Springtime Menus

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Dear Kristin,

As you know, I’ve been in a bit of a rut lately. I’m trying different strategies to get out of it–waking up earlier in the morning to have more time to read, writing letters, walking twice a day. Now that spring is springing, I’m thinking about changing up the dinner menu. Of course, I want to lighten it up after months of stews and roasts and the usual cold weather fare, but I also want to explore some new flavors.

I’ve always loved mideastern food, especially Persian dishes, but other than hummus, I’ve never tried to make it. When I come across recipes for dishes like Persian Herb-Stuffed Frittata with Walnuts and Rose Petals (Kuku Sabzi), I think maybe it’s time. In general I’d like to do more vegetarian cooking. We only eat pasta occasionally these days, so I’ve been looking around for main course rice dishes, and this Spicy Cauliflower and Halloumi Rice dish looks pretty yummy (I had to look up halloumi–it’s sort of like goat cheese, as far as I can tell).

There are some recipes I already have on file that I’d like to bring back into rotation now that the weather is warming up, including shrimp tacos and an asparagus tart made with puff pastry. Clifton grills rosemary chicken two or three times a month in the spring and summer, a dish everyone (even Will!) loves. It’s great with potato salad, roasted potatoes, and/or roasted asparagus. If I’m feeling all devil-may-care about carbs (which often happens if Clifton opens a bottle of Prosecco before he lights up the grill), I’ll even make everyone’s favorite biscuits from an ancient Cook’s Illustrated recipe. They bake up a mile high, fluffy on the inside and crispy on top. Yum! 

You know what’s really going to bring me out of my funk? Strawberries. We’ve got three more weeks until the strawberry season starts, and then I’ll be over at Wallers’ Farm once a week while they last. I love a Spinach Strawberry salad, don’t you?

I’m curious what changes for you produce-wise when spring rolls around. I mean, you get great fruits and vegetables in southern California all year long, right? What gets especially good this time of year? What are you looking forward to eating now that we’re at long last saying goodbye to winter? 


Dear Frances,

I’m so glad that you brought up this topic! The weather has finally turned from rainy to sunny here in Southern California, even if the temperatures stay stubbornly in the 50s and 60s (don’t judge–I’m a native Southern Californian!). Yes, we do have good fruits and veggies year-round–but the out-of-season ones are from Mexico and Chile. I try to avoid produce that has come from so far away. Besides, out-of-season tomatoes and strawberries just aren’t the same!

During the fall and winter, I try to work in a weekly soup night, and when the weather warms up that turns into main dish salad night. I am more than ready to make that switch! Tonight we are having taco salad and I am ready to get more adventurous. I’ve got a whole Pinterest board full of Main Dish Salads that I need to dust off. I want to incorporate more Mediterranean dishes, and I might just start with this Mediterranean Chopped Salad. This Caprese Chickpea Salad is on my list, and also this Grilled Ginger-Sesame Chicken Chopped Salad. Wow, you’ve really got me excited about spring menus!

I’m in complete agreement with you that spring means strawberries. Strawberries are big business where I live, with local berry stands popping up on corners everywhere. Some years they start being available as early as February! I’m looking forward to visiting my favorite local strawberry stand this week and also picking up some local honey. I’m remembering all the years that I canned strawberry jam. We have a U-Pick farm nearby and would get all the kids together to pick enough strawberries to keep us in jam for a good part of the year. We just don’t eat enough PB&Js to warrant that anymore. However, our local Strawberry Festival is finally back and I’m looking forward to the strawberry shortcake and maybe even a strawberry margarita! Your Spinach Strawberry salad recipe looks amazing! I’ve already printed it out and may make it on Sunday for our first solo Easter.

But the food that really says spring to me is asparagus! Asparagus just may be my favorite vegetable. It’s so delicious and delicate and easy-peasy to prepare. Trim the ends off, toss with salt, pepper, and olive oil and roast at 425 for about 12 minutes. Then toss with some balsamic vinegar. If I’m feeling fancy, I might brown a little butter to drizzle over it as well. Roasting is my favorite way to prepare it, but I look forward to including asparagus in omelets and pasta dishes. I know I can buy it at Costco year-round, but it is so much better in the spring!

Dear Readers–we always love to hear from you! What foods are you looking forward to this spring?


  • Vicki Holloway

    Spring menus sound amazing in April , we usually jump right to summer grilling about Memorial day! I do love a burger or chicken on the grill. Strawberries ripen here in June. I look forward to getting local honey at the farmers market soon!!

  • Marsha H

    Although I look forward to fresh vegetables and grilling, I have to admit I cook less during the summer because my husband and I ride motorcycle a lot on weekends and week night evenings if the sun is shining , the wind is mild and the road is calling. We eat out a lot in the summer months and unfortunately its usually not very healthy.
    When we do stay home to eat I like to grill veggies and burgers-nothing fancy. My husband like to grill fresh sweet corn-its delicious. We tend to do more salads with grilled chicken. Last weekend was our first 3 day stretch of warm sunny weather. I feel like a switch has been flipped in my mood because it was fun to get out to take walks without being bundled up. I picked up sticks around the farm and tonight I’m going to rake out a few flower beds. Its amazing to be out and about now that the snow has finally melted.

  • Tracie

    It’s unseasonably hot in Minnesota this week, so changing from stew to cold food happened abruptly. Thankfully I had canned chicken on hand for chicken salad. Next I stirred up some chia seed pudding, and I can hardly wait for strawberries in June. You each mentioned my favorites: shrimp tacos and taco salad. My little local grocery store doesn’t carry much fresh produce but I’ll take what I can get.

    I splurged on a type of thermos to keep ice cream cold for up to four hours. There isn’t dairy-free ice cream available locally, so I hope to bring home a pint of strawberry ice cream (from a “big city”) to enjoy. That is my favorite taste of summer!

  • Julie

    it’s cold and rainy on my slice of east coast of Australia! y’all are thinking strawberries and asparagus and i’m getting the IP out to make some almost-olive-garden zuppa tuscana so i can slurp it hot from a big mug under a blankie while i’m reading. no quilts to snuggle under in case i drip some, though.

    my family had one of those old fashioned ice cream crankers, where you had to put rock salt around the wooden bucket and crank for what felt like hours. we kids would sit on the back step on a muggy minnesota night and crank and crank and crank in turns. Mostly vanilla, but sometimes the chook-poo tea’d strawberries from mom’s garden.

    we’re passing the summer back to you northerners, from here deep deep deep in the south. take care of it!

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