By Samantha
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Would you believe me if I told you we’re halfway through spring? With the late start we had, and then what seemed like summer arriving early, we have had only a few true days of spring this season. You know the kind, when the temperature is absolutely perfect, and the leave are that really pretty shade of light green, and the cherry blossoms are just coming to their full bloom! That’s where we are right in this moment in time, and I can’t imagine a more perfect feeling.

Since I am trying to be a more ‘half glass full’ sort of person, I am not going to upset you by telling you that we only have 43 days left of spring. Instead, I invite you to join me in celebrating the fact that there ARE 43 days left of spring… and hopefully the really amazing kind that we are enjoying today!

The local farms had a few days late start on harvesting due to the cold snap we had at the beginning of the season. But local lettuce, asparagus, radishes, swiss chard & kale, and even strawberries are going to be coming out in full force these next few weeks. Pictured above is my farm haul from Blue Moon Acres (Pennington, NJ), where they are just starting to harvest spring mix! And since some of these fruits and vegetables are only around for a few weeks at their prime, we, as seasonal eaters, must be excellent planners.

I personally curate recipe ideas all year long for spring on a variety of platforms. From Pinterest, Instagram, my favorite seasonal recipe blogs, and even restaurant menus! This process is a lot harder than it may seem, especially because many recipes you see online don’t take into consideration what’s at your local farmers market! When you are committed to eating seasonably, you have to be flexible with the recipes you find online. Sometimes I will make a list of things I need and only come home with half of them, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Some of my best dishes have come from what feels like a mixed-bag of produce!

I also like to not plan at all… and let the farm market be my guide. Sure, sometimes I feel like I’m on an episode of Chopped, but when everything is so fresh, it’s all good. But for those who do like to plan, and maybe (just maybe) spend hours looking at food like I do, here are a few tips for keeping your meal prep organized.

Seasonal Meal Planning Tips

  • Create 4 separate boards or saved albums – don’t try to group spring and summer in together, or fall and winter in together. Or else you’ll be seeing zucchini and heirloom tomato recipes even though they’re months out from being available!
  • Only save what you REALLY think you’ll make, or you’ll just end up cluttering up your feeds. Sometimes I see something I saved and it’s just not a realistic dish for me to make. Or it looked beautiful, but when it actually comes down to it, I’m not sure it’s really what I want to eat. Know your limits. If you think that you’ll want to make it SOMEDAY, then add it to another board of ‘adventurous’ or experimental cooking.
  • Keep a food log of the dishes you’ve made and really loved! I wish I was better at doing this. I try to keep a note on my phone of my favorite home-cooked meals, because then you can go back to those recipes year after year. If you’re cooking 4-5 days a week, unless you have an iron-clad memory, you’re not going to remember it the following year!
  • Talk to your farmer and find out what they’re growing this year. Sometimes the crops change year over year, and if you know what’s growing then you will know what recipes to save. Don’t go saving a bunch of ramp recipes when you have no idea where to get ramps from!
  • Keep a seasonality and availability chart handy so when you’re planning you can have an idea of what will be at the farmers markets that weekend. And follow your favorite farmers on Instagram to see what’s available!

What’s on my spring meal bucket list, you ask? After sleuthing around this weekend, I’ve added these dishes to my list. Sometimes I have an idea in my head of what I want to make based on the ingredients I have, and then I find a recipe online to match. I don’t always follow a recipe, but I like to see what other people did with similar ingredients in case I see some unique technique or additional ingredient that I didn’t think of. So I will be linking to recipes similar to what I plan on making at home, but feel free to go off the books! I’m no baker… I love cooking because it is both an art and science, so have fun with it!

Blue Moon Acres Pea Tendrils with Homemade Ravioli

Peas & Pea Leaves

Homemade Ricotta Ravioli in a Lemon Butter Sauce with Pea Tendrils

Lamb koftas with Middle Eastern spiced radish pea leaf grain salad

Papardelle with chicken ragu, fennel, and peas 

Asparagus

Savory Dutch Baby with ricotta, asparagus and peas

Caramelized Onion, Asparagus, and Cheddar Puff Pastry Tart

Grilled Fish With Asparagus, Leeks and Pancetta

Greens

Pizza with Garlic Cream and Nettles

Kale Sauce Pasta

“Cromlet” with Wilted Greens and Fennel Olive Salad

About the Author

Grazin' in New Jersey since 1988

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