Step Into Spring with 7 Fresh Recipes

By Ann Thelen

Discover seven new spring-inspired recipes, which boast a rainbow of flavors, textures and protein options.


Sheet Pan Roasted Vegetables with Eggs and Queso Fresco. Photo Credit: Midwest Dairy (Recipe below)

March’s sunny skies and warmer temperatures promise that Iowa’s beautiful spring season is on the horizon. As landscapes and fields will soon return to a glorious palette of green, sprinkled with bright pops of color, tastebuds also crave fresh new recipes.

We've pulled together a blooming-good collection of salads, soups, one-pan meals and more to put a pep in your step. Paired with Iowa-raised proteins, each recipe gives a nod to Iowa’s hardworking farmers. Incorporating nutritious and delicious protein into every meal helps fuel outdoor activities and make the most of brighter, longer days.

As you search for beautiful, fresh food during Iowa’s changing seasons, turn to Iowa’s farmers for local and high-quality items. Not only are farm-fresh foods found at farmers’ markets, but also at the meat counters and in the aisles of grocery stores across the state. As the No. 1 producing state of many foods, such as pork, eggs, corn and soybeans, and strong in beef, turkey and dairy production, Iowans have access to many homegrown choices!

Please note, by clicking the following links, you’ll be leaving a partially funded checkoff site.

Cajun Herb Egg Salad

 Cajun Herb Egg Salad. Photo Credit: Iowa Egg Council

Egg salad is a classic for a reason – it's delicious, versatile and generally made with inexpensive ingredients. You can adapt your egg salad flavor profile based on what ingredients you have on hand, serve it on crunchy lettuce leaves or pile it onto whole grain or toasted bread for a tasty sandwich. Whether serving a crowd or bringing some eggs-citement to lunch, this will become one of your favorite go-to recipes. Find the recipe here.

Fresh Facts: Each egg has 6 grams of high-quality protein. That's a whole lot of goodness in every perfectly shaped oval! At 17 cents per serving, eggs are an inexpensive source of nutritious protein. A protein-packed meal or snack helps sustain mental and physical energy throughout the day, helping you soak up outdoor activities and some sunny vitamin D!

Grilled Turkey Thai Chopped Salad

 Grilled Turkey Thai Chopped Salad

If a salad was listed as an example of spring in the dictionary, this would be it! Bright and crunchy cabbage, carrots, green onions and orange peppers combine with sugar snap peas and edamame to create a rainbow of vibrancy and flavor. Grilling turkey tenderloins to top this salad with a beautiful protein is a perfect reason to head outside to fire up the grill. Drizzled with a homemade salad dressing of peanut butter, honey, lime, garlic, sriracha, soy sauce, sesame oil and rice vinegar, this salad is crisp, colorful and awakens tastebuds. Garnish with peanuts, cilantro and Wonton strips for a picture-perfect presentation. Find the recipe here.

Fresh Facts: The tenderloin, a boneless, skinless portion of the turkey breast, is one of the most tender parts of a turkey. The tenderloin is a staple in various cuisines, which is a testament to its versatility. Cook until the internal temperature at the thickest part of the turkey reads 165 degrees F.

 Ham, Cheddar and Apple Quesadillas. Photo Credit: National Pork Board, Des Moines

Ham, Cheddar and Apple Quesadillas

Whether purchasing deli ham or using leftover ham from a spring brunch celebration, wrap it up into a dish that’s both fun for the kids and equally satisfying for adults! With Easter coming soon, this recipe is one you’ll want to save long after the Easter Bunny hops away! Ready in minutes, crunchy apples – tangy or sweet – pair perfectly with the slightly salty taste of ham and savory flavors of cheddar cheese. A sweep of honey mustard adds a sweet burst of zip to this handheld appetizer or meal. Find the recipe here.

Fresh Facts: Spiral-cut hams are easy to find in the grocery store and popular for serving to groups during the holidays, such as Easter. The unique slicing method, invented in 1957, reduces carving problems. These hams are often best served cold because heating sliced whole or half hams can dry out the meat and cause the glaze to melt and run off the meat. However, when properly heated and covered to keep moisture in, these hams are delicious warm, too!

Mediterranean Beef and Salad Pita

 Mediterranean Beef and Salad Pita. Photo Credit: Beef. It's What's For Dinner.

Refresh a typical sandwich and salad routine by combining the two into one. Ingredients like feta, Kalamata olives, tomatoes and Romaine lettuce served on pita bread give this salad a Mediterranean twist. The addition of convenient and delicious ground beef gives it a boost of power-packed protein. With 31 grams of protein in every serving and the recipe ready in 30 minutes or less, it's perfect for a hearty lunch or busy weeknight meal. Find the recipe here.

Fresh Facts: Ground beef that is 93% lean or leaner meets government guidelines for "lean." If you're trying to choose lean meats, this is an excellent choice. It works well in dishes that require crumbles, like meat sauce, tacos, stuffed peppers or casseroles where draining fat might be difficult. Ground beef should always be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. Color is not a reliable indicator of doneness.

Sheet Pan Roasted Vegetables with Eggs and Queso Fresco


Start or end your day in a colorful way by making this all-inclusive roast. With sunny-side-up eggs and chopped plants galore, it's like a sheet of six suns peeking through a haze of rainbow goodness. The queso fresco topping adds a cloud of savory flavor. Create your own variations, too – the sky’s the limit. Find the recipe here.

Fresh Facts: Queso fresco is a Mexican cheese whose name means “fresh cheese.” Queso fresco is a type of queso blanco or white cheese. Queso fresco has a bolder, tangier flavor than mozzarella cheese but is smoother and saltier than goat cheese. Its trademark salty-sour kick with a creamy texture makes it a fun cheese to incorporate into various dishes and works particularly well in classic Mexican recipes.

Cream of Asparagus Soup with Soymilk

 Cream of Asparagus Soup with Soymilk. Photo Credit: The Soyfoods Council

Asparagus and spring are synonymous. If it’s spring in Iowa, you know that a bounty of fresh asparagus will soon emerge. The name asparagus came from the Ancient Greeks, who used the term to describe all tender shoots that were picked and savored. Historically, many cultures have prized asparagus for its flavor, texture and medicinal qualities. Asparagus is definitely worth the wait. Three seasons pass before asparagus can be harvested. In its first season of growth, a crown forms with six inches of root. In the second season, the crown grows a fern. Asparagus can be harvested in its third year and reaches its prime after 6 to 8 years.

 This dreamy soup is a bowlful of goodness! Onion, leek, celery and vegetable stock boost flavor, while soymilk adds a delightfully smooth and creamy texture. Garnish with salt, pepper, nutmeg and cayenne pepper for a soup that sings with flavor. Find the recipe here.

Fresh Facts: Soymilk provides 7 to 8 grams of protein per serving. It's made from soybeans, and many brands fortify their soy milk with vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin D and calcium.