Scallops (or fish) in White Wine | Saffron Risotto (or rice) | Steamed Broccoli

Now that the relentless summer heat is gone, you might find fresh, local broccoli at your farmers market. Fresh broccoli is surprisingly fragile when compared to its supermarket relatives, so cook it soon after purchasing – and not for nearly as long as you need cook the conventional grocery kind. Round it out with simple scallops and risotto (or just rice, or bread), and you’re all set.

Love to Cook: Scallops don’t need much fuss; this simple recipe from Food 52 proves it. Although traditionally paired with heartier meat, saffron risotto works just as well with scallops or other seafood. (Risotto might actually be the best comfort food of all time, with cheese grits coming in a close second.) Round it out with simple steamed broccoli – if you get it from the farmers market, it won’t need anything but a touch of salt.

Weeknight Reality: If scallops are too expensive for a weeknight dinner, a firm white fish would be a good substitute. Here’s a recipe for that – one that has more flavors in it, so pairing with plain jasmine rice or even rice noodles would work.

Need a Miracle: Look for pre-marinated fish, or scallops – all you have to do it cook, which will take minutes. Pair with quick-cooking rice noodles and flash-steamed broccoli (bagged florets will work, if you’re not up for hunting down fresh broccoli), dinner can be ready in a flash.


fall carrots

Toasted Polenta with Wild Mushroom Sauté | Simple Green Salad | Carrot Cake

Fresh shiitake mushrooms and bunches of carrots in your CSA bag? There’s a dinner for that. Sauté those mushrooms in some butter with a bit of garlic and fresh parsley (add that at the end), spoon over some toasted polenta, pair up with a green salad, and you’ll have plenty of room in your tummy for carrot cake made from scratch. Or from a mix. Or store-bought. These are your options, today and always. But get the lettuce from the farm; fresh lettuce is in top form right now, and it’s worth the extra dollar or two.

Love to Cook: So, you’ll really have to love to cook to make this entire dinner from scratch. But it will be worth it, if you have the time and inclination.The cake will take the most time and the polenta next, as both require chilling. The best carrot cake recipe I’ve ever made comes from the Flour cookbook; the recipe is shared here on Oh Crumb!, with full credits and acknowledgements. Here’s a polenta recipe that’s pretty straightforward. While the cake and polenta chill,  prep the salad – simple lemon juice, olive oil and salt dressing would be best. When the polenta is ready for toasting (or pan frying, or grilling), make the mushrooms using this simple recipe from NYT Cooking.

Weeknight Reality: If there is a Fresh Market near you, try their store-branded carrot cake mix, which is quicker than making from scratch and really pretty good. There are polenta mixes that cook quickly but will still have to firm up in the refrigerator for you to toast/grill/pan-fry. Another option would be slice and bake polenta, available in most groceries in the fresh produce section. The mushroom recipe here is the same as above – it’s quick, easy and delicious. Here’s a simple lemon vinaigrette recipe for your salad.

Need a Miracle: Slice-and-bake polenta and bakery cake are going to be your options here. Dress them up by making the mushrooms (really, it just takes about 15 minutes) and making a salad with fresh, local lettuce, even if you use prepared dressing.


green onions

If you need a little re-orienting after the three-day weekend (I do): today is Wednesday, not Tuesday, not Monday. Middle of the week, already. Strange week. Maybe an ordinary-ish dinner will help: Beef Satay with Grilled Spring Onions | Rice | Seasonal Fruit Salad

Love to Cook: try this beef satay with this recipe for grilled onions | plain jasmine rice | seasonal fruits from the farmers market

Weeknight Reality: try this recipe for beef satay (takes about 15 minutes) and roast the onions in the oven | plain jasmine rice | seasonal fruits

Need a Miracle: order take-out satay and focus on the onions and fruit – get the freshest produce you can find, from a farm stand or local market, and let that be the star of you dinner


Where summer produce is robust, spring goods are tender, softer in texture and flavor. For dinner tonight, how about foraging (probably at a farmers market) for fresh spring lettuce or other baby greens?  You might find some young root vegetables to go with, and you’ll have the perfect spring salad.


Food Ideas

  • Love to Cook: Lamb chops, sugar snap peas and spring greens
  • Weeknight Reality: Pan-fried chicken tenders over spring green salad
  • Need a Miracle: Spinach wraps with spring mix, goat cheese and smoked turkey (from the deli)

Recipe Links

Parting Thought

She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
“Winter is dead.

A.A. Milne, via goodreads