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Markets Mock Winter's Chills

February 15, 1996|JULIANNE TANTUM

It still amazes me that as parts of the country are buried under snow, here in Southern California we can stroll through sunny outdoor markets in the middle of February. Our colorful, lively farmers markets hold new surprises each week, from truckloads of sweet tangerines to buckets of bright sunflowers. The best part is that they can be a fun and inexpensive way to shop.

All of the ingredients in the following menu (save for a few staples) are available at large farmers markets in the area, and you can expand the menu by adding breads, dried fruits and fresh juices. The menu can be adapted year-round to use seasonal produce and vegetables, which allows for the best flavors and saves money as well.

For the grilled vegetables, purchase a variety of seasonal vegetables--try eggplant, yellow squash, red onions, zucchini and wild mushrooms. Clean and slice the vegetables, peel and quarter the red onion (keeping the root end intact), and brush the vegetables with a little oil before grilling them a few minutes on each side. Right before serving, toss the vegetables with a little Sherry vinegar to accentuate the grilled flavors.

Since the markets are bursting with oranges this time of the year, orange-honey sorbet is a great way to incorporate a bag of oranges into your menu. You can even purchase your honey at farmers markets and select from such flavors as wildflower, orange blossom and sage.

Menu

Market Sampler Plate With Winter Greens in Fresh Herb Vinaigrette

Grilled Vegetables Tossed With Sherry Vinegar

Lentil Saute with Fresh Goat Cheese

Orange-Honey Sorbet in Iced Orange Cups

Shopping List

1 head red romaine lettuce

1 head radicchio

1 bunch arugula

1 bunch parsley

1 bunch thyme

1 bunch mint

2 eggplants

3 yellow squash

12 mushrooms

3 zucchini

1 red onion

1 pound fresh sprouted lentils

1 pound fresh green peas in shell

5 ounces fresh goat cheese

13 oranges

Staples

Olive oil

White wine vinegar

Sherry vinegar

1 lemon

Honey

Grain mustard

Cayenne pepper

1 egg

Sugar

1 onion

Game Plan

Day before: Make sorbet and freeze. Freeze orange cups. Make orange spiral garnish and store in sugar.

Few hours before: Clean lettuce, wrap loosely in towel and refrigerate.

45 minutes before: Slice vegetables.

30 minutes before: Prepare lentils, but wait to top with cheese.

10 minutes before: Grill vegetables and brush with Sherry vinegar. Toss lettuce with dressing. Top lentils with cheese.

After main course: Spoon sorbet into frozen orange cups and garnish.

WINTER GREENS WITH HERBAL VINAIGRETTE

Choose an assortment of sturdier lettuces--red romaine, arugula and radicchio, for instance--for the salad. The dressing can be made ahead and refrigerated in a jar for a few days.

1/2 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon honey

1/4 teaspoon grain mustard

1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh parsley

1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme

1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh mint

2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt, pepper

6 cups mixed greens

Combine vinegar, lemon juice, honey, grain mustard, parsley, thyme and mint in bowl and whisk until blended. Slowly pour in oil while whisking until dressing is thoroughly mixed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Toss greens with dressing to coat in salad bowl.

Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about:

94 calories; 89 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 9 grams fat; 4 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram protein; 0.61 gram fiber.

LENTIL SAUTE WITH FRESH GOAT CHEESE

Fresh sprouted green and red lentils, available at farmers markets, require less water and cooking time than dried lentils, and they taste excellent in salads. You can substitute dried lentils; cook them in about 6 cups of water for 45 minutes.

2 cups fresh sprouted lentils

Water

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

Pinch cayenne

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1/4 cup water

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 cup shelled fresh green peas (or frozen if fresh unavailable)

5 ounces fresh goat cheese

Rinse lentils in cold water. Bring lentils and water to cover to boil, reduce heat and simmer until lentils are tender, about 5 minutes. Drain excess water.

Heat oil in large skillet and saute onion until tender. Add cayenne and lemon zest and saute few minutes more. Stir in water, lemon juice, peas and lentils and cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat and top with crumbled goat cheese.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Each of 4 servings contains about:

517 calories; 142 mg sodium; 16 mg cholesterol; 15 grams fat; 63 grams carbohydrates; 36 grams protein; 5.92 grams fiber.

ORANGE-HONEY SORBET IN ICED ORANGE CUPS

12 to 13 oranges

1/2 cup honey

1 egg white

2 tablespoons sugar

Mint leaves

Squeeze juice from 10 oranges to get about 2 1/2 cups and set aside. Use channel knife to remove 12 to 18 strips of peel from rinds left after squeezing. Set aside.

Cut remaining 2 to 3 oranges in half and carefully scoop out pulp to add to juice if needed, preserving shape of peel. Place hollowed halves in freezer until frozen, about 1 hour.

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