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A Salad Buffet Party in the Garden

by Lou Seibert Pappas

For a summer party occasion, a salad buffet makes a festive easy way to entertain. Assemble two of the salads in the cool of the day and set them out with ease at the last minute. The third goes together quickly shortly beforehand. One salad platter features assorted vegetables, shrimp, scallops, and a green dressing. Pasta shells cloaked with goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes offer another pleasure. A fresh spinach salad with warm sausage and grapes is a refreshing counterpoint.

A Ferrari-Carano Fum» Blanc or a well-chilled California ros» would make fine companions. Consider a Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare or a Joseph Phelps Vin du Mistral. Another fine choice is Heitz Wine Cellars Grignolino Ros» . Warm focaccia, meringue cookies, and a refreshing ice make delightful complements.

Pistachio Aioli Salad Platter with Garden Vegetables and Seafood
makes 8 servings

1/4 cup mayonnaise
2/3 cup light-style sour cream or part yogurt
1/3 cup spinach leaves
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley
1-1/2 teaspoons fresh chopped tarragon or basil
1/4 cup roasted pistachio nuts
2 garlic cloves, minced
Squeeze lemon juice
Greens, such as mesclun
2 cups cherry tomatoes: red and gold
3/4 pound mushrooms, small
8 ounces green beans, cooked
1 pound large cooked shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/2 pound cooked scallops
1 bunch fennel, cut in wedges

In a blender or food processor combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, spinach, parsley, tarragon, pistachio nuts, garlic, and dash of lemon juice and blend until finely minced. Turn into a serving bowl. On a platter, make a bed of greens and arrange on top the tomatoes, mushrooms, beans, shrimp, scallops, and fennel. Pass the dressing.

Pasta Shells with Sun-Dried Tomatoes
makes 8 servings

12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) pasta shells
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 green onions, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried dill
2 teaspoons fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/3 cup minced fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
3/4 cup snipped sun-dried tomatoes, oil-packed
3/4 cup (3 ounces) crumbled goat cheese
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
Arugula or oak leaf lettuce

In a large pot of abundant boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente, about 12 minutes; drain, letting some liquid cling to the pasta. Let cool a few minutes. In a bowl, stir together the oil, lemon juice, onions, dill, oregano, and salt and pepper. Add the pasta and toss to coat. Stir in the parsley, tomatoes, and cheese. Chill. When ready to serve, sprinkle with nuts and tuck arugula or lettuce around the edge of the bowl.

Greens, Grapes, Sausage with Balsamic-Olive Oil Vinaigrette
makes 6 to 8 servings

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup Balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons white wine
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 bunches spinach, trimmed and leaves torn
2 cups red and green seedless grapes
4 warm, cooked low-fat chicken-apple or other specialty sausages, browned and sliced

Mix together in a bowl the mustard and vinegar and stir in wine, oil, salt, and pepper. When ready to serve, toss with spinach and top with grapes and sausage.

Herb Focaccia
makes 1 large loaf

1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (105 degrees F)
1 1/4 cups water, at room temperature
2 tablespoons sugar or honey
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil plus oil for brushing
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup wheat bran
3 tablespoon each fresh sage and rosemary, chopped

Sprinkle the yeast into warm water in a large mixing bowl; let stand until dissolved and puffy, about 10 minutes. Stir in the remaining water, sugar, and oil. Add 1 cup of the flour and the salt and mix until smooth. Mix in the remaining flours and bran, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough comes together. Add half the herbs. Knead until smooth and satiny, about 2 to 3 minutes. Place dough in a bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled, about 1-1/2 hours.

Punch down, turn out on a lightly floured board and knead to eliminate air bubbles. Roll out the dough to fit a 10-by-15-inch baking pan. Place in a greased pan and with fingers dimple dough and tuck in more herbs. Brush with olive oil. Cover and let rise until doubled. Preheat the oven to 425É F. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Daiquiri Ice with Kiwifruit
makes 8 servings

1 tablespoon freshly grated lime zest
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup lime juice
1/4 cup dark rum
4 kiwifruit

Mash the lime zest with 1/2 teaspoon of the sugar to bring out the essential oils. Combine the remaining sugar with water in a saucepan; bring to a boil and simmer just until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in the lime juice, rum, and peel. Pour into a shallow 9-inch pan and freeze until solid. Spoon into a food processor or electric mixer and process until light and fluffy. Transfer to a plastic container and freeze until firm. Serve in wine glasses and garnish with peeled and sliced kiwifruit.

Hazelnut Cocoa Meringues
makes about 3 dozen

3 egg whites, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/3 cup toasted ground hazelnuts

Preheat the oven to 350É F. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with the vanilla, cream of tartar, and salt until soft peaks form. Reserve 2 tablespoons sugar. Beat the remaining sugar into the egg whites, 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue beating until the meringue is stiff but still glossy. Combine the reserved sugar with cocoa and fold in gently. Fold in the nuts. Drop by tablespoons onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Place in the oven and immediately turn off the oven. Leave the meringues to dry for 2 hours, or until firm. Remove from pans and store in an airtight container.

Lou Seibert Pappas is a former food editor of the Palo Alto Times Tribune and a home economist with Sunset Magazine. She currently writes food, home, and travel-related articles for national magazines and newspapers and is the author of more than 30 books.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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