Here's What To Eat During Weird In-Between Winter & Spring Weather

We're currently stuck in that weird in-between time of year where winter won't quite leave and spring isn't really sure it wants to arrive. But, what's even more confused than the climate is our appetites. We're finished with February's soups and over packing more of January's salads. So, what exactly are we supposed to eat for dinner while we wait on the weather to make up its damn mind?

Rukmini Iyer has our interim menu plan covered with her new cookbook, Dinner’s in the Oven. Before you jump to any oven-conclusions of lackluster bakes or yet another boring roast, Iyer's recipes are the ideal mixture of fresh and comforting dishes that only take one pan to make. From a baked avocado and chicken salad to a zesty watercress and savory salmon number, the three winners ahead freshen up predictable winter recipes with creative spring twists. Scroll on to find your weeknight staples that are exactly what we need when it's sunny and warm one day and snowing the next.

Photo: Courtesy of David Loftus.
Avocado & Chicken Salad With Pomegranates & Brown Rice
Serves 2 to 4

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups brown rice
2 avocados
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp red pepper flakes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
Juice of 2 limes
6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
Seeds of 2 pomegranates
1/2 lb. baby spinach, finely chopped

Instructions
1. Preheat your oven to 400°F. Add the rice to a large pot of boiling salted water and simmer for 30 minutes, until the rice is cooked through but ever so slightly al dente, then drain in a sieve. Return the rice to the pot, cover, and allow to steam dry for 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, halve the avocados and remove the pits, then place them face up in a roasting pan or large baking dish along with the chicken breasts, making sure everything is in one layer. Scatter over the red pepper flakes, sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper and drizzle with the olive oil. Mix everything briefly until well coated with the oil, then pop the roasting pan into the oven for 25 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.

3. For the dressing, whisk together the lime juice, extra-virgin olive oil, mint, and pomegranate seeds, then season with salt and pepper and set aside.

4. Remove the cooked chicken and avocados from the roasting pan and slice them, discarding the avocado skin. Add the cooked rice to the pan along with half of the dressing and all of the spinach, and mix them well with the chile oil left in the pan. Lay the avocado on top of the cooked chicken, drizzle the remaining dressing, and serve.

Reprinted from Dinner’s in the Oven by Rukmini Iyer with permission by Chronicle Books, 2018
Photo: Courtesy of David Loftus.
Crispy Baked Gnocchi With Tomatoes, Basil, Mozzarella, & Pine Nuts
Serves 2 as a main (4 as a side/starter)

Ingredients
1 lb. potato gnocchi
2 tbsp olive oil
3/4 lb. vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into eighths
5 oz. fresh mozzarella, cut into bite-size chunks
Leaves of 1 large bunch of fresh basil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup pine nuts

Instructions
1. Preheat your oven to 425°F.

2. Place the gnocchi in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave to cook for 2 minutes, then drain well.

3. Add the cooked gnocchi to a roasting pan or large baking dish along with the olive oil and mix well to evenly coat. Tuck in the tomatoes, mozzarella, and half of the basil. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, then transfer to the oven and bake for 20 minutes.

4. Scatter the pine nuts over the gnocchi and bake for a further 5 minutes.

5. Tear the rest of the basil leaves, scatter them over the gnocchi, and serve immediately.

Reprinted from Dinner’s in the Oven by Rukmini Iyer with permission by Chronicle Books, 2018
Photo: Courtesy of David Loftus.
Super-Simple Salmon Á La Pesto With Israeli Couscous, Watercress, & Lemon
Serves 2

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups Israeli whole wheat couscous
1 2/3 cups vegetable stock
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
2 skinless salmon fillets, (approximately 7 oz. each)
2 tbsp of your favorite pesto
2 1/2 tbsp pine nuts, roughly chopped
3 1/2 oz. watercress, roughly chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Add the couscous to a roasting pan or large baking dish along with the vegetable stock and lemon zest.

2. Place the salmon fillets on top of the couscous and spread the pesto over the fillets. Press the pine nuts into the pesto, cover the dish tightly with foil, then transfer to the oven and bake for 20 minutes.

3. Remove the salmon fillets from the roasting pan and stir the chopped watercress through the couscous. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and some of the lemon juice, and serve with the salmon.

Reprinted from Dinner’s in the Oven by Rukmini Iyer with permission by Chronicle Books, 2018
Photo: Courtesy of David Loftus.
Dinner’s in the Oven by Rukmini Iyer, $19.95, available at Amazon.
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