Springing forward into lighter meals
The calendar says it's spring, but the weather forecast tells us differently.
Crocuses have started to pop up through the brown leaves, and we've had some bright sunny days that seduce us into short sleeves. Yet there are still frosty mornings and gray, breezy afternoons that cause us to reach for a favorite hoodie. We're in that awkward phase where we want to start shopping for swimsuits, but still need a cozy sweater for walking the dog.
Our menus are in that in-between stage, too. We want something warming for dinner, yet, with summer approaching, we don't need rich creamy sauces or meaty stews. We need to find the cuisine equivalent of a light cotton cardigan -- that go-to piece that takes off the chill without over-cloaking.
When you're craving a bowl of pasta, skip the Bolognese and opt for something like Jesa Henneberry's Lemon Parsley Spaghetti Squash with Shaved Bottarga. Using fresh herbs goes a long way in lightening up meals for warmer weather, says Henneberry, a nationally recognized natural foods chef based in New York. The dish also features lemon zest, another ingredient that brightens spring menus.
Instead of turning on the oven for braises and roasts, brush the cobwebs off the grill, Henneberry suggests.
Even soups and casseroles, traditionally cold-weather fare, can take on a lighter form for spring.
In "Mr. and Mrs. Sunday's Dinners," Lorraine Wallace, wife of Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, gives tuna casserole a warm-weather makeover. She updates the classic by replacing the high-fat and salt-laden condensed soup, and she suggests reducing the amount of noodles in favor of more vegetables, like broccoli.
Adding extra greens, or swapping spring peas and fava beans for canned beans, is an easy fix for soup.
Put some of these recipes in your spring rotation and you'll be ready with a satisfying dinner no matter what tomorrow's weather forecast brings.