From Z to A: Spring Recipes Where In-Season Produce Shines

This month, citrus, Brussels sprouts and cabbage, among a few other items, are in season. I love cooking with the season because that’s how you can ensure you have access to the freshest foods in your area, as well as the most abundant nutrients. It’s also better for the environment to eat seasonal foods!

So with that in mind, here are two recipes, along with a dressing recipe, that will add a lot of flavor and nutrients to your season.


Sesame Chicken Cabbage Crunch Salad


For the marinade 

  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
  • 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp. garlic paste
  • 1 tsp. ginger paste
  • salt to taste

For the salad

  • 1 cup shredded green cabbage 
  • 1 cup shredded red cabbage
  • 1 cup shaved Brussels sprouts
  • 1/4 cup diced green onion
  • 1/2 cup freshly chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots (bagged or cut into matchsticks for excellent crunch!)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds

For the sesame ginger dressing

  • 2 tbsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce 
  • 2-3 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 ½ tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp. freshly minced ginger or ginger paste
  • 1 tbsp. creamy peanut butter

Extra toppings

  • sesame seeds
  • extra cilantro
  • extra green onion
  • crispy wonton strips


  1. Marinate the chicken and allow to sit in the fridge for at least two hours. Alternatively, you can use a store-bought Asian dressing to use as the marinade. 
  2. To make the dressing, in a large bowl add in the peanut butter, brown sugar, garlic and ginger and whisk together until completely combined. Slowly add in the remaining ingredients and whisk together until combined. Adjust to taste and set aside.
  3. In a skillet, heat a little oil and remove the marinated chicken from the marinade and add to pan. Cook on both sides until cooked through and the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Allow to cool slightly while you assemble the rest of the salad.
  4. In a large bowl, add in the cabbage, Brussels sprouts, green onions, cilantro, carrots and bell peppers. Pour dressing all over the salad and toss to combine. Once chicken is cooled slightly, slice or shred the chicken and add to the salad. Top the salad with the additional toppings. Optional: Add a squeeze of lime and/or sliced jalapeños.


Lemon Lavender Bars


For the crust

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

For the filling

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp. dried culinary lavender (depending on how strong of a flavor you’d like)
  • 2 tbsp. all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tbsp. lemon zest
  • additional lavender for garnish


  1. Preheat the oven to 350° and line an 8×8 pan with parchment. Set aside.
  2. In a food processor, add in the sugar and the dried lavender and pulse a few times until combined.
  3. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, regular sugar, flour and salt until the mixture comes together. The mixture will be crumbly.
  4. Press the shortbread in an even layer into the pan. Use a fork to make a few holes in the crust. Blind bake for 20 minutes.
  5. While the crust bakes, make the lemon layer. In a bowl, mix together the eggs, lemon juice and lemon zest. Add to the flour and lavender sugar mixture and whisk until just combined. The mixture will be thin.
  6. Take the crust out of the oven and pour the lemon layer over the blind baked shortbread crust.
  7. Lower the oven temperature to 325° and bake for 20-25 more minutes, or until the center no longer jiggles. Take the bars out of the oven and allow to cool completely.
  8. Once the bars are completely cool, transfer to the fridge to set for two hours (or overnight) until ready to serve. Slice the lemon bars and serve cold with a dusting of powdered sugar. Garnish with additional lavender.


From Z to A with Zara Abbasi

Zara Abbasi is the pastry chef and recipe developer behind Zara Made It. Follow her food adventures on Instagram at @zaramadeit and on Tiktok at @happiestfoodonearth.

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