And just like that it’s April! Ben’s and my anniversary month, the first full month of spring, the month when everything’s in bloom (just ask my seasonal allergies – achoo!) and a great time to start eating FRESH! (Save for the Pizza Casserole recipe I’ll be sharing with you sometime in the next couple of weeks…dying!)
Anyway, I can’t tell you how how great it’s been to be welcomed into the grocery store by crates of asparagus, towers of broccoli, lots of lemons, and an abundance of strawberries lately. My God, the strawberries!! You know you’re in for a treat when you can smell the fresh produce you’re after before you can even see it. That is to say, we’ve been eating strawberries like they’re about to go extinct these past couple of weeks, which they basically will in a few short months. Give me spring strawberries or give me nothing!
In less dramatic news, let’s talk about this month’s eats. Today I’m sharing 20+ of my favorite recipes to make in April that highlight early spring produce. These recipes are fresh, gluten-free, and as always, easy and family-friendly. Now, living in the Midwest, not everything that’s in season right now is necessarily “local” but eating seasonally whenever possible is best for getting fresh food that’s been picked at its peak of ripeness, plus it’s incredibly economical buying produce that’s at the peak of its supply. It’s a win all around, friends, and I hope you enjoy a few of these fresh spring recipes this month!
Strawberry-Basil Chicken Salad with Fried Goat Cheese Balls
Forget boring iceberg and chopped carrots, Strawberry-Basil Chicken Salad with Fried Goat Cheese Balls is a salad that’ll make you feel like you’re dining at a cute sidewalk cafe complete with a sweet spring breeze. Fragrant strawberries, fresh basil, and crispy fried goat cheese balls are an unbelievable flavor combination, plus frying goat cheese balls at home is a cinch, and so rewarding. I’ll show you how!
Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto
Nothing says spring quite like asparagus, and its delicate flavor is highlighted in Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto. This is a great recipe to start with if you’re new to risotto making. Easy and elegant.
Sweet Chili Coconut-Lime Chicken with Coconut-Lime Cauliflower Rice
Cauliflower is grown and harvested all year long, and can tend to be thought of as a hearty vegetable to enjoy in the fall and season that shall not be named, but Sweet Chili Coconut-Lime Chicken with Coconut-Lime Cauliflower Rice proves that its versatile enough to be eaten in warmer months, too. Fresh and tropical tasting, this dish is a must try as you transition to light and springy meals this month.
Watermelon, Feta, Basil and Pistachio Salad with Reduced Balsamic Vinaigrette
Watermelon, Feta, Basil and Pistachio Salad with Reduced Balsamic Vinaigrette is a salad you eat with your eyes first! Juicy watermelon (which you can sub for strawberries) is paired with spicy arugula, which is especially delicious right now. The only thing I adore more than the sight of this dish, is its sweet, and savory flavors.
Lemon Pepper Chicken with Artichoke Salsa and Roasted Asparagus
If there’s one recipe on IGE that makes me think spring, it’s Lemon Pepper Chicken with Artichoke Salsa and Roasted Asparagus. The tanginess from the artichokes, feta cheese, capers, and lemon juice are a treat for the tastebuds after months of eating heavy comfort food.
Earth Bowl Salads
Raise your hand if you’re sitting on pins and needles waiting for a SweetGreen to open in your city? Sigh…sadly I think we’re pretty far down on the list, but luckily some of my favorite salads from the healthy lunch spot are easy to make at home, like their Earth Bowl Salads which are full of fresh and in-season ingredients like broccoli. I love the combination of roasted broccoli and creamy white cheddar, in particular!
Herb & Caper Crusted Salmon
Speaking of transitioning from heavier comfort foods – Herb & Caper Crusted Salmon is going to take you there. This simple recipe is extremely light. Roll salmon filets in your favorite spring herbs, drizzle with a little lemon juice, bake, and dinner’s ready in just 20 minutes.
Greek Cucumber & Arugula Salad
Spicy spring greens are pumped up with tangy olives, zesty red onion, cooling cucumber, and a bright Lemon-Oregano Vinaigrette in Greek Cucumber & Arugula Salad. This is a crowd-pleasing, healthy recipe to take to a spring picnic or potluck.
Gnocchi with Spinach, Mushrooms & Crispy Prosciutto
Spinach is a nutrient-packed vegetable that’s grown and harvested all year round, but is especially sweet in the spring. I can’t think of a better way to use it than in Gnocchi with Spinach, Mushrooms & Crispy Prosciutto. This recipe tastes INCREDIBLE, and is quick, and easy too.
Roasted Spring Vegetable Cobb Salad
Roasted Spring Vegetable Cobb Salad highlights spring vegetables like beets and radishes that you might look at and think to yourself “I have no idea how to use those!” This salad is filling and hearty yet livened up with a drizzle of homemade Honey-Herb Vinaigrette. So yum.
Cauliflower Fried Rice
I can’t tell you how many people have commented on this post/social media telling me they made my Cauliflower Fried Rice and their families had NO IDEA it was cauliflower instead of rice! If that’s not a healthy eating win than I don’t know what is.
Crispy Bacon, Kale and Shrimp with Lemon Butter Pan Sauce
I think by now you can sense a reoccurring theme – the scent and flavor of lemon is all spring to me and this dish is drizzled with the most mouthwatering lemon butter pan sauce that makes every ingredient pop. Crispy Bacon, Kale and Shrimp with Lemon Butter Pan Sauce is decadent yet light, making it perfect for spring.
Roasted Beet, Orange and Pomegranate Power Bowls
Even though I created this dish last fall, the ingredient list is all spring. Both beets and oranges are at their peak deliciousness at the moment, and combined they make a really tasty dish. Roasted Beet, Orange and Pomegranate Power Bowls are great for dinner or a power-packed lunch.
Strawberry Shortcake Smoothie
If Strawberry Shortcakes are your jam as much as they are mine, than you’re going to INHALE these Strawberry Shortcake Smoothies which taste just like the real thing, but are gluten and dairy free (and a lot easier on the ol’ thighs!) Lincoln loves these smoothies, and I love that they feature sweet spring strawberries which eliminates the need to add refined sugar.
Skinny Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli-Rice Casserole
It’s almost wrong to call this dish a “casserole” since you just toss a bunch of ingredients into a baking dish, add cheese, then broil until golden brown and bubbly, but what you can’t argue with is that Skinny Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli-Rice Casserole is packed with fresh, in-season broccoli florets. Healthier comfort food, FTW.
Spring food = Superfood Salad!! This recipe has remained one of the most popular since I created it in 2012, and for good reason. It’s fresh, colorful, light, springy, full of fabulous texture, and absolutely delicious.
Spinach, Avocado, & Sun Dried Tomato Home Fries Skillet
Brunch is getting some love from springy spinach and avocado in the form of Spinach, Avocado, & Sun Dried Tomato Home Fries Skillet. I freaking ADORE this hearty breakfast dish, which I first tried at a great brunch joint in Savannah. Sososososososososososososo awesome.
Shrimp & Wild Rice Skillet
Shrimp & Wild Rice Skillet is truly a kitchen staple supper and I make it at least twice a month when I don’t have a dinner game plan. It’s easy and I always have the ingredients on hand, including baby spinach. Which is, say it with me, in-season right now!
Avocado & Shortcut Beet Hummus Toast
If Avocado Toast has a semi-permanent spot in your breakfast rotation, I urge you to take it up a notch by adding shortcut beet hummus (aka roasted beets blended into store-bought hummus,) into the mix. Beets are really sweet right now and have incredible health benefits ranging from being anti-inflammatory, to boosting the immune system. Don’t be intimidated by beets!
Perfect Broccoli Cheese Soup
April is the first full month of spring, but as a Midwesterner I know that means jack squat in terms of being able to rely on warm weather. I was married in April and we had a blizzard two days before Ben and I said “I do”. That said, there are definitely more than a few days left in the month when I’ll want a comforting bowl of soup for dinner, and Perfect Broccoli Cheese Soup is what I’ll be turning to. This recipe, as many commenters have attested to, is truly PERFECT and full of yummy broccoli.
Loaded Strawberry Fields Salad
Start with a strawberry recipe, end with one too – that’s how much I am loving strawberries these days! The recipe for Loaded Strawberry Fields Salad is actually a knock off of a fast food chain’s version, which I saw in a commercial last year. Luckily no trip to the drive thru is necessary, this salad is a breeze to make and enjoy at home!