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Salad : One Vegetable, One Salad

August 25, 1994

Bless green salads--the lettuce, the chicories, the herbs and weeds thrown in with them. Despite their dazzling variations, they account for only a fraction of the world's salads.

Every vegetable has a salad . . . or should. (If there's not a rutabaga salad, somebody, please, invent one.)

The rule is simplicity--take one really good vegetable, give it a light dressing and be done with it. The following salads from four continents demonstrate how much flavor and complexity you can wring from a minimum of ingredients.

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France is the home of some of the most elaborate salads in the world, but in many homes every summer meal begins with this simple dish.

TOMATO SALAD

2 large tomatoes, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Salt, pepper

Arrange tomatoes on plate. Sprinkle oregano over top. In small bowl whisk together oil, vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Pour over tomatoes. Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about:

73 calories; 79 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 7 grams fat; 3 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram protein; 0.40 gram fiber.

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Tired of guacamole? Try this traditional Cuban avocado salad.

AVOCADO SALAD

2 avocados, peeled, seeded and sliced

1 small onion, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon wine vinegar

Salt, pepper

Arrange avocado slices on plate. Layer onion over top. In small bowl whisk together oil, vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Pour over avocados. Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about:

251 calories; 85 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 25 grams fat; 8 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams protein; 1.94 grams fiber.

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This recipe, inspired by a salad served at the various Mandarin Deli branches throughout Los Angeles, explores the gray area between marinated vegetables and pickles. It improves as it sits: the tastes blend and the texture and color soften to a glossy jade.

CUCUMBER SALAD

2 medium cucumbers

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar

8 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

1 teaspoon sugar

Cut cucumbers in quarters lengthwise, then in 1-inch sections. In medium bowl combine cucumbers, salt, vinegar, garlic, cilantro and sugar. Mix well. Cover with plastic wrap. Let stand overnight in refrigerator. Drain before serving. Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about:

32 calories; 300 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 0 fat; 7 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram protein; 1.01 grams fiber.

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There are many green bean salads, some simply dressed with good olive oil and lemon juice and others more complicated, like this Republic of Georgia recipe from "Please to the Table" by Anya von Bremzen and John Welchman (Workman: $18.95).

GREEN BEAN AND WALNUT SALAD

1/2 cup ground walnuts

2 cloves garlic, crushed in garlic press

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon water

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound green beans, trimmed and cut crosswise in half

1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced

1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro

Salt

Freshly ground pepper

In small bowl combine walnuts, garlic, vinegar, lemon juice, water and oil. Mix thoroughly. Let stand 30 minutes.

Cook beans in abundant lightly salted boiling water until tender, about 7 minutes. Drain, refresh under cold running water and drain again. Pat dry.

In salad bowl combine beans, onion, dressing, cilantro and more vinegar, if desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss well. Serve either chilled or at room temperature. Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about:

229 calories; 82 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 19 grams fat; 12 grams carbohydrates; 6 grams protein; 2.37 grams fiber.

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This is a little different from the usual carrot salad in that the carrots are cubed and blanched rather than shredded and raw. The result is a dish that is brighter in color and a bit sweeter--even without the addition of orange juice. From Michael Goodwin, Charles Perry and Naomi Wise's "Totally Hot" (Dolphin Doubleday: 1986).

MOROCCAN CARROT SALAD (Shlada Khizzu)

1/2 cup raisins, golden or black

1/2 cup white wine vinegar

1 pound carrots, peeled and diced, to equal about 2 3/4 cups

2 teaspoons honey

1 1/2 tablespoons oil

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Dash caraway seeds

Dash ground cinnamon

Dash pepper

4 large cloves garlic

In bowl cover raisins with vinegar. Let stand while preparing carrots.

Put carrots in pot of boiling, lightly salted water, reduce heat and cook until tender, about 6 to 8 minutes. Drain. Let cool.

In bowl combine vinegar, raisins, honey, oil, cumin, ginger, caraway seeds, cinnamon and pepper. Squeeze garlic through press into dressing and mix well. Toss carrots in dressing. Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about:

161 calories; 31 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 6 grams fat; 30 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams protein; 1.17 grams fiber.

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