By July 4, many of summer's rituals have already been enjoyed--the first dinner on the deck, the first grilled dinner and the first romantic picnic of the season. So this is a fine opportunity to share a sophisticated, yet simple menu, rather than still another version of potato salad and fried chicken for two.
With fresh vegetables at peak quality, prepare a salad of three greens, tomatoes and olives. In the recipe that follows, arugula, basil and lettuce are used. The greens can vary according to what's available, but choose a mild lettuce, a sharply flavored lettuce and an herb that complements both.
If you'd like to take this salad to a picnic, pack the dressing separately and add it to the lettuce mixture just before serving. Also, substitute a few whole cherry tomatoes for the diced tomato.
Honey-chicken kebabs pair sweet and hot flavors in a delicious entree. This versatile dish can be prepared and fully cooked then served at room temperature for a back-yard meal, or it can be cooked on the grill.
ARUGULA, BASIL AND OLIVE SALAD
1 cup torn arugula leaves, packed
1 cup torn lettuce leaves, packed
1/4 cup torn basil leaves, packed
1/4 cup sliced black olives, packed
1 small tomato, cored and diced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
Combine arugula, lettuce, basil, olives and tomato in salad bowl and toss gently.
Whisk together mustard, vinegar, olive and vegetable oils and white pepper in small bowl. Whisk in salt to taste. Pour over greens and toss gently, but well. Makes 2 generous servings.
2 teaspoons grated ginger root
1 clove garlic, minced
2 shallots, chopped
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Dash cayenne pepper
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-size chunks
1 green onion, green part only, sliced
Mix together ginger, garlic, shallots, honey, soy sauce and cayenne in medium glass bowl. Add chicken and stir to mix well. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour. Thread 2 skewers with chicken cubes. Broil 4 inches from heat, turning skewers once, until chicken is golden and cooked, 7 to 8 minutes on first side, 2 to 3 minutes on second side.
Spoon rice onto 2 plates and arrange chicken over rice. Sprinkle with green onion. Makes 2 servings.
Note: If using wooden skewers, soak first in cold water 10 minutes. Kebabs may also be cooked on outdoor grill 4 to 5 inches from heat. Follow above cooking times, but check chicken after 5 minutes.
Adapted from "The Varied Kitchens of India," by Copeland Marks (M. Evans & Co.: $19.95).