Easy and appealing meals can be built around salads SEASONAL FARE

June 13, 1993|By Pat Dailey | Pat Dailey,Chicago Tribune

Salads are a mainstay of warm-weather menus. Their light taste and abundant use of fresh produce are a big seasonal appeal. Ease and convenience add to their allure.

As picnic season approaches, these recipes are worth considering. Easily prepared, they use vinaigrette dressings, and they pack very well.

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Potato salad with sausage, leeks and peppers

Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes

2 1/4 pounds small red new potatoes, quartered

3 tablespoons olive oil

3/4 teaspoon dried tarragon

salt, freshly ground pepper

8 ounces smoked sausage, cut in 1-inch slices

1 small leek, white part only, sliced

1 small red bell pepper, seeded, diced

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Toss potatoes with oil, tarragon, salt and pepper. Spread on a jellyroll pan and bake, stirring occasionally, until tender, 30 to 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the sausage in a medium skillet until browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Add leek and red pepper; cook just until they begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add vinegar and remove from the heat.

Toss potatoes with sausage mixture in a serving bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Avocados stuffed with Greek shrimp and feta

Yield: 4 servings.

Preparation time: 25 minutes

2 cups frozen salad shrimp, thawed

1 ripe tomato, seeded, finely diced

1/2 green bell pepper, diced

2 green onions, thinly sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup finely diced fresh fennel bulb or celery

1/4 cup oil-cured black olives, pitted, halved

3 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

3/4 teaspoon dried oregano

salt, pepper

1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

2 ripe avocados, peeled, halved, pitted

Gently squeeze any excess moisture from the shrimp. Place shrimp in a bowl and add tomato, bell pepper, green onions, garlic, fennel and olives.

Combine lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper in a small dish. Toss into shrimp mixture, then gently fold in cheese. Mound into avocado halves; serve.

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Italian tortellini salad with confetti vegetables

Yield: 2 to 3 servings.

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Cooking time: 12 minutes

1 package (9 ounces) fresh tortellini, preferably filled with chicken and prosciutto

1 large stalk broccoli

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 large cloves garlic, sliced paper-thin

1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

salt

1/4 cup each, finely diced: red and yellow bell pepper, onion

1 teaspoon each: balsamic vinegar, fresh lemon juice

3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

freshly ground pepper to taste

Cook tortellini according to package directions; drain and rinse with cold water.

Peel broccoli stem. Dice stem; cut flowerets into small pieces.

Heat oil, garlic and red pepper flakes in a large skillet over low BTC heat. Cook gently, stirring often, until the garlic is very soft but not brown, 5 minutes. Remove the garlic with a slotted spoon and discard.

Increase the heat to high. Add the broccoli, bell peppers and onion. Cook, stirring often, until crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and cool to room temperature.

When vegetable mixture is cool, add tortellini, vinegar, lemon juice, cheese, basil and salt and pepper to taste. Mix gently. Serve immediately or refrigerate several hours.

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