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GOOD COOKING

When It's Hot

June 22, 1995|ABBY MANDEL

When the weather is hot, a typical meal might simply be a nice piece of grilled meat or fish and a salad. Why not put the whole deal together on one plate?

Some night, when cooking dinner, grill or saute more tuna, chicken or vegetables than you need, and you'll be that far ahead on the main-course salad for the next day. The trick is to let all ingredients come to room temperature before working them into the salad.

One key to these salads, aside from obvious freshness and some restraint in using vinaigrette, is to really season the ingredients that are cooked or grilled. To that end, an herb mixture for brushing on these foods is included as a basic.

HERB MIXTURE

1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons minced parsley

2 tablespoons snipped chives

1/3 cup olive oil

1/3 cup vegetable broth

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Salt, pepper

Combine garlic, Worcestershire, parsley, chives, olive oil, vegetable broth, mustard, sugar, salt and pepper to taste in small bowl.

Whisk until well mixed. Can be made day ahead and refrigerated.

Makes 3/4 cup.

Each 1-tablespoon serving contains about:

56 calories; 117 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 6 grams fat; 0 carbohydrates; 1 gram protein; 0.04 gram fiber.

GRILLED VEGETABLE COUSCOUS AND CHICKPEA SALAD WITH FRESH BASIL

VEGETABLES

1/3 cup Herb Mixture

1 medium zucchini, unpeeled, split lengthwise

1 medium yellow squash, split lengthwise

1 medium Japanese eggplant, split lengthwise

1 medium red onion, cut in half

1 large sweet red pepper, sides cut off in 4 slabs

Salt

Freshly ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1 to 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/3 cup thinly sliced basil leaves

Put Herb Mixture, zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, red onion and red pepper in large plastic food bag. Close tightly. Marinate 30 minutes at room temperature. Remove vegetables from bag and place on greased grill over high heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Grill until just tender, turning as necessary. Do not overcook.

When cool enough to handle, skin peppers and cut all vegetables into 1-inch chunks. Put in bowl. Toss with garlic and 1 tablespoon vinegar. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Can be made day ahead and refrigerated. Before using, let come to room temperature or warm slightly in microwave oven. Toss with basil leaves. Adjust seasonings to taste.

COUSCOUS AND CHICKPEAS

1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups vegetable broth

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

3/4 cup couscous

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1/3 cup thinly sliced basil leaves

1 large tomato, peeled, seeded and diced

Salt

Freshly ground pepper

Freshly grated imported Parmesan cheese

Balsamic vinegar

Olive oil

Heat vegetable broth and vinegar in 1-quart pot. When hot, remove from heat. Stir in red pepper flakes and couscous. Cover. Let stand 15 minutes. Stir in chickpeas and remaining broth as needed for fluffy texture.

Can be made day ahead and refrigerated. Before serving, let stand at room temperature. Toss with basil and tomato. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, mound couscous and chickpeas on shallow platter. Center with grilled vegetables. Serve with Parmesan cheese, vinegar and oil.

Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about:

281 calories; 1,002 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 10 grams fat; 42 grams carbohydrates; 9 grams protein; 2.38 grams fiber.

TUNA NICOISE SALAD WITH ROASTED POTATOES, GREEN BEANS AND FENNEL

SALAD

10 small new potatoes, cut in half

2/3 pound green beans, stem end trimmed

1 large fennel bulb, trimmed, cut lengthwise into eighths

2/3 cup Herb Mixture

Salt, pepper

2 (1/2-pound) tuna steaks

2 medium heads Boston lettuce

2 medium tomatoes, cut into eighths

20 Nicoise olives

Separately toss potatoes, green beans and fennel with 2 tablespoons Herb Mixture each. Spread vegetables in single layer on greased jelly roll pan. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Bake at 400 degrees until vegetables are tender, turning as necessary with tongs. Green beans will take about 5 minutes, potatoes and fennel about 20 minutes. Let stand at room temperature at least 1/2 hour and up to 3 hours.

Brush tuna steaks with remaining Herb Mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat. When sizzling hot, cover 1 minute. Turn tuna and sear other side, uncovered. Cooking should take about 3 minutes total. Tuna should be rare in center. Do not overcook. Cut tuna into 1 1/2-inch chunks. Put in bowl. Toss with 2 tablespoons vinaigrette. Tuna is best served warm or hot, but can also be served at room temperature.

To serve, arrange Boston lettuce leaves in large shallow serving bowl or divided among 4 large dinner plates. Drizzle dressing over each group of vegetables. Toss each gently to mix. Arrange vegetables on lettuce; mound tuna chunks in center. Garnish with tomato wedges and olives. Drizzle remaining dressing over salad.

VINAIGRETTE

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3 tablespoons drained capers

1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1/3 cup olive oil

2 teaspoons minced fresh tarragon

Salt, pepper

Combine garlic, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, capers, Dijon mustard, olive oil, tarragon, salt and pepper to taste in jar. Shake to mix.

Can be made day ahead and refrigerated. Let come to room temperature before serving.

Makes 4 servings

Each serving contains about:

551 calories; 1,360 mg sodium; 41 mg cholesterol; 39 grams fat; 26 grams carbohydrates; 28 grams protein; 2.36 grams fiber.

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