A stew for spring isn't as counterintuitive as it sounds.

The intermittently cool and rainy then sunny and warm weather is perfect for a simple stew. The difference is the timing. Unlike a stew meant for the dead of winter, a spring stew should be a relatively speedy affair.

This recipe compensates for the flavor typical stews develop during long simmers by drawing on potent ingredients such as Marsala wine and balsamic vinegar.

It also uses flavor-enhancing techniques, such as browning the chicken before adding it to the stew. The result is a light but flavorful stew perfect for spring. Serve it with a crusty baguette.

Servings: 4

Start to finish: 45 minutes (30 minutes active)

Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch chunks

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced

8 ounces baby carrots

1 cup frozen baby peas

1 large sweet onion, chopped

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2 cup Marsala wine

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Directions

In a large Dutch oven or stock pot, heat 1/2 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high. Add half of the chicken pieces and season with 1/4 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and repeat with another 1/2 tablespoon of the oil and the remaining chicken, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Add another 1/2 tablespoon of the oil to the pot. Add the mushrooms and saute until they begin to soften and give off liquid, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the carrots and peas, then saute for another 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of the oil to the pot. Add the onions and saute until they soften and start to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and garlic and cook, stirring for 1 minute.

Pour in the Marsala and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes longer. Add the chicken broth and reserved vegetables, then bring to a simmer.

Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Add the reserved chicken and vinegar and simmer until heated through, about 3 minutes.