March Food Holidays Yield Ingredients to Inspire

By Marsha Fottler –

1890991_Members of various trade associations within the vast the food industry from the American Peanut Shellers Association to American Spice Trade Association take their turn being recognized with a month, week or big day all through the year. Most of these so-called food holidays are just marketing opportunities for these groups but their holidays are seasonally timed so that home cooks and restaurants can take advantage of local produce, seafood, berries and such that are being celebrated.

Since March is a transitional month combining surprising blasts of cold weather with the first official day of Spring, the March food holidays are all over the place from National Celery Month and National Sauce Month to National Ravioli Day which is March 20 or National Spinach Day, March 26. You can celebrate National Lemon Chiffon Cake Day on March 29 by baking one.

Here are a few March food holiday recipes to perk up your menus or to give you a reason to plan a dinner party. Happy March Eating!


Lemon Chiffon Cake

cake(from Martha Stewart)

3/4 cup cake flour, (not self-rising)

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

3 large eggs, separated

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons grated lemon zest, (about 4 lemons)

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Heat oven to 325 degrees and have ready an ungreased 7-inch tube pan. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and 3/4 cup granulated sugar; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks, vegetable oil, 1/3 cup water, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla.

Add reserved dry ingredients, and beat until smooth.In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar; beat on high speed until soft peaks form, about 1 minute. Gradually add remaining tablespoon of granulated sugar; beat on high speed until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes.

Gradually fold egg-white mixture into the batter; start by folding in 1/3, then fold in the remaining 2/3. Pour batter into pan. Using an offset spatula, smooth the top. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean and the cake is golden, about 45 minutes. Remove cake from oven; invert the pan over a glass soda bottle for 2 hours to cool. Turn cake right-side up. Run a table knife all the way down between cake and pan; invert again, and remove cake. Dust cake with confectioners’ sugar before serving.


Espresso Barbecue Sauce

sauce(from the Napa Valley celebrity chef, Michael Chiarello)

Use this versatile sauce with your favorite baby back rib recipe. Or drizzle some over a hamburger or a slice of meatloaf. Yields 5 cups.

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

4 tablespoons mashed and minced garlic

1 cup cider vinegar

½ cup soy sauce

2 cups ketchup

2 cups honey

Salt  and pepper to taste

2 demitasse cups espresso or about ½ cup strong coffee.

freshly ground pepper.


In a sauté pan over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and heat. Add the garlic and sauté until it gets light brown, about 1 minute. Add cider vinegar, soy sauce, ketchup and honey and stir well. Add a pinch of salt and then whisk in the coffee. Add pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Let cool and store in refrigerator for up to two weeks.


Citrus-Spinach Salad With Angry Shrimp

spinach(from Chef Michael Chiarello. His note: “Blood oranges and tangelos look amazing in this salad, but they aren’t always in season. Any type of orange or tangerine can be substituted.” Feeds 8)

Flour mixture:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 ½ tablespoons Anaheim chile powder

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper


2 blood oranges

2 tangelos

2 grapefruit

salt and pepper to taste

Extra-virgin olive oil

2 pounds (16-20) shrimp peeled but with tail on

6 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced

2 serrano peppers, thinly sliced

1 ½ cups fresh basil leaves, stemmed and cleaned

1 tablespoon julienned orange zest

3 cups pre-washed spinach, stems removed


For the flour mixture: Combine the ingredients and set aside in a container. This step can be done the day before.

For the salad: peel and cut the citrus fruit into sections over a large serving plate, making sure to remove the pith. Reserve the fruit sections on the plate. Drain the juice from the plate into a bowl. Season the juice liberally with salt and black pepper to taste. Whisk in olive oil to form a vinaigrette (it should be about 2 parts juice to 1 part oil). Season citrus sections with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle a little of the vinaigrette on them to marinate. Preheat a sauté pan over high heat. Dredge the shrimp in the flour mixture. Add a few tablespoons olive oil to the pan and put in one layer of floured shrimp. Add a little more oil if the flour absorbs what is in the pan. When golden brown, turn the shrimp over and let brown on the other side. Turn out onto a cookie sheet.

Add ¼ cup more oil to the pan. Drain pan juices from the cookie sheet into the sauté pan. Add sliced garlic and cook, stirring often until light brown. Add chiles and cook until soft. Add the basil. It will pop. Let it get crispy, less than a minute. Arrange shrimp over the marinating citrus. Add the orange zest to the basil/garlic/chile mixture in the pan. Season with salt and pepper, then spoon the basil/garlic/chile mixture over he shrimp. Toss spinach with the citrus vinaigrette and mound on top of the shrimp. Serve this colorful Spring salad at room temperature.


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