By Terese Allen, Organic Valley Food Editor
What with all the holidays that happen in December, you might think mid-winter is the most festive period of the year. But is there any time when we feel like kicking up our heels and partying more than spring? That’s when graduations and wedding showers resonate with the seasonal theme of a new beginning, and Mother’s Day salutes the women who first gave us life. It’s when, at cookouts, block parties, and porch picnics, we celebrate the sheer joy of being outside again.
Nature provides the perfect backdrop for a May event: a plush green carpet of scented grass, flowers blooming in pastel clusters, the swish of a light breeze against bare skin, the distant trill of songbirds. All you need to add is something delicious to eat. We offer the following special-occasion recipes for this year’s “holiday season.”
Egg dishes are welcome in spring because they symbolize the promise of life. In this recipe a little smoked fish gives a devilishly smoky savor to one of America’s favorite party foods.
Peanut Chicken in Lettuce Cups
An unusual finger food that’s perfect for the carb-conscious diners at your gathering.
Spinach, Mushroom and Dill Triangles
A trip to the farmers’ market will get you the main ingredients for this early season appetizer; the spinach and mushrooms are bound in a savory, firm custard that you can eat with your hands. (It also doubles as a buffet or brunch item.)
Ethereal and elegant, a soufflé is a dish that says “You're special” -- and who’s more special than Mom? On Mother’s Day, seat her in a place of honor at the table then bring out the soufflé, so she can enjoy its brief, high moment of glory.
Mesclun Salad with Fresh Strawberries and Honey-Glazed Almonds
Mesclun is an assortment of young salad leaves that may include lettuces, arugula, dandelions, sorrel, frisée, or other spring greens. Sounds innocent enough, but toss the mix with sliced strawberries and glazed almonds, and you’re in for a little excitement.
Basmati Rice, Ham and Asparagus Salad
Delicately flavored asparagus has an inherent grace that dignifies any dish, including this mélange of rice, ham and green onions. It tastes best at room temperature and holds up well on buffets.
Lemon Blueberry Muffins
See if your guests can divine the secret ingredient in these unusually good morsels. (It’s olive oil—and it lends a rich fruitiness.)
Strawberry Stuffed French Toast
Sweet, luscious and something you can assemble ahead of time, this deluxe version of French toast is equally suitable for a graduation brunch or as a warm dessert for a rainy spring day.
Baker Susan Bostian Young, of Tart’s in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, shares her fragrant, flower-flecked shortbread.
Farm Friends Bubbly
A blend of fruit juice and champagne is ideal for an organic celebration. (For an alcohol-free variation add tonic or sparkling water). Let’s toast to sustainable family farms, clean water, rich soil and happy animals!
Copyright by Terese Allen for Organic Valley