Dinner in 15 Minutes

Watercress, Salami and Goat Cheese Salad

4 servings

This salad is for those sultry summer evenings when you'd rather just nosh on cheese and cold cuts than tuck into a hot anything.

To change it up: Swap arugula or spinach for the watercress; pecorino or feta cheese for the goat cheese; or add thinly sliced red onions, chopped red tomatoes or even diced seedless watermelon. For a heartier entree, top the salad with homemade croutons or toss the salad with freshly cooked pasta.

Adapted from a recipe in "Quick From Scratch: Salads and Soups Cookbook" by Food & Wine Magazine (American Express, 2004):

2 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

6 tablespoons olive oil

About 2 bunches watercress, rinsed, tough stems removed

1/4 to 1/2 pound sliced salami, cut into matchstick-size strips

About 6 ounces mild goat cheese

In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and about 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Whisking constantly, slowly add the oil and whisk to combine.

Add the watercress and salami and toss to combine. Divide the salad evenly among plates and crumble the cheese over the top. Pass additional pepper on the side.

Per serving: 416 calories, 14 gm protein, 2 gm carbohydrates, 39 gm fat, 52 mg cholesterol, 14 gm saturated fat, 640 mg sodium, 1 gm dietary fiber

SHOPPING CART

Vegetable and Fruit Scrub; Avocados at the Ready

Get Out That Brush

If it's not pesticides on peaches then it's salmonella on scallions.

Before you pop that blueberry straight from the plastic container into your mouth, consider that most common fruits and vegetables most likely have pesticides and bacteria.

To remove most contaminants, the Food and Drug Administration advises consumers to wash produce under cool running tap water, without any soap or detergents, immediately prior to eating. This also applies to items that you intend to slice or peel, since anything on the surface of a produce item can be transferred to the interior via the knife or fingertips.

Several brands of commercial produce washes are available. However, the EPA prohibits packaging claims regarding the effectiveness of removal of bacteria, and the FDA has concluded that commercial washes are no more effective than running water.

You may also wish to peel fruits, even when it's not called for, to remove and throw away the outer leaves from leafy lettuces and greens, and to use a produce brush on firm items that can withstand the rigors of brushing. Though many vegetable brushes are available, we like the look and the scouring action of this Sri Lankan vegetable brush's natural bristles.

The natural vegetable brush ($8) from Merben International Inc. is available locally at Dean & DeLuca (3276 M St. NW; call 202-342-2500).

Ready When You Are

When the party menu calls for a large bowl of guacamole and ripe avocados are scarce, consider Trader Joe's Hass Avocado Halves. These fully ripe beauties are peeled, pitted and individually flash-frozen so you can use as few or as many as you need, then pop the resealable bag back in the freezer.

The only drawback is the slightly acerbic tang and mushy texture, noticeable only if you use the avocados for slices rather than a dip.

Hass Avocado Halves are available for $2.99 per 16-ounce package (approximately nine avocado halves per bag) at Trader Joe's stores.

ONLINE | www.aol.com

A Web site with recipes doesn't impress us.

A Web site with more than 13,000 test-kitchen recipes from several different magazines gets our attention.

Launched late last year in conjunction with Time Inc., AOL Food brings a lot more to your screen than just recipes. Available only to AOL subscribers, the Web site offers information culled from Real Simple, Cooking Light, Food & Wine, Health and several other magazines in the form of techniques shown via video, test kitchen tips, organization and equipment advice and online cookbooks the user can customize.Go to www.aol.com, sign in and type "food" in the keyword box.

BOOK REPORT

WHEN FOOD WAS FUN: CALORIES DIDN'T COUNT,

CANDY WAS KING, AND MEALTIME WAS ANYTIME

Author Linda Ferrer

Publisher Artisan, $9.95

The title of this compilation of photos from the last six decades pretty much says it all. It's all about the simple delights of childhood, from a popsicle-induced blue tongue to pie-eating contests, depicted by 53 pictures and punctuated with droll quotes.

Today's Tip

Next time you find yourself facing a cruddy grill rack not armed with a grill brush, simply wad a sheet of aluminum foil into a ball, grasp it with tongs and rub it forcefully against the rack.

Waffling's Not Necessarily A Bad Thing

Percent of women who feel guilty for eating ice cream: 44

Percent of men who do: 30

Average amount of ice cream Americans eat in their lifetimes: 1 ton,

which is also the approximate weight of a baby elephant

-- From the July/August

issue of Health Magazine

To Do

RESERVE NOW

JULY 13 and 20: Cooking class for cancer prevention and survival at Whole Foods Market. Sponsored by the Cancer Project. Free. 7-9 p.m. 1440 P St. NW. Call 202-686-2210 Ext. 336 or see www.CancerProject.org

PLEASE NOTE: Space limitations sometimes prevent Food from publishing all submissions. For possible inclusion, send notices -- including organization name, date, cost, time, address and phone number -- to: To Do, Food, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington D.C. 20071 or food@washpost.com. Submissions must be received at least 14 days prior to publication date.

AKA

Mudbug -- Crawfish

Bay bug -- Lobster

Dorado -- Mahi-mahi

Bream -- Tilapia