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Keep the salad course

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In this story:

Spinach and Red Onion Salad

Mango Chicken

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(Los Angeles Times Syndicate) -- According to trend-watcher Harry Balzer, we Americans are giving up on side dishes. We'd like to spend 20 minutes, tops, preparing dinner, says Balzer, who studies consumers' eating habits for the NPD Group, a marketing information company in Port Washington, New York.

I wouldn't question Balzer's data, but I would urge you to keep the salad course. You can make a great salad in five minutes or less and that's time well spent. The salad below goes well with Mango Chicken that is pepped up with jalapeno chile.

Thanks to the availability of packaged salad greens, a lot of the tedious steps in salad-making have been eliminated. Many greens are prewashed. The label will indicate that. The packages contain baby leaves you don't have to tear into bite-size pieces. And food companies mix assortments of greens so you don't have to shop for a variety of salad textures or flavors.

The obvious pay-off is nutrition. A green salad provides vitamin A, folic acid and dietary fiber that you might not otherwise get in your dinner. You'll also get a dish with interesting and satisfying flavors and textures. What's more, you'll have an excuse to linger over dinner with your partner, which is more valuable than a 20-minute preparation deadline.

Spinach and Red Onion Salad

  • 3 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 1/4 cup thin strips red onion
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds

    In salad bowl, toss together spinach and onion.

    In cup, stir together honey, mustard, vinegar, canola and olive oils and pepper.

    Spoon over spinach just before serving. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

    Makes 2 servings.

    Mango Chicken

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 jalapeno chile, cored, seeded and minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • Salt, pepper
  • 1 large mango, peeled, pitted and sliced into long 1/2-inch-thick strips
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onions, green part only
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked rice

    Heat oil in 10-inch nonstick skillet. Add shallot, garlic, jalapeno chile and ginger and saute over medium-low heat 2 minutes.

    Dust chicken thighs with flour. Add to skillet and brown on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Push chicken aside.

    Add wine to skillet and scrape up browned bits in bottom of skillet. Add chicken broth and stir well.

    Cover skillet and simmer 10 minutes. Remove cover. Turn chicken over and simmer until tender, 5 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in mango strips and green onions and heat through, about 5 minutes.

    To serve, spoon cooked rice onto 2 plates. Top each with half of chicken and sauce.

    Makes 2 servings.

    (Bev Bennett is the author of four cookbooks including the award-winning "Dinner for Two," Barron's.)

    (c) 2000, Bev Bennett. Distributed by the Los Angeles Times Syndicate.



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