Endless Effortless Meals for Spring: April 3-28

As if I didn’t do enough baking in March … Home-baked goods are the best. Baking can get addictive.

Composite of Focaccia Bread, Pancakes and Waffles

An assortment of baked goods (clockwise from top left). Whole wheat focaccia with lots of toppings. Roasted cabbage, beets, garlic, leeks, kalamata olives, red pepper flakes and blue cheese. Recipe adapted from Fresh Pantry. Whole wheat waffles with rhubarb-sour cherry compote (cooked in pear canning syrup). Also topped with boiled apple cider, bee pollen and coconut. Gluten-free pancakes made with ancient grains flour blend. Topped with blackberry applesauce, walnuts, maple syrup and poppy seeds. Slices of roasted vegetable and olive focaccia for lunch. Leftover pancakes with pear butter and walnuts. Leftover waffles with blackberry-rhubarb sauce.

Remember my enthusiasm about my new sage biscuit mix? Well I made biscuits again—this time with less butter. Still as delicious. I also tried my new pancake and waffle mix with equal success.

Composite of Baked Goods Made With Mixes

Homemade treats made with baking mixes from Bluebird Grain Farms. Sage biscuits brushed with buttermilk and ready to bake (left). Leftover sage biscuits served with frambled eggs and coffee for breakfast (top right). Emmer waffles topped with sautéed apple slices and chopped Meyer lemon (bottom right).

Quick to throw together for a weekend brunch with fridge and freezer staples (plus milk):

Composite of Apple Pancake With Blackberries

Apple pancake baked with frozen blackberries (left). Served with powdered sugar and lemon slices (right).

Not that I don’t love my freezer, but it’s spring! The first fresh produce is always such a delight. This was also my first week of the fish share from Bestcatch Seattle.

Food Haul from CSF, Spring Night Market and Local Shops

Local food haul from the Pike/Pine corridor of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. Wild Chinook (King) salmon from Bestcatch, spring asparagus from Tonnemakers, broccoli rabe, radishes and garlic from Chophouse Row Night Market, blue cheese from Kurt Farm Shop and chocolate ice cream from Cupcake Royale.

And here’s a quick and easy dinner I put together with my food haul and some pantry staples:

I love this recipe because it feels special but is also versatile and simple. The original recipe is from Cooking with Les Dames d’Escoffier. It’s best suited to summer because it uses fresh basil. For spring, I used sun-dried tomatoes, green garlic, and celery leaf-fennel frond puree. With the briny grape leaves and capers, I like the bite of fresh radishes. With salmon, I also like the wholesome flavor of Potlatch Pilaf, which is a blend of emmer and wild rice.

Not everyone gets as excited about leftover fish as I do (my husband included). Great! More for me. The key to eating fish the next day is to avoid heating it. (If packing to the office, your co-workers will appreciate this advice.) For the ultimate in simplicity, I chopped up the salmon and mixed it with the grains.

Emmer and Wild Rice Salad With Grape-Leaf Wrapped Salmon

Fried Potlatch pilaf (emmer and wild rice) with leftover grape-leaf wrapped salmon. Served with a fresh spring radish.

I used the radish for its crisp, clean flavor, which balances the richness of the fish. But radishes also look beautiful on the plate. If you’re not so sure about radishes, spring is a great time to try some from the farmers market. The root is mild this early in the year and the greens are still tender. Later in summer, I’m more conservative with the roots and I cook the greens. But right now, I eat the whole thing.

Composite of Dishes with Fresh Radish and Greens

Garnish the plate with fresh radishes in spring for a pop of color. Fried egg topped with horseradish-vinegar beans plus sauerkraut from Woodring Orchards (top left). Roasted beet, blue cheese and walnut salad (top right). Roasted asparagus with boiled eggs, soy sauce and sesame seeds (bottom left). Frittata made with leftover salmon and grits (bottom right).

Fun fact: You can eat the bottom part of the asparagus stalk. It takes a little practice to peel off enough of the white part so they aren’t fibrous. It also helps to start with thinner spears. Asparagus is an expensive vegetable, even during its springtime peak. This is a delicious way to stretch it for another meal.

Grits With Blue Cheese and Roasted Asparagus Stalks

White corn grits topped with blue cheese. Served with roasted asparagus stalks (i.e. the bottom part you throw away or compost).

And speaking of frugal

Wild Rice Blend With Spinach Crowns, Roasted Asparagus Bottoms and Sauerkraut

Whole grain rice blend served with kitchen scraps: spinach crowns and asparagus bottoms. Dressed up with pink sauerkraut from the farmers market and a glass of white wine.

Busy weeks call for easy snacks. It’s always worth adding to your snack repertoire. These snacks are tastier and more satisfying than the processed food routine.

Composite of Healthy Homemade Snacks

Simple healthy snack ideas (clockwise from top left). Oatmeal and fig-walnut toasts with almond butter, pear butter, cocoa nibs and raw honey. Fresh mozzarella and slow-roasted tomato toast with balsamic vinegar. Hard-boiled egg and smoked salmon jerky from Loki Fish. Fresh radish and cheese scrap toast (made here with mozzarella and blue cheeses). Leftover toasted whole wheat waffle with honey. Dried banana chips and cacao beans.

Don’t forget about the convenience of hot cereal, the simplicity of pasta, or that bread in the freezer.

Composite of Hot Cereal, Pasta and Focaccia

Cracked farro porridge cooked with frozen blackberries. Topped with yogurt, lingonberries & cocoa nibs (left). Penne pasta tossed with roasted spring vegetables, bacon, and fresh mozzarella. The vegetables were broccoli rabe and green garlic cooked with red pepper flakes and fennel seeds. Pasta finished Parmigiano-Reggiano (middle). Leftover roast vegetable, olive and blue cheese focaccia. Toasted and topped with a poached egg for breakfast (right).

One to add to your weeknights for ease and versatility: feta tart. I subbed out all the refined flour using whole wheat with no problem. I also added chopped Meyer lemon and smoked paprika with the feta. Top with vegetables or add a salad to make a well-rounded meal (something we didn’t worry about here).

Easy Feta Tart

Effortless cooking in 30 minutes? Feta tart with a glass of wine.

And even if you do eat out, you can still be creative with the leftovers.

Composite of Injera Eggs and Injera Stew

Meals inspired by leftover injera from Cafe Ibex. Collard green and lentil stew with injera and bacon (left). Stew used fenugreek, coriander, nigella seeds, cardamom, red chiles, ginger, red onions and vinegar. Migas-inspired injera scrambled eggs seasoned with baharat and paprika (right). Better with bacon from Skagit River Ranch.

Always remember: Even when you’re busy, it’s worth making time for a good meal. And sometimes that meal includes a drink. Hey, whatever it takes to get those taxes done.

Salad and taxes

Tax time requires farm fresh meals. Roasted beet, blue cheese and walnut salad served with fresh radishes.

At least it’s followed up by birthdays … not mine. But still an excuse for yummy treats. (Not effortless but special occasions deserve special effort—and fortunately, fantastic results.)

Composite of Lemon Pudding Cake and Pina Colada Tart

Mmm, leftover birthday desserts. Lemon and almond cake for Mom and pina colada ice cream pie for Dad. Cake recipe from Vintage Cakes and pie recipe from The Pie and Pastry Bible. The cake recipe was spectacularly good as written. (I’d still recommend decorating with Meyer lemon slices though.) While each component of the pie was delicious, the whole thing was far better the next day after setting up for 24 hours. (Full disclosure: I made the ice cream “healthy” by swapping the quantities of whole milk and heavy cream).


If you’d like more information about any of these April meals, leave me a comment.

Read more about my “Week in Review” posts.

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