- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Maybe spring greens are not yet bursting out in your back yard, but if your winter-weary palate craves something fresh and tasty, asparagus and green cabbage are on the market and are among ingredients in these three recipes for salads mildly sparked with green pepper sauce.

The salads are light enough to serve as side dishes for a hearty St. Patrick’s-themed meat-and-potatoes meal.

They also are filling enough for a tasty lunch with a cup of soup, whole-grain bread and crackers or chips, especially if you combine two or three salads.

Lentils are a favorite vegetarian ingredient, especially during Lent, with a robust nutritional value, but this green lentil salad has its own refreshing tang, brightened with a touch of lemon juice and herbs.

The following recipes are from Tabasco.

Lentil confetti salad

1 cup French green lentils

13-3/4-ounce can chicken broth

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium celery stalks, diced

2 small carrots, peeled and diced

1 small red onion, diced

2 tablespoons green pepper sauce

1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1/2; teaspoon dried thyme

1 pint cherry tomatoes, each cut in half

Pick over lentils, discarding any stones; rinse well in strainer.

Bring lentils and chicken broth to boil over high heat in 2-quart saucepan.

Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 20 minutes or until lentils are tender. Drain, if necessary.

Meanwhile, saute celery, carrots and red onion in 1 tablespoon olive oil for 5 minutes or until crisp-tender.

Gently toss warm lentils with sauteed vegetables, green pepper sauce, lemon juice, thyme, cherry tomatoes and remaining olive oil; toss to mix well. Let stand 1 hour to blend flavors.

Makes 6 servings.

Spicy asparagus salad

1/4; cup olive oil

2 tablespoons white wine

2 tablespoons green pepper sauce

1/2; teaspoon salt

2 bunches asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces

1 large leek, sliced

1 cup mushrooms, sliced

1 yellow, orange or red bell pepper, cut into thin strips

2 tablespoons shaved Parmesan or pecorino cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine olive oil, white wine, green pepper sauce and salt in cup. Combine asparagus, leek, mushrooms, bell pepper, and half of olive-oil mixture in large roasting pan; toss to mix well. Roast vegetables 20 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven; toss with remaining olive-oil mixture.

The salad is best served immediately, warm and sprinkled with cheese, but at room temperature is also fine, as desired. Makes 6 servings.

Zesty cabbage salad

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

10 cups shredded savoy cabbage

2 cups snow peas, cut lengthwise in half

1 cup julienne-cut carrots

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons green pepper sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Heat vegetable oil in 12-inch skillet. Cook cabbage 5 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Add snow peas, carrots and salt. Cook another 5 minutes until vegetables are crisp-tender, stirring frequently. Stir in green pepper sauce, olive oil, sesame oil and Dijon mustard; toss to mix well.

Let stand 1 hour to blend flavors. Makes 6 servings.

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