MENU PLANNER : An (Almost) Effortless Dinner


This menu lets you take it easy on party day. Most of the work is done the day before, and the main dish, beef stew, tastes all the better for it.

The dessert, pears poached in pineapple sauce with ginger, can also be prepared in advance. The pears need to be reheated just before serving, because the butter in the sauce will congeal in the refrigerator overnight.

The broccoli salad looks freshest if prepared the day it is served, but it can be marinated overnight if necessary. That leaves only one last-minute job: the simple task of cooking the noodles.


Beef Stew With Red Wine


Marinated Broccoli Salad

Ginger Pears

Wine: A hearty red wine (a medium-priced Cabernet Sauvignon, for example) or a Zinfandel or Petite Sirah


1 medium onion

Red wine

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can beef broth


Salt, pepper



Bay leaf

Red wine vinegar

Garlic powder

Dry mustard


Brown sugar



Shopping List

1 1/2 pounds 7-bone beef roast

Fresh parsley

Fresh thyme

Fresh rosemary

8 small boiling onions

3 carrots

1 turnip

1 lemon

1 (6-ounce) package sliced mushrooms

Egg noodles

1 pound broccoli

1 small head red lettuce

1 can pimientos

1 small can pineapple juice

Crystallized ginger

2 large pears

Game Plan

1 day ahead: Make stew. Cook pears.

Morning of dinner: Cook broccoli, add dressing and chill.

1 hour before dinner: Start reheating stew.

20 minutes before dinner: Cook noodles. Reheat pears until warm but not hot.

Last minute: Arrange broccoli salad on lettuce leaves and garnish with pimiento. Place noodles on plates. Ladle stew onto noodles or alongside.

After entree: Spoon pears into dessert bowls.


1 1/2 pounds boneless trimmed 7-bone beef roast

3 tablespoons flour

Salt, pepper


1/4 cup oil

1 medium onion, sliced

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 1/2 cups dry red wine

3/4 cup canned beef broth

1 bay leaf

3 sprigs parsley

3 sprigs thyme

1 sprig rosemary

8 small whole boiling onions

3 carrots, cut diagonally into long slices about 1/4-inch thick

1 turnip, diced

1 (6-ounce) package sliced mushrooms

Cooked egg noodles

Cut beef into 1-inch chunks. Combine flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon paprika in plastic food bag. Add beef and shake until coated.

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in heavy Dutch oven. Add meat and cook until browned. Add sliced onion and garlic. Saute until onion is tender. Add wine, beef broth, bay leaf, parsley, thyme and rosemary. Cover and cook until meat is tender, about 90 minutes. Taste and add more salt if needed. Add boiling onions, carrots and turnip. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and saute until tender. Add to stew and reheat. Serve with egg noodles.

Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about:

440 calories; 502 mg sodium; 75 mg cholesterol; 20 grams fat; 19 grams carbohydrates; 33 grams protein; 1.43 grams fiber.


1 pound broccoli

1/2 cup oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

Generous dash freshly ground black pepper

1 small head red lettuce

2 tablespoons chopped canned pimiento

Discard coarse ends of broccoli stems. Steam broccoli in pot with little water until just tender. Remove to large bowl.

Combine oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt, garlic powder, dry mustard and pepper in small bowl. Mix well. Pour over broccoli and chill 2 to 3 hours.

At serving time, line 4 salad plates with lettuce leaves. Divide broccoli into 4 servings and arrange on lettuce. Garnish with pimiento.

Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about:

175 calories; 338 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 15 grams fat; 10 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams protein; 2.01 grams fiber.


2 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup brown sugar, packed

2 tablespoons honey

1/2 cup canned pineapple juice

1 tablespoon chopped crystallized ginger

2 large pears, about 1 1/4 pounds, peeled, cored and cut into eighths

Combine butter, brown sugar, honey, pineapple juice and ginger in large saucepan. Bring to boil. Stir to dissolve sugar and honey. Add pears, reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes, or until tender.

Serve warm with juices spooned over.

Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about:

263 calories; 67 mg sodium; 16 mg cholesterol; 6 grams fat; 55 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram protein; 2.04 grams fiber.


Kitchen Tip

Crystallized ginger is a sugar-coated confection available in the fancy food section of some supermarkets and in most Chinese markets. Large Chinese herbal shops often sell it in bulk. The Chinese appreciate ginger's medicinal values, and it does indeed produce a warming effect if eaten straight. In small quantities, it adds pleasant spice to baked goods and desserts.

* Simon Pearce celadon pottery and glass bowl from Fred Segal Zero Minus Plus, Santa Monica.

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