Coconut-Poached Chicken and Baby Spinach Salad with Spring Herbs

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Savor spring with weeknight dinners that incorporate early produce with the last vestiges of winter’s harvest.


With the coming of spring, our days begin their gradual lengthening, and, once again, highly anticipated spring produce becomes readily available. It’s such an exciting time of year, especially if you love to cook. Tender produce like fiddleheads, morels, nettles, ramps, spring greens, and asparagus soon arrive for a sweet, brief interlude before the heat of summer brings the heavy hitters. Truly, it’s a time to relish. Here are a few simple recipes, designed for busy weeknights, that incorporate early spring produce with the last vestiges of winter produce, in hopes of bridging the gap between the seasons.

Coconut-Poached Chicken and Baby Spinach Salad with Spring Herbs

This Thai-inspired salad is light and healthy yet full of satisfying flavor. Tender baby spinach is enlivened with vibrant spring herbs, and, together with the kaffir lime–infused, coconut-poached chicken, it’s a match made in heaven.

Serves 2 | 30 minutes

Coconut-Poached Chicken

  • 1 can (14 ounce) coconut milk
  • 1 kaffir lime (divided)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves (optional)
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (4–6 ounces each)

Spinach Spring Herb Salad

  • 2 large handfuls baby spinach (about 4 ounces)
  • 1 small Turkish cucumber, sliced
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced at a diagonal
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves, torn
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves (Thai basil is nice), torn

Optional additions: avocado slices, thinly sliced jalapeños, flaked coconut, sliced radishes, snap peas, store-bought crispy shallots, roasted peanuts.


Place the coconut milk, juice from half a small lime, salt, fish sauce, and optional kaffir lime leaves in a sauce pan and bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Add the chicken breasts, cover, and simmer gently for 15 minutes or until chicken pulls apart easily with two forks.

Place salad ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and toss to combine. Set aside.

Once chicken is cooked, shred into bite-size pieces and set aside. Let the cooking liquid cool to room temperature, about 10 minutes.

Add the shredded chicken to the salad bowl and spoon some of the cooled coconut broth over the salad, just enough to lightly coat the leaves. Divide among two large plates and garnish with lime wedges and any of the other additional garnishes. Serve immediately.

You can also make this ahead, keeping the dressing on the side (which will need to be warmed to room temperature before serving).

Dover Sole with Spring Leeks, New Potatoes, Meyer Lemon & Dill Oil

Serves 2 | 30 minutes

Here is a simple, healthy, sheet-pan dinner that features the beautiful light-green and white rings of spring leeks and freshly dug-up, thin-skinned new potatoes. Meyer lemon and dill oil work together to add vibrancy to the dish, giving it a lovely brightness. Feel free to swap out other white fish for the sole, adjusting the cooking time for thicker cuts.

For the potatoes

  • 8 ounces new potatoes, sliced 1/8-inch thick (about 2 cups)
  • 2 medium leeks, thinly sliced into 1/8-inch-thick rings (about 1 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt and pepper
  • zest from 1/2 lemon (Meyer if possible)

For the sole

  • 8–10 ounces Dover sole
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • pinch salt and pepper
  • zest from 1/2 lemon  (Meyer if possible)

Dill Oil

  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (Meyer if possible)
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt


Preheat oven to 425°F

Place sliced potatoes and leeks in a medium bowl and toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon zest. Place on a parchment-lined sheet pan in a single layer in the oven. Bake 20 minutes, tossing halfway through.

Add the fish to the same bowl, drizzle with oil, salt, pepper, and the remaining lemon zest, and toss to coat all sides. Set aside.

Make the dill oil by mixing ingredients together in a small bowl.

Once the potatoes are fork-tender (about 20 minutes), lay the fish over the top and place the sheet pan back in the oven. Bake 8–10 minutes or until fish is cooked to desired doneness.

Divide the leeks and potatoes into two bowls, top with the fish, and spoon the flavorful dill oil over the top. Scatter with fresh dill sprigs.

Ginger Miso Salmon with Spring Peas and Snap Peas

This Japanese-inspired dinner is perfect for busy weeknights when time is short. The salmon can be marinated ahead of time for an even speedier supper, and the peas cook just as fast as the salmon, making them ideal partners. Make a double batch of the marinade, saving half for another use (think chicken breast, shrimp, or tofu filets) later on in the week.

Serves 2 | 30 minutes

Ginger Miso Marinade

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 2 tablespoons miso paste
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated


  • 2 pieces salmon (4–6 ounces each)
  • pinch salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest (optional)
  • 1 cup fresh, shelled spring peas (or shelled edamame)
  • 2 cups fresh snap peas


Preheat oven to 400°F

Place marinade ingredients in a very small sauce pan over medium-low heat. Warm gently, whisking until smooth. Remove from heat. (You don’t want this to cook, just to gently warm to help incorporate the miso.)

On a parchment-lined sheet pan, place the spring peas and snap peas on one side. Pat the salmon dry and brush liberally with the marinade on both sides. Season with salt, pepper, and orange zest, and place on the other side of the sheet pan. Drizzle the remaining marinade over the peas and give a quick toss.

Bake 10–15 minutes, or until desired doneness, keeping in mind that thicker cuts of salmon take longer, thinner cuts take shorter.

Divide peas mixture between two bowls, top each with a piece of salmon.

Roasted Zaatar Chicken with Broccolini and Spring Green Tahini Sauce

Serves 2 | 30–40 minutes

This Middle Eastern–inspired dinner features zaatar, a spice blend that if you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting, I highly recommend getting to know — and soon! There are many versions of zaatar, depending on the region, but most include some variation of cumin, coriander, sumac, thyme, and sesame seeds.

Here, the chicken (or tofu) is liberally seasoned with zaatar, then gets roasted alongside broccolini in the oven. But really, if I’m being totally upfront, the star of the dish is the very addicting Spring Green Tahini Sauce. You will love it so much that you will want to marry it.


  • 2 pieces chicken or tofu (4–6 ounces each)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • generous pinch salt and pepper
  • 2 teaspoons zaatar spice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

Spring Green Tahini Sauce

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 fat garlic cloves
  • 2–3 thin slices jalapeno (optional, or use cayenne to taste)
  • 1 small bunch cilantro (or substitute Italian parsley)
  • 1/2 cup tahini paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, more to taste


Heat oven to 425°F

Place chicken on one side of a parchment-lined sheet pan. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle both sides with salt and zaatar spice.

In a medium bowl, toss the broccolini with 1–2 teaspoons of olive oil, and season with salt, pepper, and lemon zest. Place it next to the chicken on the sheet pan.

Place in the oven to bake, and check the broccolini after 12–15 minutes for doneness.  Using tongs, remove it to a plate and cover with foil.

Continue cooking the chicken until it is cooked through, keeping in mind that bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and legs take longer to bake (30–40 minutes) than boneless, skinless chicken breasts (20–30 minutes). Tofu filets take 25–30 minutes.

While this is roasting, make the Spring Green Tahini Sauce. Place all the ingredients in a blender, except the tahini paste. Blend until smooth. Then add the tahini paste and blend again until smooth. Taste, adjusting salt and lemon. You will not need all the sauce, so save some in the fridge to drizzle over Buddha bowls, veggies, and salads during the coming week. A nice gift to your future self.

Sylvia Fountaine is a Pacific Northwest chef, photographer and author of Feasting at Home, a recipe blog focusing on simple healthy recipes for the home cook.

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