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Quick Salads & Main Dishes

Hurried day, too-full days, or lazy days call for ideas for quick, satisfying meals. Yet we want to give our families, and ourselves, healthy foods. Here are some ideas that work for us.

It’s conventional to serve the salad first, but chez Watkins we prefer the European method of serving the salad as an entremet between the main dish and the dessert, if any. A salad cleanses the palate and prepares it for the sweet successor. But a fruit salad often is our dessert. Later in the evening, we might have some sliced fresh fruit and yogurt or spray-on whipped cream, or slice and microwave a banana or two and top the slices with whipped cream or yogurt.

Three vegetables or fruits constitute an eye-pleasing, complete, and infinitely varied salad, quickly assembled. Vary quantities to fit the size of your family and number guests. Here are some ideas. Play with them.
Quickly construct your own variations on the three-ingredient theme. Lay down a base of chopped or torn greens or lettuce mixture and top it with vegetables, fruits, and/or pickles of some sort, or dried fruit. Try pickled garlic, pickled herring, sliced sweet gherkins, or tiny pickled onions with sliced or diced ripe tomatoes. Try dill beans or pickled sliced beets . Enhance a platter of diced apples or pears on lettuce with seedless grapes or halved pitted cherries, diced pineapple, sliced almonds, toasted sunflower seeds or mandarin orange slices.

Wash and dry the lettuce or other greens, then assemble the next two ingredients.

Salads of Three
Washed, dried, stemmed spinach; halved or sliced strawberries, thinly sliced red onion.
Bib lettuce, sliced fresh or canned peaches, blueberries or dried cranberries
Shredded romaine lettuce, sliced red ripe tomatoes sprinkled with a little sugar or Splenda®, diced red onion
Torn red lettuce, diced apple (dip in salt water prevent browning), thin-sliced celery, walnut halves or pieces
Torn or cut up green lettuce, or red lettuce, diced pear (wash, don’t peel), Gorgonzola or Blue Cheese crumbles
Lettuce mix from produce section, thin sliced sweet onion or green onion, sliced black olives
Chard leaves, cut or torn, diced apple, diced orange
Shredded cabbage, shredded carrot, and pineapple bits.

Practically Instant Peanut Sauce
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
Combine in food processor or blender:
1 cup hot water or liquid from blanching vegetables plus
1 teaspoon chicken granules
Handful coconut shreds
1 Tablespoon lemon or lime juice
1/ 1 Tablespoon dried onion flakes
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red curry paste, or 1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, or 1 sliced garlic clove
1/2 cup 100% pure creamy peanut butter

Process until ingredients are well blended. Taste and add little more curry powder or paste to suit your taste.
Thinned and extend with additional broth, coconut milk, vegetable cooking liquid, or hot water if desired.
Serve steamed or boiled vegetables, potato chunks, and sliced or quartered boiled egg or fried tofu cubes, or over steamed rice or vegetables or cubed whole-grain toast.

Vegetarian Fast Spaghetti Sauce
4 servings
2 Tablespoons canola or light olive oil
1 sweet onion, halves and cut pole-to-pole in ¼-inch slices
2 teaspoon Italian herbs
1 cup frozen edamame or green lima beans or canned or precooked kidney beans
1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced in 1/3 inch strips,
2 garlic cloves, sliced or minced, optional
1 jar Newman’s Spaghetti Sauce, or 1 can Hunts
½ to 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Black olives, optional
Grated cheese
Thaw frozen beans by putting them in a glass measuring cup and pouring boiling or very hot water over them.
Prepare the vegetables.

Heat oil in a large skillet or wok. Add onion. Sprinkle with Italian herbs Stir fry until glossy and semi-transparent. Add beans. Add green pepper and garlic. Stir fry 5 minutes. Add the spaghetti sauce. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat. Simmer until thawed beans are tender or canned beans heated through. Stir in olives if using.
Serve over cooked, drained pasta you’ve tossed with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Pass the grated cheese.