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The Best Mother's Day Dinner Ideas for a Homemade Celebration

Food & Wine logo Food & Wine 4/16/2020 Bridget Hallinan
a plate of food on a table: Cook the best springtime dinner ever for the best mom ever. © Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food styling by Rishon Hanners / Prop styling by Audrey Davis Cook the best springtime dinner ever for the best mom ever.

Mother’s Day only happens once a year, and a homemade dinner, whether big or small, is a great way to make it feel special. Even better? It's a spring holiday, which means you can get creative with seasonal produce (asparagus! peas!) and fresh herbs. We've compiled several dishes that would make impressive additions to your table, from salads like little gem with toasted spice vinaigrette to mains such as roasted honey-dijon sheet-pan salmon. You can pick and choose from the categories below to make a menu, or, just pick one dish and keep it simple. The gesture is meaningful all the same.

Salads to Start

a plate of food on a table: Eva Kolenko © Provided by Food & Wine Eva Kolenko

If you’re looking for a lettuce-based salad, you can try our smoky Caesar, which swaps anchovies for canned smoked trout, or this Little Gem salad (pictured) with toasted spice vinaigrette from Aria Adjani—the homemade sourdough croutons add an extra special touch, and leftover spiced dressing can be used as a marinade for chicken or fish. Andrea Slonecker’s broccoli rabe and avocado salad with herby molten eggs, on the other hand, gets the bulk of its greens from the cruciferous vegetable, as well as minced fresh chives and chopped flat-leaf parsley.

Our bright spring vegetable and herb tabbouleh salad also includes several fresh herbs—parsley, cilantro, and mint—with the addition of seasonal green vegetables like asparagus and sugar snap peas.

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Smoky Caesar Salad

Little Gem Salad with Toasted Spice Vinaigrette

Broccoli Rabe and Avocado Salad with Lemon Dressing and Herby Molten Eggs

Spring Vegetable and Herb Tabbouleh Salad

Seasonal Soups

a piece of cake on a plate: © Andrew Montgomery © Provided by Food & Wine © Andrew Montgomery

Peas are a spring staple, so pea soup would definitely be a nice seasonal touch. Aaron Bertelsen’s minty version, pictured, is served chilled, so it’s refreshing and quick to boot (ready in 15 minutes). You could also try Carla Hall’s creamy asparagus soup with savory Parmesan shortbread coins—both are “dead simple” to make, she says. Or, go for Naomi Pomeroy's curried carrot soup, finished with a drizzle of tarragon-infused oil.

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Mint and Pea Soup

Asparagus Soup with Parmesan Shortbread Coins

Curried Carrot Soup with Tarragon Oil

Pastas and Grains

a bowl of food on a plate: Victor Protasio © Provided by Food & Wine Victor Protasio

Liz Mervosh’s pasta primavera recipe is packed with vegetables—asparagus, carrots, and sugar snap peas, plus fresh herbs. Our lemon risotto is also veggie-forward, studded with asparagus, golden-brown shiitake mushrooms, and savory Parmesan cheese. But if you want something still seasonal with a little meat, try this garganelli with speck, peas, and scallion cream (shown above). The creamy sauce is bright green and garlicky, and the salty speck, mint, lemon juice and zest added at the end add nice contrast.

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Pasta Primavera

Lemon Risotto with Asparagus and Shiitake Mushrooms

Garganelli with Speck, Peas, and Scallion Cream

Meaty Mains

a plate of food on a table: John Kernick © Provided by Food & Wine John Kernick

Although the total time on our roast chicken with hot honey (shown above) sounds long, a good chunk is devoted to letting the honey infuse and pre-seasoning the chicken. Once those are ready, the dish comes together fairly quickly. (Feel free to skip the edible flowers if you can’t find them.) If you’d prefer pork, Alex Hrabovsky’s pork tenderloin recipe is paired with a rich sauce starring pork jus, strawberries, and Merlot. As for steak? Paola Briseño González’s recipe for skirt steak and asparagus is paired with salsa de semillas, a beloved Mexican nut-based salsa.

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Roast Chicken with Hot Honey

Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Strawberry–Merlot Sauce

Skirt Steak and Asparagus with Salsa de Semillas

Mains from the Sea

a plate of food on a table: Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food styling by Rishon Hanners / Prop styling by Audrey Davis © Provided by Food & Wine Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food styling by Rishon Hanners / Prop styling by Audrey Davis

We’re big fans of sheet-pan meals (fewer dishes to wash, less mess) and Susan Spungen’s roasted honey-dijon salmon (pictured) is a winner, organized so that you can prep for the next step while the previous step is in motion. Cod with lemony leeks, snap peas, and herbs from Colu Henry is a simple, elegant main course that’s ready in just 35 minutes—there’s also never a bad time for shrimp and grits, and Isaac Toups' take features a chowchow made with mustard seeds, green tomatoes, and red bell pepper.

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Roasted Honey-Dijon Salmon with Spring Vegetables

Cod with Lemony Leeks, Snap Peas, and Herbs

Shrimp and Grits with Mustard Seed Chowchow

Meat-Free Mains

a plate of food with broccoli: Jennifer Causey © Provided by Food & Wine Jennifer Causey

The pasta primavera (above) is meat-free, but if you’re looking for more meatless recipes, try these. Biju Thomas’ veggie main dish (pictured) of cracked new potatoes with fennel raita is quick and yields four servings; sweet potato fans should try Spike Gjerde's sweet potato steaks, glazed with honey and served with Brussels sprouts. And Missy Robbins’ chickpea topping for a spicy pomodoro sauce is healthy, quick, and simple.

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Cracked New Potatoes with Fennel Raita

Honey-Glazed Sweet Potato Steaks with Brussels Sprouts

Chickpeas and Kale in Spicy Pomodoro Sauce

Don’t Forget the Sides

a plate of food with broccoli: Eva Kolenko © Provided by Food & Wine Eva Kolenko

A drizzle of syrupy aged balsamic is the finishing touch for this simple roasted asparagus and mushroom dish (pictured), ready in just two steps. We also love, taking a cue from Maydan in D.C., grilling carrots over charcoal and drizzling them with harissa paste and lemon juice for an extra punch of flavor. If Mom is craving smashed potatoes, try this recipe from Alison Roman, which provides pointers for achieving the perfect crisp texture. Because it's all about keeping her happy.

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Roasted Asparagus and Mushrooms

Grilled Carrots with Lemon and Harissa

Crispy Smashed Potatoes with Fried Onions and Parsley

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