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Greet spring with a salad

By By Penny Randall / The Meridian Star
March 17, 2004
Spring has returned, and what a great feeling to enjoy warmer temperatures.
With spring also comes lighter meals. And salads are the on top of the menu for me.
One of my favorite spring salads is Allison Cottage's Pasta &Chicken Salad, a mixture of chicken, pasta and grapes.
The dish was first served to me by my mother-in-law on a family vacation in Seaside, Fla., and can be found in the cookbook "Seaside Pastels and Pickets."
It doesn't have lettuce, but instead pasta and chicken mixed with grapes and green onions. The salad is served cold on a lettuce leaf or with crackers. It's very filling and the grapes give it a fresh taste.
I love to experiment with salads. My favorite salad at a local eatery is topped with tangerines and coconut. We eat so much salad around my house, my husband usually buys two heads of lettuce a week.
But instead of the same old salad, try something new. Experiment with your lettuce; try romaine, iceberg and spinach. Toppings for salads don't have to be boring. Try adding mixed nuts, fresh fruit and seafood.
I'm a frequent watcher of The Food Network and recently noticed a new trend in salads. It's called escabche, which simply means a flavorful marinade that is added to cooked meat, poultry or seafood, then chilled for about an hour.
Once marinated, the ingredients can be tossed with salad greens or vegetables, rolled in a wrap or stuffed into a pita pocket. Because you're marinating already-cooked foods, the remaining marinade can be drizzled over the finished dish as a dressing.
Marinades are simple, also. Start with a base of vinegar, orange, lemon or lime juice, wine, rum, soy sauce, honey or vanilla extract. Next, add herbs, seasoning blends and spices such as garlic, pepper, ginger, oregano or basil.
Salads don't have to be boring. They can provide a healthy, fun, full-course meal.
Recipes sought
When writing about spring salads, I mentioned my favorite spring pasta salad recipe. This gave me an idea.
We would love to hear from readers who want to share their favorite recipes. It doesn't have to be a spring salad it could be your husband's favorite meat-and-potato dish or your grandchildren's favorite dessert.
Just make sure it's something you love to cook.
Submit your recipe with your name, day time phone number and a short paragraph about why you love to cook. The recipes will appear, starting soon, in this spot on the front of Connections.
Send the recipe to Penny Randall, The Meridian Star, P.O. Box 1591, Meridian, MS 39302. You also can send it by e-mail to prandall@themeridianstar.com or by fax to 485-1275.

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