- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Squeezing into last year’s swimsuit, I came to the uncomfortable conclusion that I needed to lighten up — my summer meals, that is.

I could eat fried chicken and potato salad just about any night in July. Barbecued ribs, corn slathered with butter and peach cobbler, too. You get the picture.

Summer is here, though, and swimsuits are a necessary evil, so my meals need to be healthy as well as delicious. For that tall order, spinach salad is just the recipe.

This salad is topped with apple slices, green onions and raisins. You could just as easily use mandarin oranges or peach slices, and red onion and dried cranberries.

Then it is dressed with a poppy seed dressing, which is sold in many supermarkets. If you cannot find it, just sweeten Italian dressing with honey and add a sprinkling of poppy seeds.

Pair this salad with grilled fish or chicken, some oven-roasted potatoes and a light dessert of frozen yogurt and fresh berries, and you have a satisfying supper that is good for you, too.

Five time-shaving ways to use spinach right from the bag

• Sear or grill a fillet of fresh salmon quickly on both sides. Place on top of a bed of fresh spinach leaves in a roasting pan, season as desired, then bake in a 400-degree oven until salmon is done and spinach has wilted, 8 to 10 minutes.

• Toss spinach and shredded Gruyere cheese into your favorite omelet or frittata.

• Saute spinach with garlic in olive oil until soft; add a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of salt when done.

m Place the leaves under fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil, and drizzle with olive oil.

m Place spinach underneath warm, sliced roasted chicken and top with a chunky tomato sauce.

Spinach salad

The preparation time is 15 minutes.

1 bag (6 ounces) fresh spinach

1 cup fresh apple slices (from 2 apples)

1/4 cup chopped green onion

2 tablespoons white raisins

cup bottled poppy seed salad dressing

Place the spinach in a large serving bowl. Scatter the apple slices on top of the spinach. Add the green onion. Scatter the raisins on top. Pour the dressing over the salad, toss gently and serve. Makes 4 servings.


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