Dinner in 30 Minutes

Italian Tuna and Rice Salad

4 to 6 servings

This recipe works the way it is written.

But you could also personalize it a little without doing any damage. We've served it warm instead of cold, skipped the capers, forgotten about the tomatoes, even substituted canned for fresh tuna.

Adapted from "The Jewish Kitchen," by Clarissa Hyman (Interlink, 2004):

For the salad:

About 1 cup raw long-grain or 4 cups cooked rice (white or brown)

1 pound tuna steaks

Olive oil

Salt

14-ounce jar artichokes in oil, drained and rinsed

About 4 ounces (24 large) black and/or green olives

4 plum tomatoes

1 small red onion

2 tablespoons capers (optional)

Torn fresh basil leaves

Baby lettuce or spinach leaves (optional)

For the dressing:

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 to 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salad: Cook the rice according to package directions, if necessary.

Brush the tuna lightly on both sides with oil, sprinkle with a salt and grill until cooked to the desired degree of doneness. Transfer the tuna to a cutting board and set aside to rest for a few minutes. Drizzle about a tablespoon of dressing over the tuna.

Meanwhile, chop the artichokes, pit and chop the olives, seed and chop the tomatoes and chop the onions.

Slice the tuna into bite-size pieces.

For the dressing: Whisk all of the ingredients together. Set aside.

To assemble: In a large bowl, gently toss together the warm rice, tuna, artichokes, olives, tomatoes, onion, capers and remaining dressing. (If desired, may cover and refrigerate for up to several hours.) Add a handful of basil and toss to combine. Divide the salad or spinach leaves, if desired, among individual plates and top with the rice and tuna mixture.

Per serving (based on 6): 315 calories, 21 gm protein, 20 gm carbohydrates, 17 gm fat, 34 mg cholesterol, 2 gm saturated fat, 427 mg sodium, 2 gm dietary fiber

-- Renee Schettler

More Great Cooks

Great Cooks & Their Books, a series sponsored by The Washington Post, Borders Books & Music and the Four Seasons hotel, brings together chefs, readers, books, food and wine. Join us and three of the country's top chefs for fine conversation and equally fine food in the coming month:

On Oct. 22, former White House pastry chef Roland Mesnier will talk about "Dessert University" (Simon & Schuster, $40), his collection of 300 recipes and straightforward advice on the art of sweets. Mesnier, who spent 25 years at the White House, has made his talents accessible to home cooks, from novice brownie makers to seasoned meringue makers.

On. Nov. 16, Jacques Pepin, everybody's favorite French chef, introduces "Fast Food My Way" (Houghton Mifflin, $32), his newly published collection of recipes for cooks in a hurry. The book pays tribute to simple cuisine, with uncomplicated recipes in keeping with today's fast-paced lifestyles.

On. Nov. 17, Thomas Keller, the famed chef of the French Laundry in Yountville, Calif., and Per Se in New York City, will talk about "Bouchon" (Artisan, $50). In the book, named for Keller's casual restaurant next door to his French Laundry, Keller reinterprets and energizes bistro dishes such as duck confit, steamed mussels and French onion soup.

For reservations, call the Four Seasons at 202-944-2055. You must supply your credit card number to secure your reservation; major credit cards are accepted. The ticket price for the Mesnier event includes champagne, tea and desserts, autographed copy of the book, valet parking, tax and gratuity; the ticket price for Pepin and Keller includes reception, dinner/lunch, wine, an autographed copy of the book, valet parking, tax and gratuity.

OCT. 22

Roland Mesnier

4 p.m. champagne afternoon tea

$75, inclusive

NOV. 16

Jacques Pepin

6:30 p.m. reception;

7 p.m. dinner

$150, inclusive

NOV. 17

Thomas Keller

Noon, lunch

$150, inclusive

DEFINITION | Blanch

Verb; to plunge a food briefly into boiling water. This technique is used to loosen the skin of fruit (such as tomatoes or peaches) or to partially cook and bring out a vibrant green color in vegetables (such as green beans or sugar snaps) prior to stir-frying or freezing.

Immediately after blanching, the food may be transferred to cold water to stop the cooking.

SHOPPING CART | Telescoping Tupperware

Remember those travel cups that used to telescope to a full-size drinking glass and then squash back down to the size of a woman's compact? That's the clever concept behind the new FlatOut! Tupperware.

The bright orange containers are designed like an accordion. Flattened, they're less than an inch tall so that they take up minimal space in your cupboard; fully expanded, they hold up to four cups.

FlatOut! containers, $18.99 for a set of three, are available at some Tupperware kiosks in area malls, from local Tupperware representatives and by mail order. To find a representative nearby or to order by mail, call Tupperware at 1-800-366-3800 or see www.Tupperware.com.

TODAY'S TIP

To ensure light, flaky pastry dough, freeze the butter and/or shortening until hard, at least several hours. This helps the fat remain chilled while it is incorporated into the flour.

-- Adapted from the July 2004 issue of Fine Cooking magazine

TO DO

THURSDAY: Sipping Science -- wine tasting and discussion on climate changes, DNA sequencing and wine cultivation. Sponsored by the Marian Koshland Science Museum. $45. 7-10 p.m. The Keck Center of the National Academies, 500 Fifth St. NW. Call 202-334-1447.

SATURDAY: Taste of Georgetown -- food tastings with wine pairings from Georgetown restaurants. Benefits the Georgetown Ministry Center to aid the homeless. Free admission. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Grace Church, Wisconsin Ave. between M and South streets NW. Call 202-298-9222.

SATURDAY-MONDAY:Progressive wine tasting through the Blue Ridge Wineway district. Up to $5 at each participating winery. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. 10 wineries located in Fauquier, Culpeper and Rappahannock counties. Call 800-820-1021 or see www.BlueRidge WineWay.com.

SUNDAY: Taste of Great Falls -- food tastings from more than 15 local restaurants. Free admission; tastings are $1 each. Noon-4 p.m. The Village Green, the Village Center, 772 Walker Rd., Great Falls. Call 703-759-4155.

RESERVE NOW

OCT. 13: Farfelu Vineyards wine dinner at Founder's Restaurant and Brewing Company. $40 per person, $75 per couple excludes tax and tip. 6:30 p.m. 607 King St., Alexandria. Call 703-684-5397.

OCT. 14: The Great White Grape -- chardonnay tasting with food pairings at Sea Catch restaurant. $30 includes tax and tip. 6-8 p.m. 1054 31 St. NW. Call 202-337-4807.

OCT. 15: International wine dinner at Nirvana restaurant featuring Indian cuisine. $40 includes tax and tip. 7 p.m. 1810 K St. NW. Call 202-223-5043.

OCT. 16: Open house at L'Academie de Cuisine for those with an interest in the culinary and pastry arts to meet the staff and students. Free. 11 a.m.-1 p.m. 16006 Industrial Dr., Gaithersburg. Call 301- 670-8670 or see www.lacademie.com.

OCT. 18: Wine dinner inspired by the Phillips Collection traveling Calder Miro exhibit at Firefly restaurant. Benefits the Phillips Collection. $55 includes tax and tip. 6:30 p.m. 1310 New Hampshire Ave. NW. Call 202-861-1310.

OCT. 18: Catena wine dinner at Cafe Atlantico. $75 includes tax and tip. 7 p.m. 405 Eighth St. NW. Call 202-393-0812.

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.