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Go Ahead, Be Shellfish

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Mandel is author of "Celebrating the Midwestern Table" (Doubleday & Co., 1996)

Shellfish is a traditional warm-weather food and is delicious served either chilled or room temperature. Forget rich sauces and extensive cooking. Shellfish in warm weather should be served simply, enhanced only with fresh ingredients.

The following recipes follow these guidelines: They are flavorful, easy do-aheads. Just be sure to buy shellfish from a reputable store where high quality and freshness are a given.

HARVEST GAZPACHO WITH GRILLED VEGETABLES AND WARM SHRIMP

Active Work and Total Preparation time: 30 minutes plus 6 hours chilling time * Low-fat

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4 large ears corn

3 1/3 cups seasoned tomato juice

2 large tomatoes, halved, seeded and diced

1 red bell pepper, grilled, peeled and diced

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1 yellow bell pepper, grilled, peeled and diced

4 large shallots, cut in half lengthwise, grilled and diced

1/4 cup tomato paste

1/4 cup minced basil

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1 tablespoon horseradish

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons minced garlic

Few drops hot pepper sauce

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Salt

Freshly ground pepper

18 large shrimp, peeled

Remove silk from corn, keeping husks intact, and grill. Cut kernels off cobs.

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Combine tomato juice, corn, tomatoes, red and yellow bell peppers, shallots, tomato paste, basil, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, hot pepper sauce and salt and pepper to taste in 2-quart bowl and mix well. Chill at least 6 hours but preferably 1 to 2 days.

Lightly season shrimp with salt and pepper. Thread shrimp on skewers through each end to keep flat. Grill over hot fire until just cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes per side; do not overcook. Split lengthwise.

Stir gazpacho and adjust seasoning. Ladle chilled soup into shallow soup bowls and garnish each with 6 pieces warm shrimp cut side down. Serve immediately.

6 servings. Each serving:

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131 calories; 141 mg sodium; 28 mg cholesterol; 1 gram fat; 26 grams carbohydrates; 8 grams protein; 1.46 grams fiber.

CHILLED MARINATED MUSSELS WITH GARLIC, LEMON AND PARSLEY

Active Work Time: 30 minutes * Total Preparation Time: 45 minutes plus 6 hours chilling

Most mussels sold today are farm-raised and easy to clean. However, if the mussels are very dirty, soak them for 30 minutes in 1 tablespoon salt and cold water to cover. Serve this recipe as a first course or with pasta tossed with fresh tomato, red onion and basil.

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2 tablespoons olive oil

3 large cloves garlic, minced

1 large shallot, minced

2 tablespoons dry white wine

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2 1/2 pounds mussels, beards removed and scrubbed

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 cup minced parsley

Salt, pepper

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1 large lemon, thinly sliced

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and shallot and cook, stirring often, until just fragrant but not brown, about 20 seconds. Add wine and mussels and cook over high heat, shaking pan often, until mussels have opened, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from skillet to bowl with slotted spoon. Discard any mussels that refuse to open after prying with knife.

Add lemon juice to pan juices and boil over medium-high heat until reduced to about 1/2 cup, about 2 minutes. Stir in parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour over mussels. Add lemon slices and toss to mix.

Let cool in bowl, then transfer to heavy plastic food bag. Close bag and press sides against mussels. Refrigerate and marinate at least 6 hours or overnight, turning bag often. Transfer to large bowl and serve chilled.

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2 main-course or 4 appetizer servings. Each main-course serving:

529 calories; 980 mg sodium; 125 mg cholesterol; 24 grams fat; 20 grams carbohydrates; 54 grams protein; 0.20 gram fiber.

OPEN-FACE LOBSTER SALAD SANDWICH

Active Work and Total Preparation Time: 15 minutes

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This is the ultimate sandwich. Serve an extra piece of warm brioche toast on the side for those who may want to make a closed sandwich.

2/3 cup low-fat mayonnaise

2 tablespoons low-fat sour cream

2 tablespoons snipped chives or dill

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1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon chili sauce

Few drops hot pepper sauce

Few drops lemon juice

4 cups large chunks cooked lobster

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Salt

Freshly ground pepper

8 Boston lettuce leaves, ribs removed

8 (3/4-inch-thick) slices brioche bread, lightly toasted and buttered

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12 thick slices large tomato

8 slices bacon, preferably applewood-smoked, cooked crisp

Combine mayonnaise, sour cream, chives, chili sauce, hot pepper sauce and lemon juice in 2-quart bowl. Add lobster and toss gently until mixed. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (Recipe can be made to this point and refrigerated for a few hours before serving.)

Arrange lettuce leaves on 4 pieces warm brioche toast. Put 3 slices tomato on each piece of lettuce. Spoon lobster salad on tomatoes, pressing down slightly. Top each with 2 bacon slices. Serve immediately.

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4 servings. Each serving:

578 calories; 1,522 mg sodium; 117 mg cholesterol; 23 grams fat; 49 grams carbohydrates; 43 grams protein; 0.74 gram fiber.


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