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Picnic Salads

June 01, 1995|ABBY MANDEL

Picnics are the perfect time to experiment with different salads. Salads can be made in advance without suffering any lack in quality. They can be served cold. And when supplemented by cheese, bread, perhaps cold cuts and certainly fruit and cookies, salads can make a full meal.

These salads are easy to prepare and hold up well overnight. The chicken tonnato is a twist on the classic Italian dish vitello tonnato . The Mediterranean couscous salad is deeply flavored with olives, roasted red pepper, feta cheese and basil. As a contrast, the celery root and carrot salad is refreshing and light.


The white meat of chicken is a delicious substitution for the cold roast veal that is used in the original version of this dish. To keep the chicken moist, be sure to cook it through without overcooking it and cool it in the broth. Sandwich the salad in soft baguettes or serve it on greens. It's important to keep the salad chilled until serving time.

6 large chicken breasts with breastbones


Freshly ground pepper

2 (13-3/4-ounce) cans reduced sodium chicken broth

2 large stalks celery, diced

1 large tomato, seeded, diced

Lemon juice

Generously season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Place chicken in single layer, meaty side up, in 12-inch saute pan. Add broth and bring to boil. Simmer, covered, until chicken is just cooked through, about 16 to 18 minutes. Remove from heat.

When chicken is cool enough to handle, remove skin and bones. Trim gristle and fat. Cut chicken into 1-inch dice, or smaller for sandwich filling. Strain broth into 2-quart bowl. Put chicken in broth. Refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.

DRESSING 1/4 cup parsley leaves

1 (6-ounce) can white tuna in water, drained, flaked

2/3 cup light mayonnaise

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 tablespoon water

1 teaspoon anchovy paste

2 tablespoons drained capers

2 tablespoons snipped chives

Combine parsley, tuna, mayonnaise, lemon juice, water and anchovy paste in blender. Mix until very smooth and flowing. Stir in capers and chives. Adjust seasonings to taste. Can be made day ahead and refrigerated.

Drain chicken, reserving broth, and pat lightly with paper towels. In 2-quart bowl combine chicken, diced celery and tomato. Gently toss until well mixed. Toss salad with dressing. Season to taste with salt and lemon juice. Can be served immediately or chilled several hours. Keep salad chilled until serving time. Before serving, drain off any liquid that accumulates in bottom of bowl. Stir well. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Each serving contains about:

386 calories; 758 mg sodium; 94 mg cholesterol; 22 grams fat; 5 grams carbohydrates; 40 grams protein; 0.31 gram fiber.


4 large carrots, peeled, shredded

2 small firm celeriacs, peeled, shredded

10 small green onions, thinly sliced

1/3 cup orange juice

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon oil

2 teaspoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon hot sauce or to taste

1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon

3/4 teaspoon ground coriander

3/4 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper

Combine carrots, celeriacs, onions, orange and lemon juices, water, oil, sugar, hot sauce, tarragon, coriander, salt and pepper to taste in large bowl. Toss until well mixed. Can be made day ahead and refrigerated. Can be served chilled or at room temperature. Before serving, stir well. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Makes 6 servings.

Each serving contains about:

78 calories; 366 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 3 grams fat; 14 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams protein; 1.3 grams fiber.


A combination of hot vegetable juice and vegetable broth is poured over the couscous, a precooked granular pasta, thereby "cooking" it while also giving it a mellow flavor and rosy color.

1/2 cup vegetable juice

1 1/2 to 2 cups vegetable broth

1 cup couscous

1 roasted sweet red pepper, diced small

8 Kalamata olives, pitted, flesh diced small

1/4 cup diced red onion

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/4 teaspoon salt

Red pepper flakes

1/4 cup thin sliced fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup diced mild feta cheese

Bring vegetable juice and 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth to boil in 2-quart saucepan. Stir in couscous. Let stand, covered, 10 minutes. Let cool slightly. Stir with fork.

Add red pepper, olives, red onion, olive oil, vinegar, salt and red pepper flakes. Toss until well mixed. Add remaining broth as needed for fluffy couscous texture. Can be made day ahead and refrigerated. Can be served chilled or at room temperature. Before serving, gently stir in basil and feta cheese. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Makes 6 servings.

Each serving contains about:

103 calories; 613 mg sodium; 6 mg cholesterol; 6 grams fat; 10 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams protein; 0.33 gram fiber.

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