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Cook It Light

Creating a Healthful Version of Edible Art

October 20, 1988|JEANNE JONES | Jones is a food consultant and a cookbook author.

Create your own exciting edible art with vegetables. It's lots of fun and the colorful masterpieces will delight family and friends.

Vegetable Fantasies are fabulous for party plates and can be made very small or absolutely enormous. They can be individual servings or a buffet platter. Vegetable Fantasy can be made with hot or cold vegetables and served as a side dish, a salad course or an entree.

Allowing children to create their own Pop art vegetable plates is the best way I know to introduce them to a wide variety of vegetables. This is one of those cases when it is OK for the children to "play" with their food--in fact, encourage it.

The first thing to do is select a vegetable to puree for background color. You use it to "paint" the plate. Use a plate with a rim so that the vegetable art has a frame. I like white plates best because the colors seem brighter with a white frame. I have found the best vegetables to puree are Hubbard squash and yams or sweet potatoes. They have the creamiest texture and spread more evenly on the plate. They also provide a wonderful background color.

Next, select a variety of colorful vegetables, steam them tender-crisp and cut them in different shapes and sizes. You are now ready to assemble the masterpiece.

Pour some of the pureed vegetable in the center of the plate and tilt it back and forth until it covers the inner surface, within the rim or frame. Now let the artist in you come out as you arrange the various shapes and sizes of the steamed vegetables on top of the puree. Any pattern you like is fine, just let your imagination run wild.

If you are really adventuresome, puree some part-skim ricotta cheese in a food processor until it is satin-smooth and, using a pastry tube, decorate the top of the Vegetable Fantasy with swirls and squiggles. Not only is this fun, it is also so low in calories it could be aptly titled a dieter's dream.

VEGETABLE FANTASY

1 pound Hubbard squash

Water

16 asparagus spears

1 cup thinly sliced zucchini

1 cup carrot slices

1 cup broccoli florets

1 cup cauliflower florets

1 medium sweet red pepper, seeded

1/4 cup corn kernels

Steam squash until soft, about 10 minutes. Peel squash and place in blender jar. Add 1/2 cup water and puree until satin-smooth, adding more water if necessary to reach easily pourable consistency.

Cut asparagus, zucchini, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and red pepper into desired shapes (rounds, diamonds, strips, etc.) and steam, along with corn, until tender-crisp.

Pour 1/2 cup puree into center of each of 4 dinner-size plates with rims. Tilt plates until squash puree evenly coats entire inner surface of plates and arrange vegetable shapes artistically on top. Makes 4 (2-cup) servings.

Note: Using pastry tube, decorate with pureed part-skim ricotta cheese, if desired. Squash puree may be seasoned with other vegetables, such as onion and garlic, or favorite herbs and spices.

Each serving contains approximately:

Calories: 98

Cholesterol: 0 mg.

Fat: 1 gm.

Sodium: 35 mg.

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