Deviled Eggs with Style
Bowtie Pasta and Chickpea Salad with Vegetables and Fresh Herbs

On a hot summer day, turn the essence of bouillabaisse, the beloved Provencal fish soup, into a cool entree. Matching seafood with the soup's traditional flavors -- saffron, tomatoes, garlic and olive oil -- makes for a superb salad that captures the soul of the French Riviera.

You can do the same with the popular thick Italian soup of pasta and beans known as pasta e fagioli. Toss the soup's usual cooked pasta shells and white beans with lightly cooked green beans, diced garden tomatoes and fresh Mediterranean herbs, moisten them with extra virgin olive oil, and you have a lively pasta and bean salad. For a cool Spanish creation, make a paella salad by taking the components of the celebrated casserole -- seafood, chicken and saffron rice -- and mixing them with cooked peas, grilled sweet peppers, ripe tomatoes and a light vinaigrette.

Many other classic entrees can be transformed easily into refreshing warm-weather dishes. All you need to do is add a colorful selection of raw or lightly cooked fresh vegetables. Minimize the proportion of rich meats or of enrichment butter, and moisten the dish with a light, oil-based dressing. Instead of stewing the elements in a thick sauce or simmering them at length in a soup that heats up the kitchen, cook the salad ingredients briefly so they are just cooked through. To lighten further, serve these medleys on a bed of fresh, crisp lettuce or baby greens.

French chef Pierre Gagnaire, author of "La Cuisine Immediate," converts even a beef shank and cabbage stew into a light and flavorful summer salad. He slices the poached beef and dresses it up with the lively flavors of capers, cornichons (small French pickled cucumbers), sliced onions and vinaigrette flavored with white wine as well as vinegar and hazelnut oil. Next he tosses the well-seasoned beef with thin, crunchy strips of tender cabbage, lightly cooked fresh peas and baby carrots, and garnishes the salad with chopped hard-boiled eggs, chives and toasted pine nuts.

You can treat coq au vin, or French chicken in a red wine sauce, in a similar way, by marinating slices of roast chicken in a thyme-accented red wine vinaigrette, and serving them over baby greens with fresh mushrooms and red onions.

Parisian chef Gerard Besson turns a warm seafood and mushroom stew into an elegant salad. He combines sliced, freshly poached lobster and prawns with a little duck confit, white mushrooms slices and a dressing of olive oil and wine vinegar. The salad is served on a colorful bed of greens -- bright green frisee and deep red radicchio, and garnished with slices of black truffle.

American specialties like Louisiana jambalaya also can make fine, filling salads. Done the traditional way, jambalaya is a warming, hearty blend of sausages, rice and seafood, redolent of hot pepper sauce. The dish can be lightened and made into a salad by combining its ingredients with a colorful mix of vegetables such as fresh corn and steamed chayote squash, a vegetable popular in New Orleans and known there as mirliton. Spooned over a bed of baby greens, the jambalaya salad retains its spicy character but gains new appeal for hot summer days.

These salads are convenient for summer suppers with the family or for entertaining, as they can be prepared in advance. They can be served cool or at room temperature. The only last minute steps are to add any tender greens and to give the salad a final taste to be sure it is well seasoned.

Seafood Paella Salad with Saffron Rice

Shrimp, scallops and grilled peppers combined with saffron rice pilaf make a sensational salad that recalls Spanish paella. You can substitute diced white-fleshed fish, such as sea bass or sole, for the scallops or the shrimp. Serve the salad in a bowl or spoon it over a bed of fresh baby greens.

Makes 2 or 3 main-course servings.

1/4 teaspoon crushed saffron threads (2 pinches)

2 1/2 cups boiling water

4 to 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 pound medium shrimp, shelled

1/2 pound large scallops, quartered

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 small zucchini, cut in 1/2-inch dice

1 onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 1/4 cups long-grain white rice

1 large thyme sprig or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled

1 cup thawed frozen or cooked fresh peas

2 red bell peppers, grilled, peeled (see note below) and cut in strips

4 plum tomatoes, diced small

2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley

1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste

Lemon quarters (for garnish)

Add saffron to 1 cup boiling water; cover and let stand while you prepare remaining ingredients.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large saute pan, large wide saucepan or deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp, scallops, salt and pepper, and saute about 2 minutes, tossing often. Remove with a slotted spoon. Add zucchini, salt and pepper to pan and saute about 2 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon.

Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan. Add onion and cook over medium heat about 5 minutes or until soft but not brown. Add garlic and rice and cook over low heat, stirring, about 3 minutes or until grains begin to turn white.

Pour saffron in its liquid and remaining 1 1/2 cups boiling water over rice and stir once. Add thyme, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover tightly and simmer, without stirring, for 15 minutes. Scatter shrimp, scallops, zucchini and peas over top. Cover and simmer for 3 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. Discard thyme sprig.

Fluff rice lightly with a large fork, and gently transfer to a bowl. Add remaining 1 or 2 tablespoons olive oil. Cool to room temperature. With a fork, gently stir in peppers, tomatoes and parsley. Add lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasoning.

If making the salad in advance, remove it from the refrigerator about 15 minutes before serving and adjust the seasoning again. Serve garnished with lemon quarters.

Note: To grill and peel peppers, preheat broiler with rack 2 to 4 inches from heat source, or far enough so peppers just fit; or heat grill. Broil or grill peppers for 15 minutes or until their skins are blistered and charred but do not let them burn. During broiling, turn peppers every 3 or 4 minutes with tongs so another side faces flame. Transfer peppers to a bowl and cover bowl; or put them in a paper or plastic bag and close bag. Let stand for 10 minutes. Peel peppers using paring knife. Halve peppers; be careful because they may have hot juice inside. Discard seeds and ribs, and pat dry. Do not rinse.

Bowtie Pasta and Chickpea Salad with Vegetables and Fresh Herbs

All kinds of beans, from white to brown to pink beans to chickpeas (garbanzo beans) are good in this salad version of Italian pasta e fagioli. Flavored with fresh basil and Italian parsley, the salad makes a delightful vegetarian main course or accompaniment for grilled chicken or steak. It's ideal for picnics. Vary the proportion of beans, as well as the selection of vegetables and herbs, to your taste. Other good additions are cooked green beans and baby lima beans.

Makes 3 to 4 main course or 5 or 6 side dish servings.

12 ounces pasta bowties (farfalle) or medium pasta shells

Salt and freshly ground pepper

6 or 7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 large carrots, diced

2 green or yellow zucchini, or 1 of each, diced

1 or 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed

2 or 3 ripe plum tomatoes, diced

1/4 cup minced green onions

2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves

3 tablespoons strained fresh lemon juice

Cook pasta uncovered in a large pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, over high heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 8 minutes or until tender but firm to the bite. Drain, rinse briefly with cold water and drain well. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil.

In the same pot, boil 2 cups water and add carrots. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or until just tender. Drain well and add to bowl of pasta.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet. Add zucchini, salt and pepper, and saute over medium heat for 2 minutes or until just crisp-tender. Transfer to bowl of pasta.

Add chickpeas, tomatoes, green onions, half the parsley and half the basil to bowl of pasta.

In a small bowl whisk lemon juice with remaining 2 or 3 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper. Add to salad and toss until ingredients are coated. Taste and adjust seasoning. Sprinkle with remaining basil and parsley. Serve cool or at room temperature.

Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks (click here), including "Seriously Simple Holidays: Recipes and Ideas to Celebrate the Season," and also a James Beard award-winning radio show host.

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