When it's crunch time, make salad from a bag What's up, Doc? Well, Bugs, blending packaged shredded carrots with fruits or vegetables makes salads in a hop, skip and a jump.

January 31, 1996|By Faye Levy | Faye Levy,LOS ANGELES TIMES SYNDICATE

Busy people have no reason to skip salad anymore. With such a variety of ready-to-eat salad ingredients available these days at the market, making salad is as easy as opening a bag, pouring the vegetables into a bowl and tossing them with a few seasonings.

One of the most useful of these packaged fresh vegetables is shredded carrots. They provide us with an excellent way to introduce color and vitamin A into our menus.

Carrot salads are delicious with fresh or dried fruit. Raisins are their classic companion, but have you tried carrots with dried cranberries yet? They make a smashing combination.

Dried cherries and blueberries are other fine partners for carrots, and so are fresh apples, pears and kiwis.

Carrots are also good when paired with other crunchy vegetables. Try mixing them with shredded red or green cabbage, sliced water chestnuts, jicama sticks or grated celery root.

As for dressings, if you're watching your fat calories, you'll want to avoid the old-fashioned mayonnaise type; substitute low-fat mayonnaise mixed with fat-free sour cream.

An even better choice is a light and tangy vinaigrette type dressing of oil whisked with vinegar or lemon juice. Go easy on the oil and add a fairly generous splash of vinegar or lemon juice.

If you feel the salad needs to be moistened further, orange juice is a good, gentle solution -- it adds no fat and doesn't have the aggressive acidity of vinegar or lemon.

Spicy ingredients are terrific with carrots, too. A popular carrot salad in Middle Eastern restaurants in Tel Aviv makes use of an oil-and-lemon dressing seasoned with fresh garlic and hot pepper sauce.

It turns shredded carrots from a mundane, "eat-it-because-it's-good-for-you" ingredient into an out-of-the-ordinary first course.

This colorful salad contains almost no oil and is ready in less than five minutes.

Carrot, cranberry and water chestnut salad

Makes 4 servings

1 (8-ounce) package shredded carrots (about 2 1/4 cups)

2 tablespoons strained fresh lemon juice

3 tablespoons orange juice

1 teaspoon oil

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

small dashes salt and freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup dried cranberries or raisins

1 (8-ounce) can sliced water chestnuts, drained

Mix carrots with lemon juice, orange juice, oil, ginger and salt

and pepper to taste. Add cranberries and water chestnuts. Stir to combine.

If you like, garnish this salad with a ring of small sprigs of cilantro or parsley around its edges.

Middle Eastern carrot salad

Makes 4 servings

1 (8-ounce) package shredded carrots (about 2 1/4 cups)

1 small garlic clove, minced

1/2 teaspoon Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce

freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons strained fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

dash salt

Mix carrots with garlic, Tabasco, pepper (be generous), lemon juice, oil and salt. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve cold or at room temperature.

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