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The Hot, the Cold and the Scrumptious

August 31, 1995|MARION CUNNINGHAM

When planning a meal, do you have trouble deciding which food goes with what? I often hear this lament; the solution is balance.

But what does "balance" mean? It means a lack of excess, of course, but there also must be contrasting tastes, textures and colors in the food. For example, a very spicy dish is best with something soothing; that is why a hot yellow curry is traditionally served with a small dish of cooling green cucumbers. Or a Mexican taco, stuffed with peppery meat and sauce, will have crisp lettuce, bland avocado and chilled sour cream to quench the fire.

An unbalanced meal: soft white bread with soft white mashed potatoes and a soft white pasta with Parmesan cheese.

It isn't necessary to make a fetish of contrasting each dish in a meal. There are no hard and fast rules, but a meal should be pleasing, and a little drama helps. The following menu is a happy combination of flavors, colors and texture that works for me. If mixing and matching is puzzling to you, try the capellini with salsa cruda . The hot pasta cooks the raw tomatoes just enough to make it a sauce; the pink grapefruit with basil leaves is a clean, lively side dish, and baked chocolate custard served warm is creamy, sweet and satisfying, with a little whipped cream on top.

PINK GRAPEFRUIT WITH BASIL LEAVES

4 pink grapefruit, peeled

30 or 40 fresh basil leaves, stems removed

Cut white membrane away and divide grapefruit into sections. Chill grapefruit sections. Place 8 to 10 basil leaves in center of each of 4 plates and arrange grapefruit sections around them. Serve while sections are cold.

Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about:

92 calories; 2 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 0 grams fat; 24 grams carbohydrates; 1 grams protein; 0.49 gram fiber.

CAPELLINI WITH SALSA CRUDA

In this recipe the hot pasta "cooks" the raw sauce just enough to bring the two together in harmony.

1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, seeded and chopped, with reserved juices

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/3 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon wine vinegar

Salt

Freshly ground pepper

3/4 pound capellini or other thin dried pasta

1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Mix chopped tomatoes, reserved tomato juice, garlic, olive oil, vinegar and salt and pepper to taste in small bowl. Toss well and set aside.

Cook capellini in 1 gallon boiling lightly salted water until tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. When done, drain in colander.

Immediately pour drained pasta into bowl of tomato sauce. Toss to mix and coat pasta. Serve at once on warmed plates with grated Parmesan.

Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about:

566 calories; 10 mg sodium; 10 mg cholesterol; 23 grams fat; 73 grams carbohydrates; 17 grams protein; 1.37 gram fiber.

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