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Spring Fest: 4 Reasons Not to Turn on Your Oven

With temperatures heating up, get ready for an al fresco meal without turning up the heat: These quick no-cook sides are perfect for a picnic on a warm spring day.

1. Five-Minute Salad: Goat Cheese, Herb and White Bean (pictured above)
Ellie’s no-cook salad truly does come together in five minutes, combines fresh, seasonal ingredients with protein-packed beans. The lot is mixed with her simple homemade vinaigrette and a handful of torn basil leaves for that from-the-garden taste.

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Spring Fest: 5 Mozzarella Appetizers, Sides and Salads

Mozzarella just might be the season’s quintessential cheese. Prized for its creamy texture and mild flavor, it’s a neutral canvas for spring produce, complementing light and bright flavors without adding making things too heavy.

1. Caprese di Farro (pictured above)
Farro — the oldest cultivated grain — is a great base for sides. Dress it up for a spring gathering by tossing the hearty grain with sweet cherry tomatoes, briny Kalamata olives and chunks of mozzarella for a Mediterranean-style salad with enough heft to be a vegetarian main dish.

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Spring Fest: 5 Fresh Takes on Hummus

While we’re waiting on perfect peas to come into season, fudge it with mashed (chick)peas. These clever takes on hummus are light for spring entertaining and will make great use of crudites as they come into season. Here are recipes for classic hummus plus four variations that are ideal for using seasonal ingredients.

1. Hummus bi Tahini (pictured above)
This classic hummus is topped with a sauce made from tahini, the sesame-seed paste that is nearly ubiquitous in Middle Eastern cooking. Although preparing hummus from dry beans demands extra work, the authentic, flavorful results are well worth the effort.

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Spring Fest: 6 Easy Easter Sides

Though ham and lamb may get the Easter spotlight, spring’s marquee holiday is the ideal time to play with the season’s fresh vegetable superstars like asparagus, peas and green beans. A welcome respite from hearty winter greens, these three are healthy, quick and easy to dress up. Here are six preparation ideas that could easily steal the show at the holiday table.

1. Asparagus and Smoked Salmon Bundles
Turn asparagus into an edible present by wrapping a slice of silky smoked salmon around each spear. Not only does that salmon add an excellent smoky flavor, but it also brings a festive pink hue to the table.

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Spring Fest: 5 Kid-Friendly Cupcakes

Cupcakes, when you get down to it, are just cakes sized for kids. And some of the best cupcake flavors — including strawberry — are at their peak in spring. Give in to sweet temptation with these spring cupcake recipes that appeal to kids of all ages. A few are even decorated with seasonal, floral accents, making them ideal for a spring garden party.

1. Strawberry Surprise Cupcakes
Perfect for a spring party or birthday celebration, these cupcakes hold an unexpected burst of strawberry frosting inside, not just on top. The inviting pink hue is all natural — the jewel-colored berries mean that no food coloring is needed.

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Spring Fest: Clean Out the Pantry Night

These days it’s a waiting game to see which early spring favorites pop up first at the farmers’ market. While you wait for asparagus sprouts to become snappy spears, clear out your pantry to make way for new seasonal bounty. With a few key canned goods, it’s easy to prepare a well-rounded springtime meal without having to purchase much from the grocery store. Here are six satisfying recipes that rely on pantry or freezer staples for quick, flavorful results.

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