New ideas for healthful wraps and salads


Published: Wednesday, August 1, 2007 at 8:34 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 1, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

Can you stomach one more flatbread wrapped around raw veggies or yet another heaping pile of mesclun?

Of course, you know you should be eating wraps and salads. They are great, almost effortless ways to eat your way to better health. But without serious creativity, healthy can become just another synonym for dull.

To the rescue: Two recent books that aim to help you innovate these staples of lean cuisine.

In "Raising the Salad Bar," personal chef Catherine Walthers assembles 100 recipes for new takes on salad drawn from her years of trying to make exciting salads for her clients week after week. This is way beyond iceberg lettuce and tomato wedges.

Walthers includes salads of legumes (such as lentil salad with maple-balsamic vinaigrette), grains (such as wild rice and wheat berry salad with cranberries and pine nuts), as well as new takes on chicken, potato, pasta, slaws and other traditional salads.

The book also offers tips on the essentials of great salads, including the importance of making the dressing from scratch and having a willingness to experiment with new ingredients.

Other tips include the best ways to store fresh greens and herbs, key equipment (whisk and large stainless steel bowls among them), as well as the best salt and oils. Walthers also includes a short glossary of common greens.

If sandwich wraps are more your style, take a look at Jennie Shapter's "Wraps," which covers all manner of foods rolled and noshed, including appealing buckwheat pancake wraps stuffed with smoked salmon, fresh dill and blanched asparagus tips.

Other wraps include Indian spiced chicken wrapped in chapattis, grilled Mediterranean vegetables wrapped in crepes, and grilled slices of eggplant wrapped around tomatoes, pine nuts and feta cheese.

Wasabi Coleslaw

Don't worry about the heat in this dish. Once mixed into a dressing and allowed to rest for 10 to 15 minutes, the wasabi mellows considerably. For the best taste, try to find a wasabi powder that uses real wasabi, not horseradish.

For the salad:

6 cups thinly sliced green cabbage (about  head)

1 cup shredded carrots

3 tablespoons sliced scallion greens or minced parsley

For the dressing:

2 teaspoons water

5 teaspoons wasabi powder

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 teaspoons sugar

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup canola or grapeseed oil

Several drops hot sauce

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, carrots and scallions or parsley. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the water and wasabi powder and mix until a paste forms. Set aside.

In another small bowl, whisk together the vinegar and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Whisk in the mayonnaise, oil and hot sauce. Add the wasabi paste, and salt and pepper. Mix well. Let stand for 10 to 15 minutes.

Just before serving, toss the dressing with the slaw.

Recipe from Catherine Walthers' "Raising the Salad Bar," Lake Isle Press, 2007, $19.95

Smoked Ham and Tabbouleh Cones

cup bulgur wheat

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2 scallions, finely chopped

2 inches of cucumber, halved, seeded and diced

2 tomatoes, diced

1 clove garlic, crushed

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Four 9-inch flour tortillas

4 large, thin slices smoked ham (about 6 1/2 ounces)

In a medium bowl, combine the bulgur with enough hot water to cover. Let soak 30 minutes, then use a mesh strainer to drain excess water and return the bulgur to the bowl.

To make the tabbouleh, add the mint, parsley, scallions, cucumber, tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice to the bulgur. Toss well, then season with salt and pepper. Cover and set aside for about 15 to 20 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.

Cut each tortilla and ham slice in half. Place one piece of ham on each half of tortilla. One at a time, roll each tortilla into a cone. Fill the cone with some of the tabbouleh, then secure with a toothpick (or place seam-side down to prevent it from unrolling).

Serve each person two cones, either set on a plate or standing in a small bowl.

Recipe from Jennie Shapter's "Wraps," Ryland, Peters and Small, 2007, $12.95

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