DINNER TONIGHT

STEAMED SUMMER VEGETABLE PLATE WITH HERBED LEMON DRESSING

(4 servings)

The splendid flavor of farm market-fresh vegetables comes through in this me'lange. It is a fine accompaniment to grilled fish or chicken but can stand on its own as a vegetarian meal.

12 marble-size new potatoes, scrubbed

3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 pound thin green beans, trimmed

3 small, slender zucchini, cut into 1-inch slices

1 patty pan squash, trimmed and cut into 1-inch thick slices

2 teaspoons chopped parsley leaves

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 tablespoons good olive oil

1 vine-ripened tomato, peeled, seeded and diced

Steam the potatoes in a large steamer basket for 5 minutes; add the carrots and green beans, steam for 4 minutes. Add the zucchini and squash, steam for 3 to 4 minutes longer, or until all of the vegetables are tender.

Remove the basket from the steamer, sprinkle the parsley and thyme over the vegetables, season with salt and pepper, and transfer to a warm serving dish. Drizzle the lemon juice and oil over the vegetables, top with the diced tomato, and serve.

Per serving: 302 calories, 6 gm protein, 49 gm carbohydrates, 11 gm fat, 2 gm saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 34 mg sodium.

Lisa Yockelson

POTATO CHIPS AND LOBSTER go together like pork and beans, as any New Englander knows. Perhaps that explains why New Englanders eat 50 percent more potato chips than other Americans, according to the Snack Food Association's just-released, state-of-the-industry report.

Per-capita consumption of potato chips averages six pounds per person per year nationally; in New England, per-capita consumption is nine pounds. But it's not just potato chips that New Englanders go for; they also eat far more ready-to-eat popcorn, microwaveable popcorn and snack nuts than the national average, giving the region the highest per-capita consumption of snack food in the country -- 27 pounds per person compared to the national average of 19 pounds. That's letting the chips fall where they may.

What about mid-Atlantic snackers? They are especially fond of pretzels, eating more than twice the national average of 1 1/3 pounds per person a year. The farther west you go, the less popular pretzels are. Instead, western consumers are heavier-than-normal consumers of tortilla chips.

FALL COOKING CLASSES will be listed Aug. 29 in the Food section. For inclusion in the annual list, information must be received by Aug. 13, only by mail (Cooking Classes, Food Section, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071). Specify in 100 words or less the nature of courses offered (French or Indian, participation or demonstration, etc.), total years of operation, costs, location, starting dates and times. Include an address and telephone number for inquiries.

" ... we have just fallen heir to two pieces of birthday cake put aside for us in a wrapping of oiled paper. Elizabeth says that it is pink cake this time made with the syrup of preserved wild strawberries, and that it looks particularly good." From "Northern Farm: A Chronicle of Maine" by Henry Beston, 1948, Downeast Books

"WHERE'S THE BEST PLACE in America to find crisp bacon and coffee?" asks the Rand McNally marketing brochure received recently in the mail.

Many travelers probably would go out of their way for the answer. Unfortunately, however, in this instance, Rand McNally is referring not to food but to three counties in Georgia: Crisp, Bacon and Coffee. The brochure promotes Rand McNally's 1990 Commercial Atlas and Marketing Guide, which lists business, manufacturing, income and buying-power statistics county by county, state by state.

Well, maybe next year's edition will include the information that really counts: the best place to BUY crisp bacon and coffee.

A STRICT BUDGET can apply to eating as well as spending money. That's the gist behind the National Dairy Council's "Healthy Dividends" program, which allows you eat the foods you hate to give up, so long as you stay within your "fat budget." Here are the council's guidelines for your "personal budget," which should be used in conjunction with nutrition information on food packages and by paying attention to serving sizes:

IF YOU ARE A WOMAN:

Between ...... and your weight is: .... your fat budget is:

19-24 years ... 110-130 lbs. ..................... 70 grams

............... 130-150 .......................... 80

............... 150-170 .......................... 90

25-50 years ... 110-130 lbs. ..................... 65 grams

............... 130-150 .......................... 75

............... 150-170 .......................... 85

51+ years ..... 110-130 lbs. ..................... 55 grams

............... 130-150 .......................... 65

............... 150-170 .......................... 75

IF YOU ARE A MAN:

Between ...... and your weight is: .... your fat budget is:

19-24 years ... 140-160 lbs. ..................... 90 grams

............... 160-180 .......................... 105

............... 180-200 .......................... 115

25-50 years ... 140-160 lbs. ..................... 85 grams

............... 160-180 .......................... 95

............... 180-200 .......................... 105

51+ years ..... 140-160 lbs. ..................... 70 grams

............... 160-180 .......................... 75

............... 180-200 .......................... 85