As a calorie-watching host or hostess of a Labor Day party, you'll want to offer guests holiday fare that is as healthful as it is delicious. That's where salads come in.
Holiday salads, built on a foundation of the freshest produce, can be accented with lean sources of protein or an assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables to provide both the eye and taste appeal necessary for festive occasions.
Here are some tips for making salads healthful and delicious:
--Remove all visible fat from meat and poultry, including the skin, then choose low-fat cooking methods such as broiling, roasting, baking, stewing, steaming or poaching.
--To oven cook meats, make sure to moisten them with a small amount of wine, low-sodium bouillon or reduced calorie salad dressing. Tomato juice is another low-calorie flavoring ingredient.
--Use thawed frozen vegetables or cook fresh vegetables just until crisp-tender for the best flavor, texture, color and nutrition.
--When using canned seafood, select the water-packed product for use in salads and dice hard-cooked egg whites (reserving the yolks for other uses) for salad accompaniments that are high in protein but naturally low in fat.
--Develop a taste for plain yogurt and reduced calorie mayonnaise combination, which is an improvement over mayonnaise- or sour cream-based salad dressings. When creamy-type salads are chosen, be sure to serve in smaller quantities and accompany with a base of shredded lettuce. In addition to extra bulk, which offers that "feel full" feeling, having a full plate will provide psychological satisfaction as well.
--Employ grains such as rice and pasta, which are a rich source of carbohydrate, to enhance the nutritional content of holiday salads.
--Develop healthier versions of traditional dressings by substituting low-calorie, low-sodium or low-cholesterol products in recipes.
--Experiment with herbs and spices to make unusual taste combinations. Basil and tarragon, for example, will add appeal to almost any salad combination and minced fresh garlic can spruce up the flavor of ordinary chicken salad.
CRUNCHY ORIENTAL SPINACH SALAD
1 pound spinach, torn into bite-size pieces
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 (8-ounce) can sliced water chestnuts, drained
12 radishes, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups bean sprouts, rinsed and drained
1 small onion, thinly sliced and separated into rings
4 hard-cooked eggs, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup bacon-flavored chips or bits
Combine spinach, mushrooms, chestnuts, radishes, bean sprouts and onion in large bowl. Just before serving, toss in eggs, bacon chips and Ginger-Soy Dressing. Makes 10 servings.
1/2 cup oil
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons catsup
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Combine oil, sugar, catsup, vinegar, Worcestershire and soy sauces and ginger in jar with tight-fitting lid. Shake to mix well.
FRUITED CHICKEN SUMMER SALAD
1 (16-ounce) can cling peach slices in juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 chicken breast halves, boned and skinned
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
1/2 cup julienne-cut English cucumber
3 pita bread rounds, halved
1 tomato, sliced
Drain peaches, reserving juice. Chop peach slices and set aside. Pour peach and lemon juices into small saucepan. Bring to boil, then place chicken in pan and simmer 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken from pan, allow to cool, then chop.
Combine chopped chicken, celery, cucumber and Herbed Dressing. Mix well. Fold in reserved peaches. Serve as sandwich or salad.
For sandwich, open pita bread halves. Fill with tomato slice, lettuce leaves and chicken salad. For salad, serve on bed of lettuce garnished with pita bread wedges and tomato slices. Makes 6 servings.
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1/2 cup reduced-calorie mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon dill weed
1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper
Combine onions, mayonnaise, mustard, dill and pepper in small bowl. Mix well.
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
1/2 cup reduced-calorie cheese Italian salad dressing
1 cup broccoli florets
1 1/2 cups rotelle pasta
1/4 cup sweet red pepper strips
1 cup diced, seeded tomato
6 ounces sweet turkey Italian sausage
2 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese
Add fennel to prepared dressing. Cook broccoli in boiling water until tender but firm. Cool in running cold water and drain. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and place in bowl with red pepper, tomato and 1/4 cup dressing. Toss well.
Cover bottom of small skillet with 1/4-inch water. Add sausages and steam, covered, until most of water has evaporated. Then, continue to cook sausages until brown. Cut sausages into chunks and add to pasta mixture. Add remaining dressing to skillet and stir to remove pan drippings. Pour over pasta. Sprinkle with cheese. Makes 4 servings.
BROWN RICE FRUIT SALAD
1 cup parboiled brown rice
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon dry Sherry