- The Washington Times - Monday, February 16, 2004

If you think ketchup and fries are the only true burger accompaniments, think again. You’ll find a wealth of delicious vegetables that are excellent sides to meat.

By increasing the proportion of vegetables on your plate, you’re not only getting more flavor and color, but you’re getting healthful nutrients, as well.

And by rearranging your portion priorities, you can satisfy your appetite with a smaller piece of high-fat meat.

Health experts recommend you fill half your dinner plate with vegetables, a quarter with a starch and a quarter with a protein food. Using this formula, you can develop dinner menus in a tempting range of flavors and textures.

Replace predictable potatoes with pasta, rice or couscous. Skip the red stuff, and serve a burger topped with sauteed vegetables to add flavor and color.

Once you get past the notion that ketchup and fries are essential, you’ll have fun finding new ways to balance a burger.

For example, use Asian buckwheat noodles tossed with scallions and thin carrot strips as the starch and stir-fried broccoli as the vegetable. Or prepare a Middle Eastern-inspired dinner of couscous salad with a sauteed zucchini topper.

Substitute lamb for ground beef, and you have a marvelous and exotic dinner.

Couscous salad

½ teaspoon salt, divided

3/4 cup instant couscous

¼ cup sliced, pitted Kalamata olives

1 large celery stalk, diced

1 medium tomato, cored and diced

2 tablespoons minced chives

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

¼ teaspoon pepper

Combine 1 cup water and ¼ teaspoon salt in a small pot. Bring to a boil. Stir in couscous. Cover and remove from heat. Set aside 5 minutes.

Fluff with a fork and place in serving bowl. Add olives, celery, tomato and chives. Combine oil, vinegar, remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper in a cup. Stir. Pour over couscous. Toss to coat. Set aside 5 minutes for flavors to blend. Makes 2 servings.

Zucchini and lamb

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large diced zucchini

1 red onion, thinly sliced

¼ teaspoon crushed, dried oregano

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

½ to 1 teaspoon sugar, optional

½ teaspoon salt, divided

½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided

½ pound ground lamb

Heat oil in large skillet. Add zucchini and onion. Sprinkle with oregano. Saute 3 minutes or until vegetables are limp and tender. Add vinegar. Taste zucchini. If it’s slightly bitter (as zucchini is sometimes), add sugar to taste.

Stir in ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Simmer 5 minutes or until vegetables are browned and flavors blended. Remove from skillet and keep warm.

Form lamb into 2 patties. Season with remaining ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Ease into skillet. Cook 5 minutes on first side and 3 minutes on second side or until cooked through. Serve lamb with zucchini. Makes 2 servings.


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