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Make Way for Spring Flavors

Mixed Mushroom Soup

After a winter of feeling like every part of my body is permanently encased in wool I’m really looking forward to a change of season. But spring always seems to dawdle, and I know the warm breezes I’m waiting for are still weeks away.

It may be too soon to put the sweaters away, but it’s not too early to swaddle one’s palate in some of spring’s best flavors. Here are some of my favorite recipes highlighting the season’s unique characteristics.

Earthy

Soft, woodsy flavors and aromas are the hallmarks of spring’s earliest produce. Bring home an assortment of mushrooms and you’ll find almost endless ways to savor the season. Mixed Mushroom Soup is a celebration of great mushroom varieties and gets a fresh punch from a generous topping of herbs. You can pair mushrooms with the season’s first asparagus for Roasted Asparagus and Wild Mushrooms, a double spring treat.

Mellow

Try stepping away from the strong flavors of winter and explore some milder ingredients. I like to give onions and garlic a rest for a while and focus on shallots, perhaps the most elegant member of the allium family. This recipe for Green Beans with Tangy Shallot-Yogurt Sauce is light yet satisfying in all the ways spring dishes should be.

Green Beans with Tangy Shallot-Yogurt Sauce

Likewise, I like to give rich, meaty stocks a pass in favor of gentler alternatives. Soups based on miso are a natural, and Shiitake-Lemongrass Miso Soup is a tonic for the winter-weary, packed with colorful vegetables and enticing flavors.

Herbaceous

Dried herbs are often my choice for low, slow, cool-weather cooking, but leading into March and April I find myself craving the tingle of fresh, leafy herbs on just about everything. This Penne Primavera with Salmon is packed with dill, perhaps the herb I most associate with spring cooking.

Lamb is the classic meat of season, and also the meat whose flavor is most often described as herbaceous itself. Gather a group for this wonderfully warming Roast Leg of Lamb with Spring Onions and Mint. Or try these fun and delicious Lamb Sliders with Celery-Yogurt Sauce, a recipe that gets kudos for not only using chives, but also celery leaves — an underused year-round super garnish.

Bright and Sweet

The ideal desserts this time of year are light and fresh and pack a tang to rouse our taste buds. These lovely meringue Satsuma and Pomegranate Pavlovas are a favorite of mine for the way they use delicious bridge-season fruits.

Satsuma and Pomegranate Pavlovas

And the combination of dates, coconut, walnuts and lemon can’t be beat in these wildly popular Lemon Treats, a dessert you can make start to finish in about 15 minutes.

What are your favorite recipes for welcoming spring?