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LOW-FAT COOKING

Party Snacking Without Guilt

July 25, 1996|DONNA DEANE | TIMES TEST KITCHEN DIRECTOR

It's easy to consume more fat than you're aware of when nibbling seemingly innocent hors d'oeuvres. We cut down the fat in this pass-around appetizer by substituting nonfat yogurt cheese for high-fat cream cheese.

It's simple to make your own yogurt cheese. Many markets and cookware stores sell strainers made specifically for draining yogurt, but a colander or ordinary kitchen strainer lined with cheesecloth will do.

Spoon nonfat plain yogurt into the strainer, cover it and refrigerate. The longer the yogurt drains, the thicker it will be. I like it best when it's allowed to stand overnight. Note that after the cheese is made, the filling needs to chill several hours; be sure to allow enough preparation time before your party.

In this recipe, you will use about half of the cheese filling for stuffing the peas; the remainder may be used as a dip for fresh vegetable strips.

YOGURT CHEESE-STUFFED PEAS

YOGURT CHEESE

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups plain nonfat yogurt

Stir salt into yogurt. Pour into colander or kitchen strainer lined with double thickness of damp cheesecloth in bowl so bottom of strainer is several inches above surface or pour into yogurt strainer. Cover and chill at least 5 hours or overnight.

STUFFED PEAS

1 orange bell pepper, roasted and peeled

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon minced basil leaves

1 teaspoon minced fresh mint leaves

Sea salt

36 fresh sugar snap peas

Remove seeds from peeled, roasted pepper. Coarsely chop pepper, drain off any excess liquid and combine with yogurt cheese, minced garlic, basil and mint. Add sea salt to taste. Chill several hours or overnight.

Blanch peas in boiling water 1 to 2 minutes, just until they turn bright green and remain crisp. Drain and plunge into ice water. Drain and pat dry.

Halve pea pods by slitting open along natural seam. Remove peas from inside pods and set aside for garnish.

Pipe or spoon about 1 teaspoon cheese filling into each pea pod half. Remaining cheese mixture may be served as dip. Garnish with whole peas. Arrange on platter and chill until serving time.

* Makes 72 hors d'oeuvres, or 12 servings.

Each serving contains about:

21 calories; 113 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 0 fat; 4 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams protein; 0.48 gram fiber.

* Makes 1 1/3 cups yogurt cheese.

Each teaspoon plain yogurt cheese contains about:

10 calories; 99 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 0 fat; 1 gram carbohydrates; 1 gram protein; 0 fiber.

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