Popular meal-size salads keep the heat off the cook

September 03, 1995|By Dallas Morning News/Universal Press Syndicate

One of the hottest restaurant items going is the entree salad. The National Restaurant Association notes that female boomers are most likely to order these pumped-up salads.

Entree salads are far from rabbit fodder. They're heaped with sun-dried tomatoes, portobellas, grilled steak, broiled chicken -- ingredients that turn them not just into a meal, but into a filling repast. Some salads are rich, even without meat: Think of layered Tuscan Panzanella -- a profusion of vegetables mounded atop bread cubes.

Here are some recipes from Dallas chef Christine M. Carbone. The cook can do most of the prep work -- make the dressing, chop the ingredients -- the morning or the night before.

Tuscan Panzanella Salad

Serves 6

1/2 loaf good-quality day-old French or Italian bread

6 Roma tomatoes, seeded and cut into 1/2 -inch dice

1 to 2 tablespoons capers

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 portobella mushroom caps, broiled or grilled, cut into 1/2 -inch dice

3 cucumbers, peeled, cut into 1/2 -inch dice

1/2 medium red onion, sliced very thin

1/2 red bell pepper, cut into very thin strips

1/2 green bell pepper, cut into very thin strips

1 head romaine lettuce, cut into bite-size pieces

Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes and set aside.

Mix tomatoes, capers, oil and vinegar. Scatter the bread on a serving platter. Spoon some of the tomato mixture over the bread. Layer each of the vegetables over the tomatoes. Top with remaining tomato mixture. The juices need time to soak into the bread, so chill for 1 hour at least. If salad seems dry, drizzle on a little more olive oil and vinegar. Serve cold or at room temperature. May be made 1 day ahead.

Per serving: calories: 315; fat: 20 grams; no cholesterol; sodium: 417 milligrams; percent calories from fat: 54

Chicken Taco Salad

Serves 6

4 cooked chicken breast halves, cut into 1/2 -inch dice

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 (4-ounce) can green chilies, chopped

4 tortilla salad bowls, from your favorite Mexican restaurant or takeout

1 head romaine or curly leaf lettuce, sliced 1/2 -inch thick, then coarsely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

6 Roma tomatoes, cut into 1/2 -inch dice

1 cucumber, peeled and cut into 1/2 -inch dice (optional)

1 ear of cooked corn, kernels cut off

1/2 small yellow onion, minced

1 cup bottled salsa

1/2 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, grated

1/2 cup cilantro leaves

sliced jalapenos, pickled or fresh, seeded and minced

Toss chicken breast with lime juice and chilies; divide among tortilla bowls. Toss lettuce, garlic, toma toes, cucumber, corn, onion and salsa; divide among bowls. Sprinkle cheese and cilantro over each. Serve cold or at room temperature with

jalapenos.

Per serving: calories: 370; fat: 17 grams; cholesterol: 63 milligrams; sodium: 518 milligrams; percent calories from fat: 41

Corn and Goat Cheese Salad

Serves 4

4 vine-ripened tomatoes, weighing 1/4 pound each

1 shallot, minced fine

4 ounces fresh goat cheese

1 ear raw, sweet corn

4 ounces cherry tomatoes (red, orange and yellow, if available; see note) plus extra for garnish

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves plus extra for garnish

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Cut tops off the tomatoes and reserve. Scoop out the seeds and central fleshy part of the tomato. (A melon baller works well for this.) Set aside.

Place shallot and goat cheese in a small bowl. Cut kernels off the corn and add to shallot and goat cheese. Remove stems and dice cherry tomatoes. Add to the bowl along with thyme leaves. Mix gently with a fork. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Fill tomatoes with the goat cheese mixture, mounding excess gently on top. Cap with the tomato tops and serve, garnished, if desired, with additional halved cherry tomatoes and thyme sprigs.

Note: If orange tomatoes are unavailable, substitute 1/2 peeled carrot that has been diced.

Per serving: calories: 124; fat: 7 grams; cholesterol: 25 milligrams; sodium: 467 milligrams; percent calories from fat: 46 percent

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