8 Cozy Meals for a Rainy Spring Day

The arrival of spring means finally being able to pack away your winter coat and enjoying the warmer weather — until a glance out the window reveals raindrops and dark clouds. All that moisture is definitely good for growing season, but it’s a bummer when that dampness leaves you stuck inside and feeling kind of chilly. Instead of moping, use that rainy day as an excuse to make something fantastic in your kitchen. These dishes will warm you up without making you feel like there’s still snow on the ground, because that was no fun at all.

1. Risi e Bisi

Risi e Bisi

Risi e bisi | iStock.com

Meet risotto’s fresher, lighter friend. This risi e bisi from Food & Wine is the perfect way to get acquainted with this beloved Venetian recipe. Studded with loads of green peas and pancetta, it’s incredibly flavorful and comforting without being too heavy.

Start out by sweating some onion, then adding the pancetta and parsley. Stir in a ton of peas, some rice, and vegetable stock, then cook until the rice is tender. This warming dish gets even more luxurious by stirring in a little bit of Parmesan and butter at the end. It’s so good that no foul weather will dampen your mood. And it’s so easy, you can have it on the table tonight.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 ounces pancetta, coarsely chopped (½ cup)
  • ¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2½ quarts light chicken stock
  • 2 (10-ounce) packages frozen peas
  • 1 pound arborio or vialone nano rice
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions: In a medium enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the onion and cook over low heat until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the pancetta and 2 tablespoons of the parsley and cook for 5 minutes. Add the stock, peas, and rice and bring to a simmer over moderately high heat.

Cover and cook over moderately low heat until the rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Stir in the 1 cup of Parmesan, the butter, and the remaining 2 tablespoons of parsley and season with salt and pepper. Ladle the rice and peas into shallow bowls and serve at once, passing more Parmesan at the table.

2. Spring Onion Soup

putting onion in a pan

Cooking onion | iStock.com

Soup is usually saved for winter, filled with potatoes and hearty pieces of meat. Give it a nod during the warmer seasons with this spring onion soup from Martha Stewart Living. It’s creamy, slightly sweet, and ridiculously easy. Start by sweating onions in olive oil, add chicken stock and water, simmer, puree, and you’ve got a creamy treat that’s ready for sipping.

This soup can be made with any yellow onion, but it’s particularly nice this time of year when spring onions are available. They look sort of like overgrown scallions, with a larger bulb. They’re milder and sweeter, so grab them by the armful when you see them pop up.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 pounds spring onions (or yellow onions), trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 2½ teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1¼ cups homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 8 pieces crisp flatbread, for serving

Directions: Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent but not brown, about 15 minutes. Stir in salt, stock, and water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.

Remove from heat and let cool for 20 minutes. Working in batches, puree in a blender, starting on low speed and gradually increasing to high, blending until soup is smooth.

Divide soup among 4 bowls, drizzle with oil and serve with flatbread on the side.

3. Tender-Crisp Spring Braise

cutting chicken

Cutting chicken | iStock.com

When cloudy skies leave you feeling a bit chilled, warm up with this tender-crisp spring braise from Better Homes and Gardens. Brown some potatoes in a skillet, then add in vegetables. Remove everything from the pan and then use it to cook some sliced chicken. Add stock and then stir all of the vegetables back in. A final flourish of licorice-like tarragon completes this braise.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 8 ounces new potatoes, cut into ½-inch thick slices
  • 4 small carrots, peeled, trimmed, and diagonally cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 cups mushrooms, halved (12 ounces)
  • 1 large onion, cut into thin wedges
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1½-inch pieces
  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into strips
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¾ cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon snipped fresh tarragon

Directions: In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Evenly layer potatoes and carrots in skillet. Cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes, until potatoes are golden, turning once. Add mushrooms and onion. Cook 5 to 6 minutes, until vegetables are crisp-tender, stirring often. Add garlic and asparagus; cook 3 minutes. Transfer vegetables to bowl; set aside.

In same skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Sprinkle chicken with half the salt and pepper. Cook chicken in hot oil about 3 minutes, until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Add broth; bring to boiling. Reduce heat. Simmer, covered, about 3 minutes, or until no pink remains. Increase heat to medium-high. Stir in cooked vegetables; heat through. Stir in tarragon and remaining salt and pepper. Serve.

4. Greens and Artichokes Stew

artichokes

Artichokes | iStock.com

When less-than-perfect weather keeps you cooped up, spend the afternoon in the kitchen getting to know artichokes. You’ve probably had the frozen quarters or marinated ones from a jar, but these thorny vegetables definitely take a little bit of love to prep at home. Once they’re cleaned, this greens and artichokes stew from Saveur is just about the best supper to make.

Cook shallots and the artichokes in a crock pot until they start to get brown, and then add some spices and poppy seeds. Add water and simmer before finishing off with tons of fresh greens. With the exotic touch of sumac, this stew tastes sort of like a trip to the Middle East right in your own kitchen.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 large, full-size artichoke hearts with stems quartered
  • 8 shallots, halved
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons poppy seeds
  • 1½ teaspoons ground sumac, plus more for garnish (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon hot paprika
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces curly endive, roots trimmed
  • 8 ounces Swiss chard, stemmed and thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1 lemon, quartered

Directions: Heat ¼ cup oil in a 6-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add artichokes and shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until light brown, about 10 minutes. Season with salt, add poppy seeds, sumac, paprika, and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add 6 cups water and bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until artichokes and shallots are tender, about 15 minutes. Add greens and cook, stirring once, until wilted, about 2 minutes.

Season stew with more salt, to taste. Using a slotted spoon, transfer greens to 4 shallow bowls. Top greens with shallots and artichoke hearts. Ladle ½ cup broth over vegetables; serve remaining broth on the side. Drizzle with remaining oil and squeeze a lemon wedge over each. Garnish with more sumac, if you like.

5. Roasted Asparagus Grilled Cheese

asparagus

Asparagus | iStock.com

While there’s nothing wrong with a classic grilled cheese and tomato soup, it feels a lot like winter. Introduce the gooey sandwich to fresh produce with this roasted asparagus grilled cheese from Apron Strings. Broil a bunch of asparagus until the edges get brown and a little bit crispy, then tuck some of those tender spears into a sandwich filled with a cheesy spread. Cook the buttered sandwiches in a skillet until they’re golden on the outside and melted on the inside.

While this recipe calls for ricotta, Parmesan, and Monterey Jack, this is definitely a good opportunity to play around with different flavors. Keep the ricotta to help act as a binder, but try adding any of your other favorites. We’re particularly fond of pecorino and fontina.

Ingredients:

  • 24 asparagus stalks
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup finely grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • ¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons ricotta cheese
  • Dash of lemon juice
  • Dash of cayenne pepper sauce
  • A little bit of minced parsley
  • 8 bread slices
  • 3 tablespoons softened butter

Directions: Toss asparagus with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil for just a few minutes, until lightly browned. Mix cheeses, lemon juice, cayenne pepper sauce, and parsley. Lightly butter the bread on one side of each slice. On the other side, spread a thick layer of the cheese mixture on all slices.

Heat a large skillet to medium heat. Place a few slices of bread with butter side down in the skillet. Top with a single layer of asparagus. Place another slice of bread on top, cheese side down. Place another pan on top of the sandwiches, to press them down slightly.

Cook until golden brown. Flip and cook on other side until golden brown. Serve immediately.

6. Spring Pasta with Morels, Ramps, and Peas

pasta with peas and cheese

Spring pasta | iStock.com

The arrival of warm, wet weather also means the arrival of fresh produce. While any of that greenery is certainly welcome, the brown, wrinkly morels might be the most exciting of all. Turn them into a seriously luxurious dinner with Midwest Living’s spring pasta with morels, ramps, and peas. Cook the mushrooms and ramps in a bit of butter until they’ve just softened, then make a rich cream sauce spiked with salty ham and some fresh thyme. Add the peas, pasta, and mushroom mixture to the skillet and toss with a little bit of Parmesan cheese to really take this dish over the top.

Like most mushrooms, morels grow low to the ground. Unlike most of those other fungi, though, they’re full of crannies that can trap lots of excess dirt and even a bug or two. Make sure to clean them well before cooking. Nobody wants a mouthful of grit.

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces fresh morel mushrooms, cleaned and coarsely chopped
  • 4 to 6 ounces ramps, cleaned and cut into ½-inch pieces (or 1 medium leek, cleaned and thinly sliced, plus 1 clove garlic, minced)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ¼ cup diced cooked ham
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • ¾ cup whipping cream
  • ½ cup reduced-sodium chicken stock or broth
  • 1¼ cups frozen peas, thawed
  • 1½ teaspoons snipped fresh thyme
  • Salt and cracked black pepper
  • 10 ounces dried linguine pasta
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Shaved Parmesan cheese, optional

Directions: In a very large skillet over medium-high heat, cook and stir morels and ramps in hot butter for 4 to 5 minutes, until just tender. With a slotted spoon, remove the mixture to a bowl.

Add ham to skillet, cook, and stir for 3 to 4 minutes, until just starting to brown. Remove skillet from heat. Add white wine to skillet. Return to heat and cook for 1 minute. Add cream and stock. Cook and stir occasionally for 6 to 8 minutes, until sauce coats the back of a wooden spoon. Return morels to skillet with peas and thyme. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until peas are just tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of salted water, cook linguine according to package directions; drain. Return to pot over low heat with sauce and parsley. Toss until well-combined. Transfer to a serving bowl. Serve with shaved Parmesan, if you like.

7. Braised Lamb Shanks with Spring Vegetables and Spring Gremolata

lamb shanks

Braised lamb shanks | iStock.com

Few meats are as strongly associated with a season as lamb is to spring. Chops are definitely the best bet for quick cooking, but some days call for something a little bit more satisfying. Bon Appétit’s braised lamb shanks with spring vegetables and spring gremolata via Epicurious is a great choice for something hearty, but not heavy. Brown the shanks and then slowly simmer them on the stove in a flavorful broth with wine and herbs. Fresh veggies and a sprinkle of bright gremolata make this a dish to remember.

Entertaining? Try making the braise a day ahead. That way dinner will take hardly any cooking, so you can enjoy your guests instead of sweating in the kitchen.

Ingredients:

Lamb

  • 6 (1-to 1¼-pound) lamb shanks
  • All-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups finely chopped onions (about 2 medium)
  • 2 cups finely chopped peeled carrots
  • 1¼ cups finely chopped celery
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon (generous) tomato paste
  • 3 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 1½ cups Sauvignon Blanc, or other dry white wine
  • 6 fresh Italian parsley sprigs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves

Gremolata

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoon (packed) finely grated lemon peel
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh green garlic or 1 garlic clove, minced

Vegetables

  • 1½ pound unpeeled 1½- to 1¾-inch baby red potatoes or baby Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 8 ounces slender baby carrots, trimmed, peeled
  • 8 ounces sugar snap peas, strings removed
  • 2 tablespoons (¼ stick) butter
  • 3 ounces fresh pea tendrils

Directions: Sprinkle lamb shanks generously with salt and pepper; dust with four. Heat oil in a heavy, large, deep pot over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, if necessary, add lamb to pot and cook until browned on all sides, turning often, about 10 minutes per batch. Transfer lamb to large bowl. Add onions, carrots, and celery to same pot; sauté until vegetables begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and tomato paste; stir 1 minutes. Stir in broth, wine, parsley, thyme, and bay leaves. Return lamb to pot; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until lamb is very tender and begins to fall off bones, turning occasionally, about 3 hours.

Using tongs, transfer lamb to platter. Discard bay leaves and parsley sprigs. Spoon off fat from surface of pan juices, discard. Using immersion blender, puree pan juices until almost smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Return lamb shakes to pan juices. Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled.

Mix all gremolata ingredients in a small bowl.

Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Add potatoes; cook until tender, about 18 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer potatoes to medium bowl. Add carrots to same pot; cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer carrots to bowl with potatoes. Add sugar snap peas to same pot; cook 1 minute. Drain. Add to bowl with potatoes and carrots.

Bring lamb and pan juices to simmer over medium heat until heated through.

Meanwhile, melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add all vegetables; sauté about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer lamb and pan juices to large platter or bowl. Surround with vegetables; scatter pea tendrils over vegetables. Sprinkle lamb with gremolata and serve.

8. Polenta with Spring Vegetable Ragout

polenta

Polenta | iStock.com

Polenta with hearty meat sauce makes great comfort food all winter long, but there’s no reason to miss out on the deliciousness of that creamy porridge the rest of the year. Introduce it to a different season by making The Kitchn’s polenta with spring vegetable ragout. Start with the polenta since it takes some time to get tender. While the cornmeal is bubbling away, simmer up an easy vegetable stew to serve over the top. Just don’t forget to stir that cornmeal from time to time!

Ingredients:

Polenta

  • 4 cups light vegetable broth or water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup polenta or yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Ragout

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 bunch green onions, trimmed and cut on the diagonal into 2-inch pieces
  • 8 baby carrots (about 4 ounces), trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
  • 6 radishes (about 4 ounces), trimmed and cut into quarters
  • ½ cup light vegetable broth or water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces asparagus, trimmed and cut on the diagonal into 2- to 3-inch pieces
  • 8 ounces shelled peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 tablespoon each coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley, chives and tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Additional olive oil and herbs, for garnish

Directions: To make the polenta, bring the vegetable broth or water to a boil in a 2- to 3-quart pot over moderate heat. Add the salt and slowly add the polenta while whisking. Reduce heat to low and continue whisking until the polenta is thickened. Cover the pot and continue cooking. Every 10 minutes, stir the polenta vigorously, scraping the sides of the pan. Continue cooking for 30 to 40 minutes, until polenta reaches desired thickness and creaminess. Stir in the olive oil. Serve within 15 minutes.

Make the ragout while the polenta is cooking. Heat the olive oil in a large saucpan over moderate heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring for about a minute, until fragrant. Add the green onions, carrots, radishes, vegetable broth or water, and salt. Cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes. Add the asparagus and peas, cover, and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in herbs and lemon zest, and season to taste.

To serve, spoon the polenta into a shallow serving bowl or individual bowls. Make a well in the center of the polenta and spoon the ragout on top. Drizzle a little olive oil on top and garnish with herbs.

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