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A Not-Yet-Spring Menu

March 05, 1997|BEV BENNETT | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Bennett is the author of four cookbooks, including "Dinner for Two" (Barron's, 1994)

For some, March Madness means basketball. For me, March Madness means scrounging around for appealing ingredients in those weeks before spring's bounty appears. It means imitating a squirrel while digging around in the supermarket for firm apples or for onions without sprouted tops. March Madness is looking for something creative--and edible--to do with rutabagas and turnips.

To avoid boredom, keep meals simple and spicy. Rely on condiments from your cupboard, not delicate produce, to make delicious meals.

One of my favorite combinations is honey and vinegar or lemon juice. The sweet-tangy taste improves everything from chicken to salad dressing. My one caveat for this effortless flavoring trick is not to overdo the sweetness. Too much honey will make any food taste dull.

Use the flavors to make a delicious entree for two. First, there's teriyaki chicken, marinated and basted with honey, lemon juice, brown sugar, soy sauce and ginger. The taste is sharp, yet not overwhelming. Then, as a salad course, prepare a dressing of balsamic vinegar, honey and olive oil over pears, arugula and almonds.

TERIYAKI CHICKEN DRUMSTICKS

1 teaspoon oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon minced ginger root

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed

4 large or 6 small chicken drumsticks

Heat oil in small pan. Add garlic and ginger root and saute 1 minute. Add soy sauce, honey, lemon juice and brown sugar and simmer 2 to 3 minutes.

Place chicken drumsticks in shallow bowl and add sauce. Cover and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours, turning once.

Remove chicken from marinade (reserve marinade) and place on foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees 45 miinutes, basting chicken with reserved marinade every 15 minutes while cooking.

Pour leftover marinade into small pan and boil 2 to 3 minutes. Serve as sauce alongside chicken.

2 servings. Each serving:

370 calories; 2,155 mg sodium; 138 mg cholesterol; 17 grams fat; 16 grams carbohydrates; 37 grams protein; 0.04 gram fiber.

PEAR-ARUGULA SALAD

If you can't find arugula, another green with bite, such as Belgian endive, can be substituted.

1 large pear, peeled and cored

2 cups arugula, washed, stemmed and torn into bite-size pieces

2 cups salad greens

2 tablespoons chopped green onions

1 tablespoon slivered or chopped almonds

4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt, freshly ground white pepper

Slice pear into 8 wedges.

Combine arugula and salad greens on each of 2 salad plates. Divide pear wedges between salads. Sprinkle salads with chopped green onions and almonds.

Stir together vinegar, honey, oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour over salads. Serve immediately.

2 servings. Each serving:

258 calories; 159 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 20 grams fat; 21 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams protein; 1.71 grams fiber.

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