Take advantage of the tastiest spring ingredients with these make-ahead side dishes.
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Shaved Rainbow Carrot Salad With Pomegranates and Pistachios
Though it may look complicated, no fancy gadgets are needed to create these gorgeous multicolored carrot ribbons. In fact, shaving carrots is simple: after you peel the top layer of skin off the carrot, keep peeling the fresh strands into a bowl. The vinaigrette brings the dish together, and the pomegranate molasses in the dressing complements the bright, juicy pomegranate seeds in the salad. A handful of salted pistachios keeps the salad from tasting too sweet. Pomegranate molasses is worth seeking out (it basically never goes bad, so you’ll have it forever), but feel free to substitute honey. Serve the salad with lamb, chicken, or pork. Get the recipe:Shaved Rainbow Carrot Salad With Pomegranates and Pistachios
| Credit: Greg DuPree

We love our root veggies and hearty winter greens as much as the next home cook, but there is something about the sight of the first crop of bright spring vegetables that brings a huge smile to our faces and draws out the best in all our meals.

The fresh and zippy flavor profiles of vegetables like asparagus, radishes, leeks and arugula are flavorful enough that they can really stand alone without much help, making spring cooking light and healthful by nature.

So, swing by your local farmers market for some fresh finds and make the most of this abundant time of year with one of these tasty side dishes featuring in-season vegetables and herbs. The best part? All of these sides can be made ahead of time and then stored in the fridge so meal-prep for your busy week is as painless and efficient as possible. Plus, these make-ahead meals help you get your health plan back on track in the most delicious way.

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1 Spiced Peas With Cilantro and Lime

Fresh peas are as quintessential springtime as it gets. This Indian-inspired side dish relies on bright cilantro, zesty lime, and fragrant spices for flavor, eliminating the need for excessive amounts of oil or dairy. As good cold as it is hot, try this refreshing side dish with a simply grilled piece of fish or meat for a balanced, clean meal that will help you feel light and ready for spring.

Get the recipe: Spiced Peas With Cilantro and Lime

Shaved Rainbow Carrot Salad With Pomegranates and Pistachios
Credit: Greg DuPree

2 Shaved Rainbow Carrot Salad With Pomegranates and Pistachios

Carrots are hearty enough to stay in the fridge for a day or two even after you've combined them with the vinaigrette, making this the perfect make-ahead side for a weekday dinner or packed lunch. Roasted pistachios and pomegranate seeds add a welcome crunch. Try this alongside a simply grilled piece of chicken or pork for a healthy and vibrant springtime meal. While the recipe calls for rainbow carrots for a visually stimulating dish, it tastes the same with your standard orange carrot.

Get the recipe: Shaved Rainbow Carrot Salad With Pomegranates and Pistachios

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3 Asparagus Sesame Salad

Despite the fact that we can now find asparagus at grocery stores all year round, asparagus are typically only harvested in March through June in the U.S. (depending on your exact climate). Local, fresh asparagus is tender, crisp, and sweeter than those woody stalks you might find in the dead of winter. While roasted or grilled asparagus is always a delicious option, it doesn’t tend to keep very well in the fridge. Take advantage of the freshest spring asparagus and try it blanched and served over greens with an Asian twist. To make this side dish ahead, just keep the components separate and dress the asparagus right before serving.

Get the recipe: Asparagus Sesame Salad

Pickled Radish and Cucumber Dip
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4 Pickled Radish and Cucumber Dip

Every host knows the secret to a stress-free party is a making as much as you can ahead of time. Impress your guests with this creamy dip that uses Greek yogurt as a base for a protein-packed appetizer. The dip makes use of radishes, which are at their sweet, crunchy best in the spring. Serve with raw, thinly sliced fennel, carrots, and turnips to dip for an extra dose of seasonal nutrition.

Get the recipe: Pickled Radish and Cucumber Dip

Spring Bean-and-Chard Soup With Toasted Almond Pesto
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5 Spring Bean-and-Chard Soup With Toasted Almond Pesto

For those early spring days with a little chill still in the air, this satisfying vegan soup makes use of mashed cannellini beans for thickness without the heaviness of a dairy-based broth. It is the perfect light meal on its own or as a side dish or starter for a dinner party. The longer it sits, the more the flavors meld together—so don’t be afraid to make this soup a day or two in advance of when you plan to eat it. Just wait to add the dollop of pesto on top of each bowl immediately before serving for that extra pop of spring flavor.

Get the recipe: Spring Bean-and-Chard Soup With Toasted Almond Pesto

Snap Pea and Radicchio Slaw
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6 Snap Pea and Radicchio Slaw

The best thing about this slaw is that it gets better the longer it sits and the hearty radicchio and thinly-sliced snap peas have a chance to soak up the tangy, mustardy vinaigrette. With extra time, the slightly-bitter radicchio has a chance to mellow out, leaving behind the perfect amount of crunch with a hint of spice. The beautiful bright red and green colors of this dish make it the perfect addition to your spring table (or picnic basket).

Get the recipe: Snap Pea and Radicchio Slaw