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Refreshing Accents for Summer Tables

July 24, 2002|ABBY MANDEL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

These condiment side dishes quickly and creatively dress up casual meals. They're great with cold cuts and grilled meat, poultry and fish. The serving is easy--just spoon them right onto your dinner plate.

The dishes draw on the seasonal market and produce bin, and that's what makes them so inviting. Be sure to choose ingredients of top quality. Explore your farmers market or produce aisle for the best of the season.

Take any of these to a summer potluck. The mushroom condiment dish is especially suited to grilled steaks and hamburgers. The carrot and beet slaw is a salad that I made long ago with James Beard; it's crunchy, refreshing and tasty. No cooking required, as beets are delicious raw. And for the vegetable relish, an array of cut-up vegetables--cucumber, tomatoes and radishes, tossed with a piquant dressing and fresh basil--can hold its own beside any summer salad.

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Fresh Vegetable Relish With Basil

Active Work and Total Preparation Time: 15 minutes * Vegetarian

Serve chilled or at room temperature. If making ahead, add the basil leaves just before serving.

1 small English cucumber, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 2 cups)

1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved (about 1 cup)

1/4 cup thinly sliced mild radishes

3 tablespoons minced red onion

3 tablespoons thinly sliced basil leaves

2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper

Place the cucumber, tomatoes, radishes, onion and basil in a bowl. Combine the vinegar, oil, sugar, salt and pepper to taste in a small dish. Add to the vegetables. Use your hands to toss until well mixed. (This can be made several hours ahead and refrigerated. Before serving, toss well, drain off excess liquid and toss in basil leaves. Taste; adjust seasoning.)

4 to 6 servings. Each of 6 servings: 38 calories; 202 mg. sodium; 0 cholesterol; 2 grams fat; 0 grams saturated fat; 4 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram protein; 0.87 gram fiber.

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Sliced Mushroom Relish With Bacon and Chives

Active Work and Total Preparation Time: 20 minutes plus 30 minutes standing

4 thick slices bacon

1/2 cup olive oil

3 cloves garlic, halved

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 pound white mushrooms, stems trimmed, thinly sliced (about 6 1/2 cups)

1/4 cup snipped chives

Cook the bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until crisp, about 4 minutes. Transfer to paper towels and blot dry. When cool enough to handle, crumble into small pieces. You'll have about 1/3 cup; set aside. Drain the fat from the pan.

Add the olive oil and garlic to the pan. Cook until the cloves sizzle but do not brown, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Let cool 5 minutes. Use tongs to remove the garlic and discard.

Stir the lemon juice, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste into the oil. Place the mushrooms in a large bowl. Pour the oil mixture over the mushrooms; use your hands to gently toss slices until well mixed. Toss in the chives. Let rest at least 1/2 hour before serving or refrigerate up to 4 hours.

To serve, gently toss in the reserved bacon. Taste; adjust seasoning. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

8 servings. Each serving: 157 calories; 206 mg. sodium; 3 mg. cholesterol; 15 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 3 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams protein; 0.77 gram fiber.

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Beet and Carrot 'Slaw' With Honey and Cinnamon

Active Work and Total Preparation Time: 20 minutes * Vegetarian

A food processor makes quick work of this slaw.

1 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled, cut into 2 1/2-inch lengths

2 beets (about 1/2 pound), peeled, cut into pieces to fit feed tube

1/4 cup oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper

Using the shredder attachment of the food processor, fill the feed tube with the carrots stacked horizontally and process to make long shreds. Transfer the carrots to a large bowl. Shred the beets and add to the bowl. Combine the oil, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, honey, cinnamon, salt and pepper to taste in a small dish. Pour over the vegetables. Toss well. Taste; adjust seasoning.

12 to 14 servings. Each of 14 servings: 67 calories; 112 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 4 grams fat; 0 saturated fat; 8 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram protein; 1.79 grams fiber.

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