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FAMILY FEATURES EDITORIAL SYNDICATE



Published: Wed, July 6, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



FAMILY FEATURES EDITORIAL SYNDICATE

When it's summertime and the livin' is easy, we all look forward to cool and casual meals with friends and family. The days are longer, the weather is hotter, and we want dishes that are easy to make and wonderful to eat.

No wonder savory and versatile salads are such a favorite summertime hit -- from delicious pasta salads to fresh fruit and vegetable medleys. They're satisfying side dishes or well-suited for the main entr & eacute;e, depending on the occasion and the whim of the cook. Pasta salads are perfect for family gatherings or potluck dinners because they appeal to almost everyone. For picnics or backyard barbecues, pasta salads can be made ahead of time and served chilled or offered alongside vegetables, burgers, steaks or chicken hot off the grill.

It's easy to keep your cool with recipes like these. Garlic Beef Bruschetta, an easy-to-make summer recipe that won't require heating up the kitchen, delivers favorite Italian flavors. Serve as an appetizer or pair with a pasta salad for a fast, delicious meal. And what better drink to serve on a hot day than a tall, icy glass of Lemonade Tea garnished with a fresh mint sprig?

ANTIPASTO PASTA

SALAD

It's pasta, salami, cheese and peppers -- everything you love about cool antipasto appetizers in a hearty, flavorful pasta salad!

1 box (8.3 ounces) Betty Crocker Suddenly Salad Creamy Italian pasta salad mix

Mayonnaise as called for on package directions

1 cup 1/4-inch strips salami

1 cup 1/4-inch strips provolone cheese

1 cup 1/4-inch strips red bell pepper (1 medium)

Make pasta salad as directed on package. Stir in remaining ingredients. Refrigerate at least 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate any remaining salad.

Makes 4 servings.

LEMONADE TEA

When served in restaurants, this half-lemonade, half-iced tea beverage is often called an "Arnold Palmer."

2 cans (12 ounces each) frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed

3 quarts iced tea Fresh mint sprigs, if desired

Make lemonade as directed on can, using punch bowl or large container. Stir in tea.

Serve over ice. Garnish with mint.

Makes 4 servings.

CALIFORNIA BLT SALAD

Turn a classic sandwich into a deli-cious salad.

1 box (7.5 ounces) Betty Crocker Suddenly Salad Ranch & amp; Bacon pasta salad mix

Mayonnaise as called for on package directions

1 large tomato, cut into wedges

1 avocado, pitted, peeled and cut into wedges

1 bag (10 ounces) ready-to-eat American blend salad greens (iceberg lettuce, romaine, red cabbage, carrots and radishes)

Make pasta salad as directed on package. Stir in remaining ingredients. Refrigerate at least 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate any remaining salad.

Makes 4 servings.

GARLIC BEEF BRUSCHETTA

A few easy ingredients on toasted French bread spells yum for a quick-fix potluck or picnic appetizer.

1 loaf French bread, cut into thirty 1/4- to 1/2-inch slices

2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil

1/2 cup soft cream cheese with roasted garlic

8 ounces thinly sliced cooked deli roast beef

1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper

4 Roma (plum) tomatoes, thinly sliced

8 medium green onions, sliced (1/2 cup)

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Brush both sides of bread slices with oil. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake about 5 minutes or until crisp. Cool 5 minutes.

Spread cream cheese over each slice. Top with beef; sprinkle with pepper. Top each with tomato slice and onions.

Makes 30 appetizers.

It's easy to create a pasta salad with your own personal touch. Start with a pasta salad mix and stir in your favorite ingredients. For a mouthwatering, main dish salad, add protein in the form of cheese, grilled chicken, bacon or ham and lots of fresh vegetables for color and flavor. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until dinner is ready. You'll know you have a hit when you take home that empty salad bowl -- or get lots of requests for the recipe! Here are a few creative ideas to get you started:

UGrilled vegetables, cherry tomatoes and Parmesan cheese

USliced avocado and crisp, crumbled bacon

UFeta cheese, black olives, cherry tomatoes and sliced cucumber

UChopped fresh vegetables, black beans and shredded Monterey Jack cheese

URoasted red pepper from a jar, black olives and fresh basil.




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