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Land of Too Many Vegetables

September 05, 1996|MARION CUNNINGHAM

We all know California is a produce paradise. We have an abundance of berries, fruits and vegetables, and we cooks are indoctrinated with the philosophy of cooking with fresh everything.

But the reality of what we cook in our kitchens doesn't always follow the ideal. We shop with budgets, and many home cooks can manage to shop for groceries only once a week.

And we have to use our leftovers. Cooking at home includes relaying the remains of one meal into future meals and learning tricks like adding extra potatoes when baking or boiling them for later use in scrambled eggs or a salad.

Chefs operate on the "pick, fix and serve" system, but home cooks cannot. A good example of what I'm talking about centers on my local weekend farmers market. I always buy too much of whatever is in season when I go, and by Thursday of each week I must deal with the leftovers--which can mean either vegetables that are uncooked but terminal or cooked and nearing expiration.

TOMATO RAREBIT

Tomato rarebit is very old-fashioned, but try it. It will convince you that your ancestors really had good taste.

2 tomatoes, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1 cup milk, heated

1 1/2 cups (5 ounces) grated Cheddar cheese

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Salt

8 slices toast

Mix tomatoes and baking soda and set aside.

Melt butter in saucepan, stir in flour and cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Slowly pour in heated milk and stir until mixture is smooth and thick.

Add tomato mixture, cheese, eggs, mustard, cayenne pepper and salt to taste. Cook over very low heat, stirring until cheese melts and mixture is smooth and well blended. Serve hot over toast.

Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about:

409 calories; 646 mg sodium; 165 mg cholesterol; 23 grams fat; 31 grams carbohydrates; 19 grams protein; 0.26 gram fiber.

CUMIN RICE AND ZUCCHINI

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

3/4 cup sour cream

2 cups cooked rice

2 cups finely chopped cooked (or raw) zucchini

2 teaspoons salt, or to taste

1/2 cup shelled, toasted, salted sunflower seeds

Mix cumin thoroughly into sour cream. Combine sour cream, rice, zucchini, salt and sunflower seeds in casserole, cover and bake at 350 degrees until heated through, about 40 minutes. Alternatively, cook in skillet on stove, stirring occasionally.

Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about:

315 calories; 1,206 mg sodium; 19 mg cholesterol; 17 grams fat; 34 grams carbohydrates; 7 grams protein; 0.93 gram fiber.

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