15 Colorful Recipes To Spruce Up Your Dull And Dreary Winter Menu And Get You Thinking About Spring

If I could do a perfect song-and-dance combo routine to tell you just how flippin' excited I am that it's finally March, I would. Thankfully, you'll just have to imagine my excitement, because it is finally freakin' March. And though temperatures haven't risen too far out of the 30s yet, hope — and hotter days — are well on their way. And thankfully, so are springtime recipes.

I'm not much of a winter-weather complainer (I'm an Aquarius, so kill me), but the last two weeks of February gave me a run for my money. Everything was miserable. Work was awful. My partner was number one on my hit list. I couldn't even make it to the gym. I was constantly tired and lethargic. I needed two cups of coffee just to make it to the subway. And the one thing I love more than anything — food! — tasted bland, boring, and utterly uninspired. Like I said, the end of February really took its toll on me.

And while I'm thankful as all hell we're finally out of the rabbit hole and on to bluer skies (did I just jinx myself?), there's one February frump that's stayed with me: boring dishes. Cooking, no matter the season, has always been my saving grace. I get in the kitchen and poof! All the stress of the day melts away and it's just me, my sauté pan, and a heavenly recipe I can't wait to sneak bites of. But lately, like everything at the tail end of the season, I'm itching for brighter colors, rejuvenating flavors, and perky pops of punch.

So I spent a little time thinking about how my food might improve my mood (step away from the cupcakes, girl), and decided if I can't will it to be summer outside quite yet, the least I can do is give my over-eager belly a little taste. Here are 15 colorful recipes to get you dreaming about spring.

Greek Chopped Salad

Want to know how to effortlessly wash those winter woes away? Whip up a quick, easy, and budget-friendly Greek chopped salad, like this one from A Farmgirl’s Dabbles. If you’re looking to get super funky, add beans or a lean meat — like steak or chicken — but we like this lady plain and simple.

Image: A Farmgirl’s Dabbles

Cranberry, Sweet Potato, and Black Bean Enchiladas

If the cranberry threw you off, don’t worry — it got me too… at first. But after one look at the rest of the ingredient list, I was delighted to find cran as the main ingredient. Fo Real’s Life kept it colorful, fresh, and just the right amount of tart, so I wasn’t too pissed when I heard it’s supposed to snow again this week.

Image: Fo Real’s Life

Creamy Cajun Chicken Penne Pot

We might be itching closer to spring, but let’s keep it real here: It’s still winter out there. And the colder it gets, the more and more I want quick, easy, and carb-loaded meals I don’t have to think twice about. How Sweet It Is satisfies your need for comfort food and your quest for color in this one-pot wonder. (Look at all that parsley!)

Image: How Sweet It Is

Mango Habanero Black Bean Tacos

On really cold days, I like to play this game in my head: I’m on a beach somewhere warm with a frozen mango margarita in hand. It helps ease the ache when it’s -2 outside and I’m so cold I can’t tell whether that’s drool or melting icicles. Thankfully, Love and Lemons gave us a little mango recipe we can work with.

Image: Love and Lemons

Kale and Wild Rice Salad with Chipotle Maple Almonds and Zingy Currants

A Farmgirl’s Dabbles loaded this crowd-pleaser up with tons of feel-good veggies, starches, and nuts to make you feel fan-freaking-tastic. Seriously, I just want a bite.

Image: A Farmgirl’s Dabbles

Marinated Kale and Whipped Ricotta Pizza

PSA: Kale is amazing, whipped ricotta is amazing, and when you put those two culinary perfections on top of a perfectly-crusted pizza, you have happiness and happiness becomes you. (Shoutout to How Sweet It Is for making all my pizza dreams come true with this one.)

Image: How Sweet It Is

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches

If you aren’t yet ready to part ways with all your delicious, carby and comfort-food favorites quite yet, then don’t. Just add tons of veggies (like this fresh slaw) to brighten up your plate. Back to Her Roots knows how it’s done.

Image: Back to Her Roots

Farmhouse Farro Salad

Some of us just aren’t big veggie people. You don’t have to depend solely on veggies to brighten up your dreary dishes. Instead, swap the starchy potatoes in favor of grains like farro and bulgur. A fully-loaded dish like this one from Love and Lemons will definitely put you in the bloomin’ mood.

Image: Love and Lemons

Ginger and Cilantro Baked Tilapia

Want to feel spring explode from every corner of your mouth? Try The Kitchn’s incredible tilapia recipe — it’s bursting with refreshing flavor, and has a cool, crisp aftertaste. Just a fair warning, you’ll want to make this again and again and again.

Image: The Kitchn

Blueberry Lemon Breakfast Pizza

Attention: Breakfast pizza is a thing, and it is real and it is beautiful. But if you don’t believe me, try out this stunner from Back to Her Roots. While there’s so much to love about this Circle of Goodness, the bright blueberry glaze is definitely my favorite.

Image: Back to Her Roots

Egg and Turkey Banh Mi

Breakfast for dinner is always a go-to in my book, especially when you’re packing as much flavor as you can in a Banh Mi sandwich. Between the cucumber, jalapeños, carrots, Daikon, and cilantro, this I Am A Food Blog dish is a huge winner.

Image: I Am A Food Blog

Gluten-Free, Vegetarian, Better-Than-Takeout Fried Rice

Some winter habits take longer to kick than others. For me, it’s my oops-it’s-after-5pm-and-I-don’t-feel-like-cooking Chinese food standby. (I can’t help it, OK?) So on nights I’m dying for Chinese, I switch things up and make it at home instead of ordering out. Oatmeal With a Fork’s recipe isn’t loaded up with as much MSG as the restaurant-made fare is, and you can toss as many veggies in the mix as you want.

Image: Oatmeal With a Fork

Smokey Shrimp, Corn, and Sweet Potato Chowder

On the days you need to blow your own damn mind, try this to-die-for dish from The Gouda Life.

Image: The Gouda Life

Asian Lettuce Wraps

Taste and Tell’s Asian lettuce wraps are the perfect 50/50 dish: You don’t skimp on full-fat flavors, but you get the refreshing crunch of crisp lettuce and a dish loaded with bright, colorful fare.

Image: Taste and Tell

Miso-Marinated Black Cod

While cool temps might force you to keep this award-winning recipe from The Kitchn indoors, once it gets warm enough you can whip this recipe into shape on the outdoor grill. (Just cross your fingers things heat up sooner rather than later.)

Image: The Kitchn