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Make takeout favorites at home

(ran NP edition)

"Takeout tonight" is a familiar refrain, given the busy lives most people lead. It's one solution for dinner at the end of a hectic day _ but there may be a better way to interpret the concept, especially if you want to eat for health and avoid putting on weight.

How about easy recipes for making your takeout favorites at home? A new cookbook collection, Weightwatchers Take-Out Tonight! (Fireside, 2003, $13.95 paperback), offers some 150 restaurant-type dishes that the home cook can make, many shown in color photos.

The recipes are reworked to provide portions, fat content and calorie amounts that won't make eating a guilty pleasure.

Recipes sound familiar: jumbo muffins, chowder, tuna melts and Reuben sandwiches from the deli menu, plus Chinese, Mexican and Italian classics _ not forgetting Indian spice and Japanese rice-and-sushi specials.

From the Greek cuisine, there's a lamb souvlaki with rice to make at home that can more than rival the takeout version because it's still packed with flavor, but it cuts fat and calories.

Note: Once you've done the marinating, it's a matter of minutes to broil the savory skewers.

Lamb Souvlaki With Rice

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried oregano

{ teaspoon dried thyme

1{ pounds boneless leg of lamb, trimmed of all visible fat, cut into 30 cubes

2 small red onions, root end left intact and cut into 6 wedges each

1 large green bell pepper, seeded and cut into 12 pieces

{ teaspoon salt

[ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

} cup long-grain white rice, cooked according to package

To make the marinade: Combine the oil, garlic, oregano and thyme in a large zip-close plastic bag; mix well. Add the lamb, seal the bag and turn several times to coat. Marinate the lamb at room temperature 30 minutes or refrigerate overnight.

Preheat broiler. Spray a broiler pan with nonstick spray; set aside.

Thread 5 lamb cubes, 2 onion wedges and 2 bell pepper pieces onto each of six 12-inch metal skewers, alternating the ingredients. Transfer skewers to the broiler pan.

Broil the skewers 4 inches from the heat, turning at least once, until the vegetables are tender and the lamb is cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Serve with the rice.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information per serving (1 skewer with \ cup rice): 291 cal., 9 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 73 mg chol., 252 mg sodium, 25 g carbo., 1 g fiber, 26 g pro.

Source: "Weightwatchers Take-Out Tonight!"