Spring means warmer weather, longer days and short-sleeved T-shirts. It also means ditching the recipes that are so much a part of my winter cooking repertoire for light, quick-cooking options-salads, quick soups, sautés and stir-fries-that leave me time after dinner to play outside with my family.

For me, chicken is the perfect protein choice for spring. Not only does it cook quickly, it is a good, healthy source of lean protein and pairs well with almost any vegetable, especially the young, tender greens, leeks, asparagus and other spring vegetables that have started to flood my supermarket. Here are 5 of my favorite spring chicken recipes.

  • Chicken with Creamy Braised Leeks
  • A touch of heavy cream, a few garlic cloves and thyme sprigs round out the flavor of tender braised leeks with chicken in this recipe. The rich, silky sauce is wonderful over whole-wheat egg noodles or mashed potatoes. Leeks grown in the garden and those that you find at the store can be vastly different in size. Garden leeks tend to be smaller, so if you're using leeks from the garden, make sure you pick enough to fill up the pan.
  • Get the Recipe:Chicken with Creamy Braised Leeks & More Healthy Spring Chicken Recipes

Spring Chicken & Blue Cheese Salad
In this recipe, lean boneless, skinless chicken breasts are marinated in a garlicky yogurt dressing with tarragon then baked and tossed with sharp, bitter arugula and radicchio and drizzled with a creamy blue-cheese dressing.
Get the Recipe: Spring Chicken & Blue Cheese Salad & More Healthy Spring Chicken Recipes

Indian-Spiced Chicken & Asparagus

Indian-Spiced Chicken & Asparagus
Toasting, then grinding whole cumin and fennel seeds gives this curry-like chicken and vegetable dish an authentic Indian flavor. Cubed chicken tenders are sautéed in a large skillet with the spice mixture, chopped onion, garlic, fresh chile and a whole tablespoon of minced ginger. "Lite" coconut milk and tender asparagus finish this easy one-pot dish, along with a sprinkling of fresh cilantro.
Get the Recipe: Indian-Spiced Chicken & Asparagus & More Healthy Spring Chicken Recipes

Chicken Cordon Bleu Burger

Chicken Cordon Bleu Burger
The classic flavors of Chicken Cordon Bleu-ham, Swiss cheese and thyme-inspired this easy chicken burger. We like using regular ground chicken, which is a blend of thigh and drumstick meat, to help keep this burger juicy, but feel free to use 100% ground chicken breast if you'd like a leaner burger. You'll cut 20 calories and 1 gram saturated fat. Serve with roasted broccoli.
Get the Recipe: Chicken Cordon Bleu Burger & More Top Chicken Recipes

Spring Chicken & Barley Soup
You might think of barley as an addition to hearty, wintery soups, such as mushroom-barley or beef-barley soup, but it also works well in lighter soups like this one with chicken, asparagus and peas.
Get the Recipe: Spring Chicken & Barley Soup & More Healthy Spring Chicken Recipes