It’s that time of year again—that stretch when the calendar says it’s spring, but there’s still a chill in the air. Half the country is breaking out their flip-flops, while the other half is still bundled up in warm coats.
It’s the time of year when we’re hankering to bring our barbecues out of storage—just on the cusp of grilling season.
We like to transition into spring by mixing some indoor cooking methods with light, refreshing springtime flavors. Here are some of our favorites.
Our Main Squeeze: Citrus
Lemon is a great flavor that evokes thoughts of lazy summer days—think cool lemonade or light and fluffy lemon meringue pie. But it’s not just for sweet treats—lemon pairs wonderfully with fresh poultry as well.
Try filling the cavity of a roasting chicken with quartered fresh lemons and crushed garlic. Brush the chicken with oil or butter and roast at 350°F until the internal temperature registers 180°F. (Insert an instant-read thermometer in the thigh away from bone.) Or try our recipe for Lemon-Thyme Grilled Breasts—outdoors if the weather is nice, or indoors on a grill pan if not.
Another lovely citrus flavor to cook with is orange. A natural pairing is orange with duck. Try our recipe for Roast Duck with Orange. Orange also pairs well with chicken: try our Braised Chicken with Raisins, which uses orange juice in the braising liquid. Orange also makes a nice flavor platform for a sweet glaze that would work well on whole roasted or grill-roasted chicken, poussin, or game hen. If the weather is nice enough to grill, combine orange and grapefruit in this recipe for a light yet delicious Grilled Chicken-Citrus Salad with Arugula.
Orange also pairs well with pork: Try our recipe for Marinated Pork with White Wine, Garlic, and Oranges from Lobel’s Meat Bible; Ham Steak with Orange; or simply roast a rack roast or tenderloin and serve with a pot of classic Cumberland sauce. This fruity sauce usually features flavors of orange, red currants, wine, and ginger—definitely a refreshing flavor profile for spring. The sauce can be served on its own alongside pork or can be mixed with pan juices for delicious sauces and gravies.
Bushels of Flavor
Another exquisite pairing is succulent pork with fruit. Pork can take on a decidedly autumnal flavor when paired with crisp fall apples or spices such as cinnamon and clove. Or it can be light and refreshing for spring when paired with springtime or summery orchard fruits, such as peaches, plums, cherries, and apricots.
Of course, a classic springtime holiday meal is the traditional Easter ham studded with pineapple slices and cherries.
Peaches and apricots are wonderful in a chunky fruit chutney as a complement to grilled or roasted pork. We love Rosebud Farms Apple, Peach & Apricot Chutney. These fruits also make interesting and welcome additions to a homemade salsa, which pairs well with grilled or pan-roasted pork chops—or atop any type of taco, burrito, or fajitas.
A Tropical Twist
For an exotic way to add a splash of sunshine to your meal, try adding tropical flavor notes.
Mango is a great vacation-inspired flavor to incorporate. Marinate poultry or pork in Wild Thymes Tropical Mango Lime Marinade or try our recipe for Chicken-Mango Shish Kabobs.
Nothing says tropical quite like pineapple. Of course, we already mentioned the ubiquitous ham with pineapple, but this fruit pairs well with other meats too. Pineapple is incredible when grilled, which is incorporated in our recipes for Teriyaki Steak with Grilled Pineapple and Fiery Asian-Style Pork Loin Roast with Grilled Pineapple.
Trying to evoke visions of sunsets on palm tree-dotted beaches? Try cooking with coconut! Coconut and shrimp are a natural combination. Chicken also pairs well with coconut. Try simple grilled chicken or shrimp on top of salad greens topped with freshly toasted coconut. You’ll be transported! Coconut milk is also the basis of delicious curries and cold or hot soups.
Fresh and Green
Asparagus seems to embody all that is spring: it’s fresh, green, delicate like new flower buds, and when cooked properly, it is both crisp and tender. It’s a wonderful vegetable for this transition between seasons because it can be steamed or roasted inside or grilled outside.
It’s a perfect springtime accompaniment on its own, topped with a delicious sauce or compound butter.
For extra deliciousness, wrap it in your favorite ham, bacon, or prosciutto, such as in our recipe for Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus Bundles.
Try Google for a great recipe for asparagus soup with lobster, morels, and chervil. We found several recipes online, and it sounds springy and decadent to us!
Asparagus is also a perfect addition to quiche for a lovely outdoor springtime brunch.
Are you inspired yet? Ready for all your springtime favorites? What dishes do you look forward to once the cold weather breaks? Have you broken out your grill yet, or did you never put it away? What flavor pairings just scream “springtime!” to you?