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Let Us Not Forget That Familiarity Feeds Content

July 07, 1985|BETSY BALSLEY

Once in a while, it pays to become reacquainted with vegetables that have been supplanted by some of the newer, trendier types. Take lettuces, for example. Butter and iceberg lettuces have been replaced as salad favorites by radicchio and mache in many of today's sleek salad offerings by up-and-coming young chefs. Yet, although the newer greens may satisfy an urge for the different, there's a lot to be said for the qualities found in the familiar.

When it comes to crispness, it's hard to beat a cup-shaped leaf of iceberg lettuce or a long, lean leaf of romaine. If it's color you're after, nothing is prettier than the crimson tinge that tips the edges of red-leaf lettuce. A final argument for incorporating these readily available greens into your menus is the matter of price; cost-wise, the oldies-but-goodies win hands down. If you've forgotten how good these types of lettuce can taste, we've compiled some recipes to serve as reminders.

CIOPPINO BREAD BASKET 1 loaf unsliced round bread, about 9 inches in diameter 1 quart lettuce, torn in bite-size pieces 2 cups cooked crab meat or fish fillets, flaked 3/4 pound medium shrimp, cleaned and cooked 1 cup cooked artichoke hearts, quartered 1 medium tomato, cut in wedges cup finely chopped onion 1 cup bottled classic French herb dressing

Cut top off bread lengthwise. Hollow out center of loaf, leaving shell -inch thick. Combine lettuce, crab meat, shrimp, artichokes, tomato and onion. Chill. Just before serving, toss with dressing and fill shell with salad. Makes about 6 servings.

PROVOCATIVE GREEN-BEAN SALAD 2 cups cooked green beans, cut julienne 1 clove garlic, minced cup chopped onion cup creamy French dressing 2 cup-shaped iceberg lettuce leaves 4 slices bacon, crisply fried and crumbled 1 cup seasoned croutons

In chilled mixing bowl, combine beans, garlic, onion and dressing. Toss lightly. Place in lettuce cups. Sprinkle with bacon and croutons and serve at once. Makes 2 servings.

CAESAR SALAD 2 cloves garlic, crushed 3/4 cup olive oil 2 large heads romaine lettuce 2 eggs 1/2 teaspoon salt Freshly ground black pepper 3 tablespoons lemon juice 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 8 anchovy fillets, cut into pieces 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 2 cups seasoned croutons

Add crushed garlic to olive oil and let stand overnight. Remove and discard garlic. Tear romaine leaves into bite-size pieces and place in large bowl. Boil eggs 1 minute and set aside. Add salt and pepper to taste to greens and toss thoroughly with olive oil. Break eggs in middle of salad and pour lemon juice and Worcestershire over salad. Toss until lettuce is well coated. Add anchovies. Adjust seasonings and lemon juice to taste. Add cheese and croutons and toss again. Makes 8 to 12 servings.

FLAMING GARDEN SALAD 2 1/2 quarts butter lettuce, chilled 6 slices bacon, cut in 1-inch pieces cup chopped onion cup oil 2 1/2 tablespoons garlic-flavored red wine vinegar 1 teaspoon salt teaspoon tarragon, crushed teaspoon lemon pepper 2 tablespoons brandy

Tear lettuce into bite-size pieces and place in large salad bowl. Chill. Fry bacon in skillet until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Discard all but 1 tablespoon bacon drippings and saute onion until tender. Stir in oil, vinegar, salt, tarragon and lemon pepper and heat over low heat. Sprinkle bacon over lettuce. Pour brandy over hot dressing and ignite. When flames die out, pour over lettuce. Toss salad gently to coat leaves. Serve at once. Makes 6 servings.

MAKE-YOUR-OWN SALAD

1 15-ounce can pineapple chunks in juice 6 slices bacon 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed 1 teaspoon garlic salt 1 tablespoon water 2 teaspoons cornstarch 1 small head iceberg lettuce, cut in wedges 1 1/2 cups sliced celery 1/2 cup sliced stuffed green olives Cherry tomatoes

Drain pineapple, reserving juice. Cook bacon until crisp, drain and crumble. Reserve cup drippings in skillet. Add reserved juice, vinegar, sugar and garlic salt. Blend water and cornstarch and add to juice mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and translucent. Arrange lettuce wedges, pineapple, bacon, celery, olives and tomatoes on serving platter. Serve with warm dressing. Makes 4 servings.

WILTED LETTUCE 4 slices bacon 1 tablespoon chopped onion 2 tablespoons vinegar 2 tablespoons water teaspoon salt teaspoon black pepper 1 tablespoon sugar 2 small heads Boston or leaf lettuce, shredded

Fry bacon until crisp; drain and crumble. Set aside. Saute onion in drippings until tender. Stir in vinegar, water, salt, pepper and sugar. Mix well. Pour hot mixture over lettuce. Add bacon and toss lightly until lettuce is wilted. Makes 4 servings.

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