- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 5, 2005

During the summer, it’s common to develop a cooking aversion, an overwhelming urge to be anywhere but in the kitchen. And who could blame you? The days are long, the weather’s great, and you have plans for fun.

But you can’t exist on lemonade and wine spritzers. At some point, you will need refueling. Then, you’ll want simple and quick meals that also provide nourishment.

You’ll have access to that and more if you develop a repertoire of spreads and sandwich toppings. Blend together vegetables and cheese, and spread it on a large bread slice for an open-face sandwich you can assemble in minutes.

You can create a light dinner or picnic fare. For example, prepare an outdoor lunch for your workplace. Make a spread of watercress, scallion and goat cheese. Pack the peppery mixture in a container and add crackers or a large bread slice, as well as endive leaves and baby carrots for dipping in the watercress mixture.

Instead of a time-consuming dinner menu, try bruschetta, which in this version is a glorified open-face sandwich of tomato, shallot and blue cheese, spread over crusty bread and broiled.

Watercress spread

1/3 cup watercress leaves

1/3 cup chopped scallion

4 ounces soft-style goat cheese

2 tablespoons milk

2 large slices Italian bread

Vegetables for dipping, optional

Combine watercress, scallion, goat cheese and milk in a blender. Blend until consistency is creamy. Spread half of mixture generously on each bread slice. Serve with vegetables for dipping, if desired. Makes 2 servings.

Tomato-shallot bruschetta

1-inch thick slice country bread, about 8 inches long

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 large shallot, peeled and finely chopped

1 large plum tomato, cored and finely chopped

½ cup crumbled blue cheese (about 2 ounces)

1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Place bread slice in broiler 4 inches away from heat. Broil until lightly toasted, about 30 seconds. (If desired, brown on preheated grill instead). Set aside.

Heat oil in small skillet. Add shallot; saute for 2 minutes or until tender. Spread shallot and any remaining oil over bread.Combine tomato, blue cheese and pepper in a bowl. Sprinkle over bread. Broil for 30 seconds or just until cheese melts and topping is hot. (If desired, cook on preheated grill instead.) Cut in half.

Makes 2 servings as a light lunch.


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