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Cooking Light offers cool meals for hot days

| Wednesday, July 19, 2006

With Pittsburgh in the throes of the hottest season of the year, it's important for home cooks to keep a cool head. Chilled or room-temperature dinners help a lot.

Cooking Light's July 2006 issue explores cool food, with a colorful French-Style Shrimp Salad on the cover page. The French theme continues with Oven-Poached Halibut Provencale and a menu of complementary sides and desserts.

The health-focused magazine offers ideas for nutritious sandwiches (pile on the veggies, use whole-grain bread), how to slice a fresh pineapple and ways to use imported Dijon mustard. There's an item about bagged produce -- regardless of what the label says, give greens and vegetables a rinse and spin before consuming, and serve within the first three to four days of purchase.

A story on calcium discusses its importance as a nutrient and good food sources of the mineral. Wild salmon from Alaska is the topic of a vacation visit to Winterlake Lodge, in Alaska. Cool potato and pasta salads and hot baked beans are showy side dishes at warm-weather picnics.

Readers can warm up to ice cream with seven great preparation steps and a comparison between bucket and countertop machines, along with seasonal recipes.

Food writer and cookbook author Micol Negrin contributes a light vegetarian Mediterranean menu for weekend entertaining, including a salad of tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil, a caramelized onion frittata, and a dessert of summer berries with limoncello and mint. Longtime food writer Antonia Allegra visits chef John Littlewood, of Westerbeke Ranch, in Sonoma County, Calif., to explore his eclectic menu that's tailored to his guests' dietary requirements.

Also in the pages is a question-and-answer session about marinades with chef Tom Douglas. The last page offers a summery Flank Steak with Grilled Mango and Watermelon Chutney.

French-Style Shrimp Salad

This dish is a twist on the classic salade nicoise with tuna. Kalamata olives can be substituted for the nicoise olives. Serve with French bread.

For the vinaigrette:

  • 6 cloves garlic, halved
  • 2/3 cup fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons imported Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:

  • 2 pounds peeled and deveined large shrimp
  • 12 small red potatoes (about {3/4} pound)
  • Water
  • 1/2 pound haricots verts
  • Vegetable cooking spray
  • 5 cups gourmet salad greens
  • 4 cups torn romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup (1/4-inch thick) slices sweet red pepper (about 1 medium-size)
  • 3 medium-size ripe tomatoes, each cut into 6 wedges
  • 1 can (14 ounces) quartered artichoke hearts, drained
  • 3 hard-cooked large eggs, each sliced into quarters
  • 1/2 cup nicoise olives
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers

To make the vinaigrette: Drop the garlic into a running food processor on and process until minced. Add the broth, basil, parsley, lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, mustard and black pepper. Process until well blended.

To make the salad: Combine 2 tablespoons vinaigrette and the shrimp in a large zipper-top plastic bag. Seal. Marinate in the refrigerator for 20 minutes, turning the bag occasionally to coat the shrimp.

Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for 8 minutes. Add the haricots verts and cook for 2 more minutes or until the haricots verts are crisp-tender and the potatoes are tender. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again. Cut the potatoes into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat the pan with vegetable cooking spray. Remove the shrimp from the marinade and discard the marinade. Add the shrimp to the pan. Cook for 3 minutes on each side, or until the shrimp are done.

Combine the potatoes, haricots verts, greens, lettuce, sweet pepper, tomatoes and artichokes in a large bowl. Add the remaining vinaigrette, tossing gently to coat.

Place the lettuce mixture on a serving platter. Arrange the shrimp and eggs over the lettuce mixture; sprinkle with the olives and capers. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings, each with about 2 1/2 cups salad mixture, 5 ounces of shrimp, 2 pieces of egg, 4 teaspoons olives and 1 teaspoon capers.

Nutrition information per serving: 366 calories (30 percent from fat), 12 grams fat (2 grams saturated), 336 milligrams cholesterol, 39 grams protein, 26 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams dietary fiber, 798 milligrams sodium.

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