Spring is a wonderful time to simplify- to throw open the windows, linger a bit longer outside (enjoying the sun), and go back to the basics of cooking. I think it's easy to get overwhelmed when it comes to recipes. I see some recipes on Pinterest and I can't help but think how long the ingredient lists must be.
While there is a time for that, I don't believe it is spring. This is the time of year to lightly cook some asparagus, top it with an egg, and call it a meal or pull radishes/green onions from the ground, rinse them off, and eat them raw by dipping them into a bit of salt (a favorite of grandfather's.) My spring motto: Light meals, simple flavors (and in this context- simple is not a bad word.)
This spinach salad is in my realm light meals, simple flavors. I have a certain penchant for roasted potatoes (especially when tossed with garlic). The garlic is definitely the flavor here while everything is plays a small accompanying roll (even the mustard dressing, while flavorful, is more ancillary than a main character.) I suggest the buttercream potatoes but baby red potatoes or fingerlings would work just as well.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve overhauled my technique for making hard-boiled eggs. I landed on a method that works for soft, jammy eggs or those tried and true hard-boiled eggs. My old method started the eggs in warm water and then watched them until the water boiled. Inevitably, I’d lose track and end up with grey eggs.
Now I use the method for the 7 minute egg and adjust the time as needed. Just a solid pot of boiling water. If I want a tender egg, it’s 10 minutes. If I want a full, hard-boiled egg: go for 12 minutes. This salad works well with any egg on the cooked-yolk spectrum.
Spinach has my heart in this salad but regular greens or massaged kale would work as well. Just use what you have on hand- the real winning combination is the egg and potato.
While I’m obviously all about the egg in this salad, you do have options. Drop the egg in lieu of your favorite tofu recipe. Or, my other favorite option is to cook up some of this smoky tempeh (which makes it feel a bit like a breakfast salad!)
This asparagus polenta can be ready in about the time it takes to cook the polenta. It's also perfect for the still slightly cooler spring evenings. Best of all, it’s highly adaptable for what you already might have on hand.
Polenta: your options
No matter the season, I’ll always be up for a good bowl of polenta. It’s such a creamy bed for almost any kind of vegetable. What I didn’t know, until my good friend Alanna showed me the way, is that polenta is amazing with burrata.
If you don’t want to go the polenta route, easily turn this bowl into a delicious risotto (using a recipe like this cracked spelt or this cracked farro dish). You could also speed up the meal and use leftover grains for a delightful grain bowl.
Vegetables for every season
Summer: Green Beans/Zucchini- during summer, once asparagus is out of season, you could easily make this dish with green beans or zucchini. Both do well over high heat and tossed with herbs/nuts.
Fall: Carrots/Beets- for fall, before I dive into the winter produce, I like to transition with carrots and beets. Try roasting the roots then tossing with the herb mixture.
Winter: Sweet Potatoes/Winter Squash- the most obvious for the winter time but they both work well with polenta and burrata. Similar to the heartier fall vegetables, try roasting instead of the pan roasting.
Dill can be a fickle herb that not everyone is in love with (as much as I am!) Swap out the dill out for parsley, rosemary, and/or chives.
Finally, when it comes to the nuts, I love the nuts that add a flavor boost. In place of the pistachios try pecans, walnuts, or hazelnuts. All work well with the big flavor of herbs and most vegetables I mentioned above.
Post sponsored by Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs. See below for more details.
Egg in a hole, the most straightforward recipe name
When it comes to breakfast, I’m a savory eggs and toast kind of person. Normally I do a simple fry with toast on the side but occasionally I crave a little more. Not only are eggs-in-holes still fairly easy, when you make them like I have, it’s a great way to add vegetables or greens.
Also, as a side note, I like to save the insides of the bread and later make those into breadcrumbs for another meal. I’ve already been through my obsession with breadcrumbs, so I’ll spare you. But if you’re interested, you can read all about it here.
Greens of all kinds
As mentioned above, these eggs-in-holes are a great way to eat greens for breakfast. While I chose kale for this recipe, chard, spinach, or collards would also work. I’ve also been known to make a simple version with no cooked greens then add them lightly dressed fresh arugula to the top before serving.
Beyond greens, you could choose to roast tomatoes, squash, sweet potatoes, or asparagus and layer on under the cheese. The variation possibilities are endless when it comes to eggs and toast.
We eat quite a few eggs in our house and I’m always thankful to partner with companies that take their responsibility seriously. Pete and Gerry's Organic Eggs partners with small family farmers across the country who are ingrained in their communities. The eggs are always fresh and I know I'm buying a quality, USDA Certified Organic and Certified Humane product. If you’re in need of more inspiration after this recipe, a few solid spring egg recipes include: Pesto asparagus with eggs, onion chard frittata, or Fried egg cauliflower bowl.
Cheese to your heart’s desire
As it mentions in the recipe, there is no limit on cheese here. I really just recommend you go with something that melts well. My favorite bites are those with a perfect blend of melty cheese, greens, bread, and eggs. A few of my favorites include manchego, gruyere, taleggio, or even mozzarella.
Serve it with
Finally, I usually like to make these kale eggs-in-holes for brunch which gives me a little leeway on sides. A nice salad could work but I’ve found they are lovely when paired with seasonal roasted vegetables like asparagus, carrots, squash, or even a nice hash.
Disclosure: This recipe was created in partnership with Pete and Gerry's Organic Eggs. All thoughts and opinions are my own. It's content like this that helps me keep this site running to provide the vegetarian recipes you see every week.
Beyond the fruits and vegetables at the market, the core recipes I make are cyclical. During the winter months I go heavy. Extra cheese, butter, and more pasta than I care to admit. Then, when spring comes around, I find myself overly craving fresh and loads of greens.
Why Spring Vegan Recipes?
I also find myself tending towards more vegan recipes. I love making vegetables the star and in vegan recipes, there’s nowhere to run except to vegetables. Below are some of my favorite spring vegan recipes to get you excited for cooking in the new season.
One beautiful thing about California springs: cool evenings. It may feel warm during the day but by the evening, we’re back into sweaters. For this reason, I still find myself gravitating towards a little bit of comfort I find in winter. These recipes are packed full of flavor and some of my favorite weeknight dinner.
Similar to the main dishes, I find the spring weather still allows for a bit of soup. But I definitely change it up. Gone are the sweet potatoes and squash. Instead there’s a lot of green and my favorite: carrots.
Finally, perfect for packing a lunch or a picnic: the hand-held vegan spring recipes. Spring rolls are top of mind because it’s so easy to pack them full of goodness. All these recipes will keep for a few hours which means I’ve even been known to haul them up a mountain.
I always feel like I’m never cooking with lentils enough. Sure, we make these lentil bites in some form every couple of weeks. However, for something so cheap and easy, I feel like they should be a one to two times a week meal. This lentil stew is flavorful and a perfect excuse for more lentil usage.
What about lentil types? I’m sure a few of you will wonder if you can use a different type of lentil. Truth is, you totally could. However, I really love how soft and almost non-existent the red lentils become in this stew. Plus, they keep the color a beautiful red. Neither issue is a deal-breaker for the recipe, just a couple things to be aware of if you do want to use green, black, or Le puy lentils.
Why do I cook them separate? Many recipes call for cooking lentils in tomato sauces but I always have mixed results with this. Sometimes the lentils take awhile to soften while other times it appears the lentils will never soften. While this could be age of the lentil, it's hard to tell before you jump into cooking. Instead of having comments fill up my inbox about non-softening lentils, I choose to cook them separate.
Harissa is one of my go-to additions to spice things up a bit and there are many different recipes and brands on the market. If you’re curious, NPR has a lovely article about the what and the where of harrissa. I have a mild-harissa that I use occasionally but more often than not, I look for small jars/tubs full of spicy flavor.
My main directive here: taste before you use. I’ve found harissa on every spice level and the last thing you want is to over-use and make something so spicy that it’s inedible. This is the harissa I’ve been using and I picked it up at my local Whole Foods.
I left feta off the top because I didn’t have the day I shot the recipe. However, it’s a lovely and most-welcome addition. Crumble a bit on top before serving.
When I posted about ways to preserve lemons, many people asked me how to use preserved lemons. This lentil stew is the perfect example. Instead of the lemon zest at the end, chopping up some preserved lemon is the perfect swap.
How to Serve it
The original recipe calls for topping a hearty bowl of brown rice. However, over the years, I’ve gone back and forth. Sometimes I use grains as the base but more often that not, I eat this stew as is with a nice bit of bread. I’ll often pair it with a light salad and say this is a solid weeknight dinner.
Finally, this stew is forgiving when it comes to the vegetables. The cauliflower is great but diced sweet potatoes, butternut squash, or even hearty greens would work well with, or as a replacement, for the cauliflower. Just watch cook-time. Some items might take a little longer, like the sweet potato.
When you live in a household that’s favorite meal is breakfast, creativity knows no bounds. This egg sandwich is the perfect breakfast treat and I’ve even been known to wrap it up and take it on the road.
Fried Egg Sandwich: the beginning
I love a good breakfast egg sandwich but anytime I’m out and about, my options are limited. This little breakfast treat is usually geared towards meat-based meals and so over the years, I’ve experimented with many different veg-heavy alternatives. Enter this avocado egg sandwich!
I’ve loaded this sandwich up with a hefty amount of vegetables, hummus, and a solid sauce to bring it all together. Not much is missing, making this my kind of breakfast.
One of the reasons I wanted to share this particular recipe: the kale sauce. I posted this omelette a few weeks back and this is a perfect example of having one sauce across a few different meals. This kale sauce is vibrant and the perfect way to add greens to this sandwich without having a pile of leafy greens.
I will say, the tarragon in the sauce isn’t for everyone. Feel free to use whatever kind of sauce you might like. A variation of pesto is always nice or experiment with other types of flavorful sauces.
When it comes to sandwiches, hummus is up there with mustard as an every-day kind of thing. I’d happily lather it on almost every sandwich I eat. It’s also a great way to experiment with different flavors. Make a harissa, beet, or herby hummus to use on sandwiches and grilled cheeses.
Obviously the egg is the issue here but you could easy drop the egg and have a delightful veg sandwich. I've also been playing with the idea of adding a tofu scramble to the mix!
Finally, the most important part: the vegetables. This avocado egg sandwich is perfect for any kind of seasonal vegetables. In the summer, use roasted tomatoes or grilled squash. In the spring, pile it high with fresh or sautéed greens.
I wish I had a sexier name for this dish but when you start combining things into a dish that really doesn’t have a name like ‘taco’ or ‘grain bowl’, a name with all the ingredients is the best I can do. However, it's delicious. We've eaten it as a side but I've also been known to call a dish like this lunch.
The Beets: Chioggia forever.
When spring produce enters into my life, I take it as a reminder that not everything requires roasting. Sure, roasted vegetables are amazing but sometimes other techniques are worthwhile. I feel like steaming gets a bad rap, most likely due to diet trends, but it’s a valuable tool in your cooking arsenal.
Take for example these beets. Chioggia beets are beautiful. Their color, though, doesn’t hold once cooking. If you roast these beautiful beets, the color fades pretty drastically (unless you roast them whole but I’m not always willing to wait the hour it takes.) Enter: steaming.
Steaming these beets takes 10 minutes and while the color still fades slightly, it’s there in all it’s beautiful pink glory. Best of all, steaming the beets leaves room to make crispy garlic in ghee: a real treat for all.
Garlic + Ghee: best friends.
I’m a big proponent that every dish should have a little crispiness to it. In this dish, the sunflower seeds are nice but my favorite crisp comes in the form of pan-fried garlic. The ghee crisps the garlic nicely all while adding that delicious ghee flavor.
If you want to keep this vegan, olive oil can get the job done as well. The flavor changes slightly but the garlic is still delicious (because it’s still garlic!)
Finally, the bean puree. I love piling vegetable high atop a creamy puree. There’s something so satisfying when you scoop everything together off the plate- it mixes into the perfect bite. I kept this bean puree simple and very spring forward with the help of dill. Of course, you could really use any herb. Try parsley, marjoram, and/or a bit of thyme. Also, if you don't have white beans go for chickpeas.
I gravitate towards the savory breakfast, even to the point of eating leftover dinner in place of waffles, pancakes, or sweet porridges. However, sometimes my sweet tooth gets the best of me. Luckily, I can make a mean bowl of breakfast porridge and amaranth is one of the ways to my sweet-breakfast heart.
I absolutely adore amaranth for both the grain and in floral arrangements. When growing, it’s colorful and definitely and eye-catching addition. Yet, the grain, in terms of cooking, doesn’t quite get the same love.
Amaranth takes a little know-how. It’s similar to quinoa in that it’s actually a pseudo-grain or better known as a seed. It does not, however, cook up like quinoa. Amaranth, if cooked like any other grain, becomes a bit gummy.
Amaranth has a higher level of amylopectin, a main component of starch. This component creates a slightly more gelatinous texture to the cooked grain; think sushi rice versus long-grain rice. The creamy feel of cooked amaranth lends itself well to porridges and polentas. There are ways to use amaranth in more traditional grain ways, it just takes an extra step.
I try and stick with only fruits and vegetables I can source locally but I occasionally love a good banana dish. It also helps that we almost always have bananas around thanks to a child who had a mild obsession with them for some time.
Of course, if you wanted to stick to something you could buy at the farmers market, try peaches, apples, or pears. I like all of these options for cooking in the butter/sugar mixture. You could also just load this amaranth porridge with fresh berries and call it good.
Making it vegan
This one is easy. I actually prefer this porridge with non-dairy milk such as almond or oat. Same goes for the cream on top. As for the butter, you could use coconut oil or my friend Emma recently introduced me to Miyoko’s vegan butter. It’s actually really good and a solid 1:1 for dairy butter.
This dish rings in spring in the best way possible. A creamy carrot-sunflower puree helps keep the risotto vegan while the fresh pea shoots bring the greens.
Making a creamy carrot risotto
While I love making a delicious, cheese-based risotto, there’s something magical about taking this classic dish and making it vegan. My first attempts were alright but as time goes on, I find a few more tricks to make a delicious dish without one ounce of cheese.
This might be a bit like cheating but it gets the job done. Traditional arborio rice releases starch, which is where some of the creaminess comes from. Whole grains don’t quite act the same. However, if you pulse the grain in a food processor or blender a few times, you get a bit of grain dust. This dust turns into the thickening agent in the vegan risotto.
The best part about this: it’s a formula you can use with many different grains. I’ve found this works well with spelt, einkorn, farro, and barley. I’ve also had success with using whole oat groats (although I find the texture to be a bit gummier than the others mentioned).
The Sunflower Cream
In the realm of alternative dairy choices, sunflower seeds are still relatively not used. Sure, you could use almond, cashew, coconut, soy, or oat but I really love the cheapness, ease of use, and flavor of the sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds puree smooth with relatively little soaking time.
Of course, you don’t have to feel obligated to use sunflower seeds. Cashew cream, almond cream, or even something like this millet cream could work (although it’s rare that I double down on two grains in one dish unless I’m making a pilaf).
Also, I’m a bit of a carrot lover and they cook tender in the broth. You could, however, use squash puree, sweet potato puree, or I’ve been know in the summer to use a homemade version of creamed corn.
I realize this recipe is more involved but it’s worth it. Once you get the risotto going, the topping comes together quickly. For the ultimate spring risotto, I love using the pea shoots. I feel like the shoots are everything wonderful about spring: fresh, tender, and vibrant.
Add to that the dill and hazelnuts, it’s a winning salad-like topping. You could also use sunflower seeds in the topping but I like the flavor and crunch of the hazelnuts. My second choices would be almonds slices.
Post sponsored by Bob's Red Mill. See below for more details.
For these types of salads, I would typically use cauliflower. However, I wanted to keep the color vibrant. The broccoli provides that and I love the texture of the roasted broccoli. Of course, you could always mix in cauliflower, romesco, or even roasted Brussels sprouts.
Dressing, a bit extra
When it comes to dressing, I usually keep them really simple: an oil and an acid. However, sometimes I like to boost it a bit with the help from creamy items, like tahini. I’ve also really been enjoying finding more ways to use Nutritional Yeast. The nutritional yeast adds that classic pungent cheese-like punch, helping really make this dressing flavorful.
Bob’s Red Mill Nutritional Yeast
I haven’t always been on the nutritional yeast wagon but as I start to use it more, I’ve gradually fallen in love. The nutty tang has definitely started to play more rolls in my kitchen from the easy, like popcorn, to the slightly more complicated, a stand-in cheese sauce. A bag of Bob’s Red Mill Nutritional Yeast is always in the cabinet so we can always have our savory, salty popcorn!
Couscous and other grains
I love using pearl couscous for a quick add into salads and grain bowls. It’s ready in about 10 minutes and it’s the best of both pasta and grains. You could, however, use whole grains in place of the couscous. Try using hearty farro, sorghum, or even quinoa.
Beyond the nutritional, try adding a bit of crumbled feta. The saltiness is a nice companion for the tahini and nutritional yeast.
broccoli salad - YouTube
Disclosure: This recipe was created in partnership with Bob's Red Mill. All thoughts and opinions are my own. It’s content like this that helps me keep this site running to provide the vegetarian recipes you see every week.