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Hot Summer, the Days of Beef and Peaches

August 29, 1996|BEV BENNETT

Special, but light. Appetizing, but not overwhelming. Appealing, but effortless. . . . We ask for a lot from a summer entertaining menu, don't we?

A cold beef dish is my idea of an elegant yet easy to prepare entree. I started serving it when I noted how much everyone enjoyed cold beef tenderloin with an herb dressing at a catered party I attended. Guests like it because it isn't heavy; cooks like it because they can prepare the meat up to 24 hours in advance, when it's cool, and assemble it at the last minute.

In the following recipe for Italian beef salad, I marinate round steak in red wine and herbs, then broil it. Those who prefer grilling can marinate the whole piece of meat according to the recipe, grill it, adding a few minutes to the cooking time, then slice it into thin strips. Either way is fine.

Just before serving, combine the beef strips with vinegar, olive oil, onions, tomato and basil and garnish with a shaving of Parmesan cheese.

Dessert is just as simple and just as delightful. Saute fresh peach slices in butter, brown sugar and rum, then choose one of several delicious options: top the peach slices with mint-flavored yogurt, top frozen yogurt with the peach slices or just serve plain.

ITALIAN BEEF SALAD

1/2 pound round or flank steak

1/4 cup dry red wine

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary

1 clove garlic, crushed

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

1 green onion, diced (white and green parts)

1 large tomato, seeded and diced

1/2 cup basil, torn into bite-size pieces, optional

Salt

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Lettuce leaves

4 thin shavings Parmesan cheese

Slice meat 1/4 inch thick across grain (you can partially freeze meat to make slicing easier) and place in glass bowl. Add wine, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, rosemary, garlic and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Marinate up to 3 hours in refrigerator or 30 minutes at room temperature.

Remove meat from marinade and arrange on rack set over broiler pan. Broil until browned, 30 to 60 seconds. Flip meat over and broil second side until browned, about 30 seconds.

Place meat in bowl with red onion, green onion, tomato and basil. Combine salt to taste, red pepper flakes, black pepper, remaining 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in cup and stir well. Pour over salad and toss gently but well.

To serve, arrange lettuce leaves on 2 dinner plates. Top each with half of salad mixture. Arrange 2 cheese shavings over each salad. Serve at room temperature.

Makes 2 servings.

Each serving contains about:

389 calories; 319 mg sodium; 54 mg cholesterol; 27 grams fat; 10 grams carbohydrates; 23 grams protein; 0.77 gram fiber.

PEACHES OR NECTARINES IN BUTTERED RUM SAUCE

2 tablespoons butter

2 large unpeeled peaches or nectarines, sliced and pitted

1 tablespoon light brown sugar, packed

2 tablespoons dark rum

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon salt

Yogurt Topping or vanilla frozen yogurt or vanilla ice cream

Melt butter in skillet over medium heat. Add fruit slices and saute until tender and slightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle with brown sugar and saute 1 minute longer.

Pour on rum and cook over high heat 1 minute. If desired, ignite rum instead of cooking and allow alcohol to burn off. Stir in lemon juice and salt.

To serve, spoon fruit and sauce into 2 bowls. Top each with Yogurt Topping or place 2 scoops frozen yogurt into each of 2 bowls and spoon warm fruit slices and sauce on top. Serve immediately.

Makes 2 servings.

Each serving contains about:

189 calories; 266 mg sodium; 31 mg cholesterol; 12 grams fat; 14 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram protein; 0.56 gram fiber.

YOGURT TOPPING

1/4 cup plain yogurt

1 to 2 teaspoons honey

1 teaspoon minced fresh mint

Combine yogurt, honey and mint in cup, stirring well.

Makes about 1/4 cup.

Each tablespoon contains about:

18 calories; 13 mg sodium; 2 mg cholesterol; 1 grams fat; 3 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram protein; 0 fiber.

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