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Good tasting, good for you

Sometimes, it seems as though nutritionists don't care how bad food tastes as long as it's good for you, while chefs and food writers don't care how bad food is for you as long as it tastes good. One of the few cooking precepts these warring food factions seem to agree on is "fresh is best" because the vitamins promoted by nutritionists are at their peak in just-picked fruits and vegetables. So, too,is the flavor so treasured by good cooks.

If you feel caught between good health and good taste, relax and enjoy a healthful, yet flavor-packed, meatless dinner of Lemony Potato Salad and Green Beans with piping hot wedges of Onion Shortcake.

You will find the ingredients at your nearest farm market. While you're there, pick up some sweet onions, like Vidalias or great big white Texas sweets or Walla Wallas, fleetingly available for savoring raw in salads and sandwiches or sauteeing to spread over a big biscuit under a tangy topping of yogurt and poppy seeds.

Lemony Potato Salad and Green Beans goes well with grilled or roast chicken and makes a grand covered dish for a communal picnic provided you double the recipe. It's also low in fat, with a mere 1{ teaspoons of olive oil per entree serving. A flavorful splash of white wine (or chicken broth), lemon juice and rind replace the usual fat-heavy dressing.

Onion Shortcake, made quickly with biscuit mix, is almost as good cold as it is hot. Try it for Sunday brunch, possibly with nova or lox alongside, or pack it into a brown bag lunch with a salad of whatever is freshest from your refrigerator garden.

Frances Price is a dietitian and chef who writes and cooks in Baltimore. She welcomes letters on cooking. If you wish a reply, please send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Frances Price, Cooking For One, c/o Food Section, the Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.

Lemony Potato Salad and Green Beans

1 tablespoon each olive oil and lemon juice

1 tablespoon white wine OR chicken broth

{ teaspoon each grated lemon rind and Dijon mustard

\ teaspoon salt

[ teaspoon black pepper

8 ounces new potatoes, scrubbed

8 ounces tender young green beans

2 tablespoons chopped sweet onion (Vidalia, Texas white or Walla Walla)

Whisk together the oil, lemon juice, wine, lemon rind, mustard, salt and pepper; set aside.

Cook potatoes in boiling water to cover until tender, immediately drain and cut into inch-square cubes, using a folded clean dish towel to insulate your hand from the heat.

Toss potatoes while piping hot with the oil-lemon dressing; let stand to soak up liquids.

Meanwhile, snap stem ends from green beans; leave small beans whole, snap larger beans in half or thirds, to make 1{ to 2-inch lengths.

Steam or blanch beans till done to your liking; drain well and toss with potatoes; add onion and toss again.

Serve salad at room temperature or cover and refrigerate to serve chilled.

Makes two entree or four side dish servings.

Hands on and cooking times: 30 minutes.

Nutrients per entree serving: 209 calories, 4 gm. protein, 34 gm. carbohydrate, 7 gm. fat, 0 mg. cholesterol, 278 mg. sodium.

Onion Shortcake

2 teaspoons butter or margarine

1 cup coarsely chopped onions

\ teaspoon sugar (to help brown onions)

\ teaspoon salt

Black pepper to taste

Pinch of thyme

1 cup biscuit mix

\ cup milk

1 egg white OR yolk

cup low-fat yogurt or sour cream

1 teaspoon poppy seeds (optional)

Melt butter in nonstick skillet over medium heat; add onions and sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in salt, pepper and thyme; set aside to cool. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In mixing bowl, stir biscuit mix with milk to make stiff dough.

With back of mixing spoon, press dough evenly into 8-inch skillet with metal handle or cake pan (or pat dough into an 8-inch circle in a larger skillet or pan). Spread sauteed onions evenly over dough.

In small bowl, beat egg white until foamy throughout, then beat in yogurt and poppy seeds.

Pour evenly over onions and bake 15-20 minutes or until biscuit is well-browned on bottom and yogurt topping is set and lightly browned.

Cool 5 minutes, cut into wedges and serve warm. Makes four wedges. Hands-on time: 15 minutes. Baking time: 15-20 minutes.

Nutrients per wedge: 181 calories, 5 gm. protein, 22 gm. carbohydrate, 9 gm. fat, 7 mg. cholesterol, 459 mg. sodium.