Easy Spring Dinners

Easy recipes to get the most out of spring’s freshest vegetables.

By Hilary Meyer

When I see patches of green finally return to the otherwise brown and dreary landscape, I know it’s early spring in Vermont. It’s a sign of rejuvenation and, to celebrate, I indulge in everything green. Many early spring vegetables are good sources of lutein and zeaxanthin, phytochemicals that accumulate in the eyes and help prevent age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in older people. Leafy greens are also rich in beta carotene, a potent antioxidant.

This bumper crop of quick recipes is a great way to get some spring “greens” into your diet. Hawaiian Ginger-Chicken Stew is packed with zesty mustard greens. Greek Orzo Stuffed Peppers combine baby spinach and feta cheese with tangy sun-dried tomatoes. Green leaf lettuce and crispy snow peas give crunch to sweet-and-salty Vietnamese Tofu-Noodle Lettuce Wraps. Fresh scallions and cilantro adorn the gorgeous Cashew Salmon with Apricot Couscous and asparagus turns up in Crab Salad Melts. With these delicious recipes I can kick off the spring season in fine green style.

MONDAY: Hawaiian Ginger-Chicken Stew—This chicken stew has a bold ginger-flavored broth and provides a whole serving of dark leafy greens in each bowl. We tried it with frozen chopped mustard greens (available in large supermarkets) and it was even quicker to prepare and just as delicious. Serve with brown rice.

TUESDAY: Cashew Salmon with Apricot Couscous—Yogurt sauce flavored with lemon, cumin and cilantro tops this Indian-inspired grilled salmon and apricot couscous. Try this quick, easy recipe for entertaining. Serve with steamed snap peas and a glass of gewürztraminer.

WEDNESDAY: Crab Salad Melts—This crab and asparagus melt is delicious for a light spring dinner or lunch. You can use any type of crabmeat—including more affordable options available in pouches or cans near other canned fish or in tubs in the seafood department. Serve with a tossed salad.

THURSDAY: Greek Orzo Stuffed Peppers—We steam brightly colored bell peppers in the microwave to save time and then stuff them with orzo, spinach and feta. This basic recipe will work with almost any filling—try substituting different types of cheese, herbs or beans. Serve with whole-wheat pita bread and cucumber salad.

FRIDAY: Vietnamese Tofu-Noodle Lettuce Wraps—Here we toss rice noodles with crunchy vegetables, fresh herbs, tofu and a light, sweet, tart and salty Vietnamese dressing flavored with fish sauce and wrap the mixture in lettuce leaves. For a vegetarian version, use reduced-sodium soy sauce or tamari in place of the fish sauce. Pass the mixture, lettuce leaves and sauce separately so everyone can make their own wraps.