Main Dish Salads Are Fresh And Fabulous

IN THE KITCHEN

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Taste bud-tingling beef salads feature favorite flavors and easy preparation, plus, they're a nutrition powerhouse. They are an excellent source of protein, niacin, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12 and zinc -- and a good or excellent source of iron and fiber.

Thai Beef and Cucumber Salad

Total preparation and cooking time: 45 minutes. Marinating time: 30 minutes to 2 hours

1 pound beef top round steak or 1 pound beef shoulder center steaks (Ranch Steaks), cut 3/4 inch thick

1 English or hothouse cucumber, cut lengthwise in half, then crosswise into thin slices

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 cup halved grape tomatoes

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons chopped unsalted dry-roasted peanuts

Beef Marinade:

1/3 cup reduced sodium soy sauce

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

1 teaspoon minced garlic

Cucumber Marinade:

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Cut beef steak lengthwise in half, then crosswise into 1/8-inch thick strips. Combine beef marinade ingredients in large bowl. Add beef; toss to coat. Cover and marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Whisk cucumber marinade ingredients in medium bowl until sugar is dissolved. Stir in cucumber. Cover and marinate in refrigerator 20 to 30 minutes. Drain cucumber in colander; discard marinade. Set aside.

Remove steak from marinade; discard marinade. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add 1/2 of beef; stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes or until outside surface of beef is no longer pink. (Do not overcook.) Remove from skillet. Repeat with remaining beef.

Toss cucumber, tomatoes, cilantro and peanuts in large bowl. Divide evenly among 4 plates. Arrange steak slices over salad.

Makes four servings with 281 calories when beef top round used.

Samba Beef Salad

Total preparation and cooking time: 30 minutes. Marinating time: 30 minutes to 2 hours

2 beef shoulder center steaks (Ranch Steaks), cut 3/4 inch thick (8 ounces each) or 1 boneless beef top sirloin steak, cut 3/4 inch thick (1 pound)

Salt

1 package (5 ounces) mixed salad greens (6 cups)

1 cup sweetened dried cranberries or cherries

1/4 cup pepitas, toasted

1/4 cup prepared tomatillo salsa

2 tablespoons crumbled queso fresco cheese or crumbled goat cheese

Dressing:

2/3 cup fresh orange juice

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 to 2 minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon coarse grind black pepper

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon salt

Whisk dressing ingredients in small bowl. Place beef steaks and 2/3 cup dressing in food-safe plastic bag; turn steaks to coat. Close bag securely and marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes to 2 hours, turning occasionally. Cover and reserve remaining dressing in refrigerator.

Remove steaks from marinade; discard marinade. Place steaks on grid over medium, ash-covered coals. Grill, covered, 9 to 11 minutes for medium rare to medium doneness (top sirloin steak, 13 to 16 minutes for medium rare to medium doneness), turning once. Carve steaks into thin slices; season with salt, as desired.

Toss greens with cranberries, pepitas and reserved dressing. Divide greens evenly among 4 plates. Arrange steak slices over greens. Spoon salsa over steak slices; sprinkle with cheese.

Makes four servings with 376 calories each.

Pepita is the Mexican term for a hulled pumpkin seed. Dark-green pepitas have a delicate flavor that is even better when toasted. To toast pepitas, heat in ungreased skillet over medium heat until lightly browned, stirring constantly. Toasted pine nuts may be substituted for pepitas.

Italian Beef and Fennel Salad

Total preparation and cooking time: 1 hour

2 boneless beef top loin (strip) steaks, cut 3/4 inch thick (8 ounces each) or 1 boneless beef top sirloin steak, cut 3/4 inch thick (1 pound)

2 medium red bell peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces

8 ounces asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces

2 cups uncooked whole-wheat spiral pasta

1 large fennel bulb

1 cup thinly sliced red onion

1 teaspoon garlic-pepper seasoning

Vinaigrette:

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Place bell peppers and asparagus on metal baking pan; spray vegetables with nonstick cooking spray. Roast in 425 degrees oven 20 to 25 minutes or until tender. Set aside; cool. Whisk vinaigrette ingredients in small bowl until blended. Set aside.

Meanwhile cook pasta according to package directions, omitting oil and salt; drain. Set aside; cool. Remove feathery tops from fennel bulb, reserving several for garnish, if desired. Trim and discard fennel stalks from bulb. Cut bulb lengthwise into quarters; remove and discard core. Thinly slice fennel quarters lengthwise. Place sliced fennel, pasta and onion in large bowl. Set aside.

Press garlic-pepper seasoning evenly onto beef steaks. Heat large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Place top loin steaks in skillet; cook 10 to 12 minutes for medium rare to medium doneness (top sirloin steak, 10 to 13 minutes for medium rare to medium doneness), turning once.

Carve steak into thin slices. Add steak slices and roasted vegetables to pasta mixture; toss to coat evenly with vinaigrette. Garnish with reserved fennel tops, if desired.

Makes four servings.

The recently released 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourage making smart food choices from every food group. Beef main dish salads are a delicious way to add a variety of naturally nutrient-rich foods to your meals at home.

  • Nutrient-rich salad ingredients include colorful fruits and vegetables (the deeper the color, the richer in nutrients); whole grains such as whole wheat pasta or brown rice; and non or lowfat dairy products.
  • Lean beef choices are perfect for salads. There are 19 cuts that meet government guidelines for lean such as these favorite steaks: top loin, top sirloin, tenderloin,

T-bone and top round. Beef also provides essential nutrients including zinc, iron, protein, niacin and vitamins B-6 and B-12.

  • Recipes aren't even necessary. A delicious beef salad can be as easy as tossing fresh cut-up vegetables (bell peppers, carrots, mushrooms, red onion), toasted walnuts or almonds and shredded Parmesan cheese with packaged salad greens. Top with strips of cooked lean beef and drizzle with a favorite vinaigrette or a prepared salad dressing. Serve with a whole grain roll.

For additional recipes and nutrition information including the 19 lean beef cuts, visit www.BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com.

To order a copy of the new 36-page booklet, Fast & Flavorful Beef: Heart-Healthy Recipes, mail a check for $1.00 to cover shipping and handling (made payable to National Cattlemen's Beef Association), to National Cattlemen's Beef Association, Dept. FC-AHA, P.O. Box 670, Bloomingdale, IL 60108. Include your mailing address.

From Family Features Editorial Syndicate

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