Slow cooking isn’t just for hearty meats and root vegetables. As the weather becomes milder and a new crop of vegetables pops up at the farmers’ market, slow-cooked dishes can take on an entirely distinct — and more delicate — character.
Whether you’re braising in a Dutch oven or using a slow cooker, these vibrant dishes are easy to prepare, and the cooking is mostly hands-off. They combine the best of two worlds: falling-off-the-bone meats and al dente grains with bright, tender spring vegetables and herbs.
|Farro with Spring Vegetables
Farro, an ancient grain popular in Italian kitchens, holds its shape beautifully as it cooks, making it ideal for salads, side dishes and soups. Here, it’s tossed together with peas, leeks and asparagus in a colorful and healthy dish that’s hearty enough to stand alone but can also be served alongside grilled poultry or meat.
|Braised Salmon with Green Beans
Highly nutritious salmon becomes melt-in-your-mouth tender after a short braise in a slow cooker. The haricots verts—slender green beans—are cooked just until tender and then tossed with shallot and fresh tarragon, providing a brightly flavored counterpoint to the meaty fish.
|Braised Tarragon Chicken
This one-pot meal combines slow-cooked chicken with leeks, carrots and fresh herbs. Creamy mashed potatoes are the perfect accompaniment, soaking up the delicious braising liquid.
|Braised Lamb Chops with Artichokes
Perfect for a chilly spring night, this hearty dish features two iconic ingredients of the season: spring lamb and artichokes. Lamb shoulder chops are easy to find, easy to cook and—a boon for the hosts—inexpensive; however, you can also substitute smaller, leaner rib chops.
|Spring Veal Stew
Flavorful veal, asparagus, mushrooms and peas combine in this one-pot meal, which makes a delicious transition from hearty winter to lighter spring fare. Now is the time to use fresh peas instead of frozen — just shell them and add to the stew with the other vegetables.