Tulips stand tall, farmers’ markets feel more crowded (with produce and people), the sun shines a bit brighter and, oh, your allergies are here: Spring is in full swing. To celebrate, we’ve rounded up some of our lightest, brightest dinners of the season — alongside a few hearty staples, in case it’s still a bit cool where you stay. So grab that asparagus, those peas and that spinach, and get cooking with any of these New York Times Cooking recipes below.
In this supremely simple sheet-pan dinner from Yasmin Fahr, soy-and-mustard-brushed salmon and seasonal asparagus broil together in no more than 10 minutes for a fresh and flavorful weeknight meal. Think of the generous showering of herbs on top less as a garnish and more as its own salad.
In the way you might purge your dresser of old clothes come May, so, too, must the refrigerator crisper receive a spring cleaning. When you get around to that, keep this highly customizable recipe from Kay Chun in mind. She employs spring staples (Swiss chard, peas), the dregs of the produce drawer (truly, whatever you’ve got) and that hunk of just-this-side-of-stale bread on the counter for her take on ribollita, the classic Italian soup.
Recipe: Spring Cleaning Ribollita
Tart, vibrant rhubarb stalks add tang and a bit of visual drama to this herb- and bean-laden stew from Naz Deravian. The beans stand in for the more traditional meat, making for a showstopping vegetarian interpretation of a savory Iranian stew. And no, that’s not a typo in the ingredients list: Five large bunches of herbs cook down to create the deeply flavorful, emerald base.
For those uncannily warm spring days where the thermostat creeps toward 80 degrees, Hetty McKinnon has fashioned this crisp salad. The tiny bit of cooking required — blanching asparagus and peas — will take no more than two minutes, so you can get to making the spicy cilantro yogurt, which adds a luxurious creaminess to every bite.
Here, Melissa Clark has created a vegetarian main course with an overflowing farmers’ market tote bag in mind. Asparagus and peas are sautéed in an aromatic concoction of shallots, garlic and vermouth before they’re tucked into a plush polenta bed. And if you went a little wild at the produce stand, don’t hesitate to add other in-season vegetables to the mix, like snap peas, radishes or leafy spinach.
Recipe: Polenta With Asparagus, Peas and Mint
Frozen or canned artichoke quarters lend a welcome bit of sharpness to this quintessentially Roman pasta dish. Anna Francese Gass’s recipe, which comes together in 30 minutes, tasks the vegetables with soaking up the saltiness of the guanciale and spreading those flavors throughout the dish.
Recipe: Artichoke Carbonara
In this seven-ingredient, 25-minute noodle dish from Ali Slagle, the sweetness of barely cooked asparagus, snow peas and snap peas perfectly balances the brininess of capers. Tinned fish — mackerel or sardines, pick your favorite! — round out the dish with savoriness and heft.
Plump, thick asparagus is no better than the pencil-thin kind. And there are recipes that will make those skinny stalks shine! Look no further than this stir-fry from Kay Chun, in which thin asparagus segments cook in record time to get dinner on the table in just 20 minutes.
Recipe: Black Pepper Stir-Fried Tofu and Asparagus
This cool salad of shredded chicken and sliced snap peas is ideal picnic food, perfect for lugging to the park on those gorgeous 72-degree afternoons. Hana Asbrink tosses it all in a tangy sesame mayo dressing, which you should wisely double or triple for future lunches and meals al fresco.
Recipe: Sesame Snap Pea-Chicken Salad
In this springy mezze from Yotam Ottolenghi, a lemony, garlicky yogurt coats white beans before they’re topped with herby peas, feta and an easy homemade dukkah you’ll want to keep handy for jazzing up other dishes. While this meal can be enjoyed anytime, anywhere, it tastes especially good on a patio, in the waning evening sun, with a spritz and some grilled bread.
Recipe: Yogurty Butter Beans With Pistachio Dukkah
This stovetop braise was created for those who hover over the spinach-artichoke dip at a party. Sarah DiGregorio has transformed the appetizer into something more substantial, and while pairing spinach and artichokes shouts of springtime, this rich, creamy dish can be enjoyed year-round, thanks to frozen and jarred vegetables.