6 Bright Recipes to Inspire You in the Dead of Winter

Winter typically channels warm foods like soups and stews, but you CAN get bright and fresh flavors and textures! This week we're incorporating dark leafy greens and sunny citrus in our weeknight dinners.

Meal Plan Week 4

Has it been a while since you’ve had a fresh multi-colored salad? Same! We’ve been living squarely within standard January fare: stews, braises, casseroles, and roasted vegetables. All wonderful and delicious, but I’m ready for bright and fresh flavors and textures. 

For that, I’m leaning on in-season dark leafy greens like kale and leeks, sturdy vegetables like squash and beets, citrus, and avocados for weeknight dinners that awaken the tastebuds. 

The produce aisle can feel drab in the winter. The good news is that dark leafy greens, squash, and citrus have long shelf lives when stored properly. Citrus lasts the longest (even two to four weeks) stored in the crisper. Quick tip: Room temperature citrus is easier to squeeze than cold citrus. Dark leafy greens like kale stay fresh in the fridge for five to seven days wrapped with paper towels and stored in an airtight container.

I hope you enjoy this meal plan. It’s full of bright flavors—a roasted beet salad, pan-seared, orange-flavored chicken, salmon baked in a parchment packet, and much more! 

  • Avocado Beet Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette

    Avocado Beet Salad
    Elise Bauer

    Start the week off with a hearty dinner salad made with roasted beets, in-season avocados, crunchy pistachios, and a bright tangy dressing. All you need is a nice crusty bread.

  • Spicy Orange Marinated Chicken

    Spicy Orange Marinated Chicken
    Sally Vargas

    This simple skillet chicken is marinated with orange juice (Squeeze it fresh! They’re in season!), chipotle peppers, and tons of fresh herbs. Let the chicken marinate for at least two hours. The chicken will taste delicious whether or not you pound it flat. Cook's choice!

  • Roasted Spaghetti Squash With Sausage and Kale

    Spaghetti Squash with Sausage and Kale
    Elise Bauer

    Roasted spaghetti squash can be shredded to resemble spaghetti. Add kale and your favorite sausage for a bold and hearty dish that leaves you feeling satisfied. Bake the spaghetti squash ahead of time for an extra quick dinner.

  • Flank Steak with Orange and Avocado Salsa

    Flank Steak with Orange and Avocado Salsa
    Sally Vargas

    Flank steak is a quick-cooking lean beef perfect for searing on the stovetop on a weeknight. Slice the steak against the grain and serve it with an orange and avocado salsa, queso fresco, cilantro, and warm tortillas. 

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • Salmon With Fennel Baked in Parchment

    Salmon and Fennel Baked in Parchment
    Elise Bauer

    Parchment can do more than line a baking sheet—make little packets, tuck salmon fillets in them, and pop them in the oven to bake. The salmon is nestled on a bed of sliced leeks and topped with lemon and butter. Each fillet needs its own packet, so scale it up or down depending on how many will be around the table. 

  • Weekend baking: Soft and Chewy Lemon Cookies

    A stack of soft lemon drop cookies on parchment with more cookies set around it.

    Simply Recipes / Eliezer Martinez

    Bring a little sunshine to your weekend with these soft lemon cookies. The dough is made with cream cheese, butter, and lots of fresh lemon juice (plus a little lemon extract). Chill the dough for an hour then roll them into balls, coat them in sugar, and bake them until perfectly puffy and tender.