Learning to Love Spring

Recipes and Photography by Ellise Pierce

Spring always makes me melancholy. You probably think I’m weird. Everybody loves spring.

As much as I like the part of spring that has to do with eating— the arrival of so many wonderful things, like soft leafy lettuces and delicate herbs—I’m still trying to embrace the season itself without feeling sad about winter going away for another year.

I love being outside when it’s cold and then coming in and having a bowl of soup or whatever else that I can warm up for dinner. I own more coats than t-shirts and far more boots than sandals. I love wearing UGGs and sweatpants and drinking coffee in the morning to take the chill away. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t dislike spring. It’s just not my favorite. Fall is my favorite, then winter. I like layers. I like cold wind on my face. Scarves wrapped around my neck.

Unlike winter’s constant assault and demanding presence, spring is one of the kindest of seasons. It comes not with a big announcement or dramatic entrance; it sneaks in quietly as winter slips away, with new buds on trees that we might miss if we don’t go to the park every day or notice them on our walk. It arrives slowly as bits of green emerge among the brown and dormant. Spring is hopeful in that way.

What I like most about spring is not so much the warming temperatures but what it brings with it (which of course is because of the warming temperatures, but still). Asparagus comes first. Then strawberries and other things, like peas and leeks, follow. Gentle things. Soft flavors.

Spring is simple. Not requiring a big effort to prep or cook. It’s a great time of year for the non-kitchen people, because the less you do with the season’s ingredients, the better off you’ll be. Steam some asparagus and you’re ready to go. Slice some strawberries or serve them just as they are, in a bowl with cracked pepper. Fresh spring peas take less than three minutes to cook. You want easy? Spring is all about that. Spring is its own Blue Apron. You don’t even need recipes for so many things that spring gives us.

It is also a time of the year when you can eat outside in Texas and not be bugged by swarms of mosquitos and flies. You might even have a picnic if you’re the tote-your-own-food, throw-the-blanketon- the-lawn type.

Spring means less fussing around and more eating what is, as it is. Which is pretty great, now that I think about it.


Frizzled Leeks and Lentils

Spring Salad

Chicken Tikka

Strawberry-Thyme Croustades

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Ellise Pierce is the Cowgirl Chef and author of COWGIRL CHEF:
Texas Cooking with a French Accent (Running Press). Read her blog
(, follow her on Twitter (@cowgirlchef) and Instagram