Home Cooking Recipes
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Quick & Easy
By Beverly Barbour


MAKING SALADS ISN'T JUST A SUMMER SPORT

If your Dad was like mine, and a lot of men were, he referred to salads as "rabbit food." This was meant to discourage their appearance on the dinner table and he was much too successful. About the only salads that appeared our winter table were either made from cabbage in a whipped cream dressing, canned fruit in Jello, or a wedge of iceberg lettuce with a very thick, caloric dressing resting on a cut edge. Now any of the above ingredients can be used to make a good, tasty, healthful salad, but my Dad had a point. Mom's salads were predictable and more than a little bit boring.

Today's salads are a lot more interesting, healthful and lower in calories. Here are some examples to whet, and in some cases, completely satisfy your appetite. This hearty bulgur wheat salad recipe was developed by Marie Simmons, who has written a number of excellent cookbooks one of which deals with cooking grains. As you know, bulgur wheat is wheat kernels that have been steamed, dried and cracked. Do NOT use cracked wheat as a substitute as it has not been pre-cooked. Burgur has a mild, nutty flavor and slightly chewy texture. The coarser the grind, the longer it will take to soften and the more water is needed.

Basic cooking method for bulgur: toast in the oven or in a hot skillet before stirring it into boiling water. One cup bulgur to two cups boiling, salted water is the ratio. Let stand until the grain is softened, between 15 and 30 minutes. Drain off excess water before using.


BULGUR SALAD WITH ROASTED PEPPERS

Spinach is first choice but if it isn't found fresh in your market substitute another leafy green. Fresh mint is an ingredient you may not find now, but in a pinch you can substitute as many pinches of dried mint as please you.

1/2 cup fine bulgur wheat
l/4 cup pignoli nuts, roasted only 5 minutes
1 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Dressing:
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped flat parsley leaves
l/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup chopped scallions
4 cups packed thin sliced fresh spinach leaves
2 large red bell peppers, roasted, peeled and seeded, cut into wide strips OR 1 jar good quality roasted red peppers

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spread bulgur in a pie plate and heat until lightly toasted, about 10 minutes. At the same time toast the nuts by spreading in a separate pan and heating until lightly toasted, about 4 minutes. Place toasted bulgur in a bowl; add boiling water, oil and salt.
Cover and let stand for 30 minutes. Drain excess liquid. Cool until ready to use then fluff with a fork. Reserve the pignoli.
Dressing: Whisk the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. Add bulgur, parsley, mint and scallions; toss. Add spinach and toss gently to coat leaves with the bulgur. When serving sprinkle top of salad with pignoli, pepper strips, mint and parsley. Makes 6 servings.


ROOT VEGETABLE SALAD

This chunky and hearty salad could be the center of the meal, especially if you add cooked and drained bits of bacon or sausage.

3 beets (2 to 3-inches wide), tops trimmed
2 parsnips (3/4 pound total)
1 tablespoon olive or salad oil
l/4 cup cider vinegar
2 teaspoons dried tarragon
1 apple, cored and peeled
l/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups lightly packed slivered escarole or romaine leaves
Salt and pepper

Scrub beets and parsnips. Put beets in a pan of boiling water, cover and simmer 10 minutes (or cook in microwave). Add parsnips (again the microwave will be faster), cover and cook until both are tender, about 30 minutes longer. Drain and cool about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a bowl mix oil, vinegar and tarragon. Peel skin from beets and parsnips; discard. Trim stem and root ends from both vegetables; discard. Cut into l/2-inch chunks and mix vegetables with dressing in bowl. Cut apples into l/2-inch chunks and add to bowl. Add walnuts and escarole. Toss with salt and pepper, to taste. Makes 6 to 8 servings.


MAKE-AHEAD COLESLAW

The idea is to use a whole head of cabbage and any of the salad that isn't eaten at party can be dipped into for a week or so. You can make less, of course, but why bother?

1 medium heat of cabbage, shredded
2 medium onions, sliced or minced
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon mustard seed
1 teaspoon celery seed

Layer cabbage, onion and sugar in a bowl. Bring remaining ingredients to a boil and pour over the salad. Refrigerate 24 hours before serving. Makes about 12 servings.


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