THE MARCH SEASONAL FOOD GUIDE

March Seasonal Food Guide

Coming in more like lambs than lions, the first fruits and vegetables of spring are awash in shades of pale green, quietly announcing a shift away from the starchy produce of winter. I can’t imagine that March is so called because it has anything to do with marching, but this month marks a welcome transition out of winter and into spring. It really does feel like a steady march into something exciting and celebratory. That is to say, Yippee! Woo Hoo! and Hooray! There’s a whole new cast on the produce scene and it’s exciting. I could eat asparagus five times a week during the month of March. The same is not true of rhubarb, but I welcome it equally.

Again, feel free to share your own favorite recipes incorporating any of these items!



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Spring Onion

SPRING ONIONS are simply regular onions that have yet to mature into a full, round bulb. They are generally milder than mature onions but can be used pretty much the same way. Outside the U.S., the term spring onion refers to what we know as scallions or green onions. But they’re two different relatives: green onions never develop a round bulb, while spring onions do. These young pups are fantastic roasted whole or used in salsas and salads raw.

THIS MONTH: ASPARAGUS + SPRING ONION RISOTTO



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Nettles

NETTLES are a delicate leafy green that grow profusely, tending towards the weedy in urban locales as well as in the woods. What the plant is known for, however, is its sting. They possess hundreds of tiny white thorns that, if touched with bare hands, release irritating toxins. Once cooked, they’re no longer an irritant. Their flavor is mild and green, somewhat like spinach, and you can use them where you would use any tender green. Just remember to wear gloves when handling them in their raw state. Nettles also possess more iron than any plant!

THIS MONTH: HAND CUT PASTA WITH NETTLES AND PANCETTA



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Carrots

CARROTS don’t really have a season per se, since they can be grown year round in temperate climates. They are second only to the beet in sugar content where vegetables are concerned. And they are undoubtedly a stalwart in the kitchen. Along with onions and celery, they are essential in mirepoix, that holy trinity of aromatic vegetables that sneaks into so many of the sauces and soups we love. In terms of technique, the means of preparation are nearly limitless. Have you ever tried grilling carrots? Rubbed with some cumin, salt and pepper, they’re pretty amazing on the grill.

THIS MONTH: SMOKY CARROT HUMMUS



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Asparagus

ASPARAGUS tastes like spring. Asparagus leads the marching band of spring vegetables out of the dark stables of winter, all pale and green (or pale and white), delicate and nuanced, crisp, grassy, sweet and tender. The worst thing you can do to this lovely vegetable is overcook it. Soggy asparagus is a sorry affair. They love to be sauteed briefly, roasted in the oven, or blanched. You can even eat it raw!

Did you know that it is permissable to eat sauceless asparagus with your hands if your hostess takes the lead and does so herself? I did not know this before, but shall be taking full advantage of this little-known rule of etiquette the next time I see a dish of asparagus spears at a social function.

THIS MONTH: ASPARAGUS + SPRING ONION RISOTTO



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Lamb

LAMB is such a classic signifier of spring. Its consumption peaks in March and April, in conjunction with holiday feasts associated with Easter and Passover. Yet it’s the least popular meat in North America – on average, less than one pound per person is eaten annually. Lamb possesses a stronger flavor than many other meats, and people often refer to it as having a gamey quality. Pairing lamb or any red meat with cruciferous vegetables, such as brussels sprouts or cabbage, mitigates some of the negative health impact of the saturated fats.

THIS MONTH: LAMB OSSO BUCO WITH CREAMY POLENTA



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Fennel

FENNEL: It is no coincidence that a fennel’s stalks resemble celery, or that its flowering tops are not unlike the feathery tops of both parsley and carrots when gone to seed. They’re all related. Of those, though, it’s only celery that is at all similar in texture and flavor. Fennel’s a delicate anise-like quality makes it great in salads or with fish. It’s crunchy and crisp and fresh and is fantastic raw. You can thank (or blame) the Italians for the presence of fennel, whose seeds they brought with them a couple centuries back, and which now grow like weeds along highways and in abandoned lots.

THIS MONTH: MUSSELS IN ALE WITH FENNEL



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Rhubarb

RHUBARB is another of those perplexing vegetables that has been labeled a fruit simply because it’s more commonly used in sweets and desserts. It was once referred to as pie-plant, because that’s how it was most frequently used. And it’s related to buckwheat! On its own, it possesses an intensely tart flavor – which is often tempered by large amounts of sugar. But you can use it in a savory fashion as well – Mark Bittman has a great recipe for lentils with rhubarb.

THIS MONTH: RHUBARB SORBET



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Kumquats

The KUMQUAT’S unusual name comes from Cantonese and translates to golden orange. They are perhaps the most darling fruit of the citrus family, averaging only one or two inches in length. Unlike other citrus, their rind is sweet while the inner fruit is sour. Like other citrus, they do well in a marmalade, or candied, or as a cocktail garnish.

THIS MONTH: WHITE WINE SANGRIA WITH KUMQUATS

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by Kimberley

show hide 18 comments

JMN - March 10, 2011 - 11:51 pm

Oh, I am looking forward to the fennel recipe! I use it all the time in salads… Either with lettuce and radishes or with blood oranges and mint. Your photos are glorious as always. As per favorite asparagus recipes? I love asparagus with carpaccio and eggs, or tossed with dates and toasted walnuts (http://nice-weather-for-ducks.blogspot.com/).

Tine - March 11, 2011 - 2:36 am

I’m excited about the rhubarb! Can’t wait for it!

Kasey - March 11, 2011 - 10:04 am

Yes yes yes Spring!! I am so happy to see its arrival. Bring on the rhubarb and asparagus! I have so many recipes ready to be tinkered with :)

NicoleD - March 11, 2011 - 12:16 pm

Love your good guides! I’m excited about all of these recipes, but in particular the nettles. I’ve never seen them before, but that sounds so interesting and forbidden.

kimberley - March 11, 2011 - 1:51 pm

@JMN: I love fennel too! I haven’t had asparagus that way before, thanks for sharing!
@Tine: I know, rhubarb! It’s so great to move away from winter produce finally.
@Kasey: I can’t wait to see your awesome spring recipes! I’m sure they will be inspiring.
@Nicole: I wonder if nettles grow as a weed where you are? It might be a little early yet out there, but I’m guessing they do. They’re ridiculously overpriced in stores, considering how common they are.

Lynda - March 11, 2011 - 2:35 pm

Beautiful photos as usual, Kimberley! I look forward to every one of the recipes!

Kankana - March 11, 2011 - 7:45 pm

you blog is SO beautiful .. and thanks god I landed here :D Have so much to learn as a newbie in the blogger’s world!

Kankana - March 11, 2011 - 7:50 pm

PS: you should post something on photography .. JUST LOVE THE CLICKS!

Elizabeth - March 12, 2011 - 12:07 am

As an avid baker, I always look forward to rhubarb season. It’s such an interesting ingredient. I’d love to see you turn it into a sorbet! Absolutely stunning photos.

Joanne - March 12, 2011 - 11:46 am

We are in store for some beautiful recipes this month. You’ve got me SO excited for spring produce!

sara - March 12, 2011 - 4:33 pm

i have yet to cook something with rhubarb – that is my goal this season, i must make something!

Meredith - March 12, 2011 - 4:43 pm

What awesome photos! And the recipes sound even better. Nicely done ya’ll.

kimberley - March 12, 2011 - 7:27 pm

@Lynda: Likewise, absolutely!
@Kankana: Thanks! I hadn’t considered posting about photography, but maybe I will. :)
@Elizabeth: I’m so curious to see what other people do with rhubarb. Hope you post yours.
@Joanne: YAY! Spring produce is exciting!
@sara: I’m kind of in the same boat as you! I have like twice. I know you’ll turn it into something dreamy – hope it makes it onto your site.
@Meredith: Many thanks!

Mika - March 14, 2011 - 12:53 am

I love your seasonal food guide…I’m a foodie but I’m so used to have everything in every period of the year that I always forget seasonality…
When I was young was different…

Sanura @ MyLifeRunsOnFood.com - March 14, 2011 - 6:25 pm

These photos are lovely, for they remind me visit the farmer’s market. Very soon.

wgfoodie - March 15, 2011 - 5:49 am

What a fantastic post! What I look forward to most of the weather warming up, aside from the obvious escape from cold, is the beautiful array of produce that blooms! Love the recipes you’ve added incorporating each ingredient as well.

[...] of our favorite features is her monthly seasonal food guide, where she discusses ingredients that will be coming into season that month with links to recipes [...]

Rhubarb Sorbet » The Year In Food - February 23, 2012 - 6:57 pm

[...] This Rhubarb Sorbet recipe is part of the March Seasonal Food Guide. [...]

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