. I have drank a smoothie for the past five years every day!

    • Cecily says...

      I resisted overnight oats for so long (maybe annoyed by the copious blog posts singing their praises??), but two weeks ago I tried them and they are easy, fast, delicious, and filling! Took me 2 minutes to assemble last night, grabbed on my way out the door and heated it up at work, kept me full until lunch!
      I did 1/2 cup rolled oats, 1 cup milk, 1 tablespoon chia seeds, 1/4 cup raisins, drizzle of honey, dash of cinnamon.
      5 minutes is about the limit that my nighttime self is willing to spend to help out my morning self, so this has been perfect for me :)

    • Lex says...

      Yes please! I’m always stuck when it comes to finding quick breakfast ideas especially hot options on cold days.

    • Katie says...

      I too have a rut that I am stuck in which is a deep one, but rather than trying to change, I’ve decided to embrace the breakfast of choice – PB&J on a whole wheat toasted English muffin. It’s just what I like. It’s fast, no mess, clean up, keeps me full until lunch, why change something that works?

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      a GREAT idea

    • cilla says...

      +1
      No idea why, but I can’t eat sweet things for breakfast (granola, cereals, oats, PB&J, croissants, fruit, …). So, for the last 6 months my breakfast every morning is bread + humus + a slice of cheese + tomato (before that I was eating quarck+plain yoghurt, which was probably healthier and with more protein). i am too lazy for eggs. but would love love love to hear new options.

    • Louisa says...

      Crepes! I whip up a double recipe on Mondays. Keeps in fridge most of the week (stir to combine before cooking). Top with: yogurt + jam; PBJ; nutella; cheese; banana slices + cinnamon sugar. It’s seriously quick and so versatile and feels fancy :)

      Other go to’s: – scrambled eggs/english muffin sandwich; King Arthur’s pancake mix: https://www.kingarthurbaking.com/recipes/homemade-whole-grain-pancake-mix-recipe; granola + yogurt (partial to the recipe in Run Fast Eat Slow -https://dailyburn.com/life/recipes/ginger-molasses-granola-recipe/).

    • Agnes says...

      When I’m traveling or at home in a rush, I do a boiled egg (prepared and in the fridge to grab or TJ’s pre-peeled in a bag, which I did in my last road trip in the US) and a banana for breakfast. Super cheap, super fast, filling and healthy :)

    • Beth says...

      Hi Denise, have you tried Heidi Swanson’s baked oatmeal? After baking I cut into portions and freeze. Then I just pop a slice into the microwave top with a little bit of milk (any kind) and maple syrup. Easily adaptable and so yummy. Not exactly grab and go, but it’s quick! http://orangette.net/2013/03/we-have-a-rhythm/

    • Ashley says...

      I make a batch of mini frittatas in muffin cups, freeze them in a bag, and pop one in the microwave when I want something fast.

  28. Maryn says...

    All of these sound so good right now. Thanks for the much needed food daydreaming distraction!