Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras, sometimes referred to as Fat Tuesday, marks the last day of celebrations before Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. And this year, it falls on February 21. Regardless of your religiously-held beliefs, feel free to let the good times roll this year. (Any excuse, right?) Food and fun is what it’s all about, and OA can definitely help you get things rolling with some all-out Southern recipes. Are you ready to take a trip to New Orleans without leaving home? These festive, classic recipes will make you feel like you’re in the French Quarter, right in the thick of things.

Cajun Shrimp and Corn Chowder

Seems like Cajun seasoning and shrimp are two popular food staples for traditional Mardi Gras food. For a bit of a switch, this recipe from the LA Times and Humphrey’s Restaurant in San Diego partners up the wonderful taste of shrimp with some spice and creaminess that has Mardi Gras written all over it!

The Perfect Bloody Mary

Leave it to the folks at OA to come up with a tasty, veggie-based approach to a festive – and spicy – drink! For a Bloody Mary with French Quarter appeal, add pickled okra as garnish and you’re ready to celebrate Bayou style!

Method

In a tall 12-ounce glass filled ¾ of the way to the top with ice, crush two lemon wedges and two lime wedges, dropping the rinds into the glass after the juice has been squeezed out.

Add 1-½ ounces of Grey Goose or your favorite organic vodka

Follow the vodka with 3 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce and several shakes of Tabasco sauce, depending on how spicy you would like your drink. Six shakes of Tabasco makes your cocktail hot and lively, or if you like a little less zest, stop at two shakes. If you really like it spicy, add a small pinch of cayenne pepper.

Add a pinch of celery salt.

Pour organic tomato juice over everything, coming almost to the top of your glass. I prefer Knudson Organic Tomato Juice.

Grab your cocktail shaker and shake it up, baby. Pour the mix back into the glass, keeping the ice, which will melt into the thick tomato juice.

The garnish is very important to a Bloody Mary! Top yours with a fresh celery stick, leaves attached and sprouting into the air in cocktail celebration. Add a skewer of pitted olives, pickled okra and pepperoncinis.

Top it off with a sprinkle of freshly ground pepper

Sweet and Smokey Red Beans and Rice

Usually heavy on the meat, the Louisiana classic red beans and rice takes a new twist courtesy of VegWeb. All the flavor in this Cajun classic dish might bring this staple back many times a year!

Blackened Salmon Sandwich

Most celebrations include lots of indulgences, and Mardi Gras is no exception (they don’t call it Fat Tuesday for nothing)! If you’re searching for a delicious way to reign in the fried, fat-laden or far-too-tempting foods of the festivities, consider this Blackened Salmon Sandwich from Eating Well. The Cajun seasoning, low-fat mayo and added veggies make this sandwich a tasty and healthier option.

Raisin Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce

Along with the parades, beads and beignets, think you’ll be interested in a traditional dessert? This Southern-style, rich bread pudding recipe from Better Homes and Gardens is a classic dessert served all across Louisiana. Traditionally, bread that’s gone stale was used for this dish. How great to use something for a rich dessert instead of tossing it in the trash!

image: andy castro