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Creative vegetable combinations mix colors and flavors

There was a time when peas were peas and corn was corn. The twain may have met on the same plate, but didn't usually mix. Nowadays, vegetables are thrown together in all sorts of combinations. People are much more aware of the colors, flavors, and textures that can be mixed and matched.

You can start with fresh vegetables or make your own m'elange with canned vegetables or leftovers. For appeal, toss them with a few slivered almonds, cashews, water chestnuts, or pimento strips.

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Creative vegetable dishes make economical and interesting entrees. If you wish to take vegetables out of the ``side dish'' category, try some of the following recipes. Vegetable Loaf 1 eggplant, peeled and chopped 1 cup diced celery 1 onion, chopped 1 tomato, diced 4 tablespoons butter or margarine 1 egg, beaten 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano 1 tablespoon wheat germ 1 tablespoon tofu (optional) 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/3 cup dry bread crumbs

Saut'e eggplant, celery, onion, and tomato in butter in skillet. Let cool. Put in mixing bowl.

Add the egg, 1/2 cup crumbs, oregano, wheat germ, tofu, garlic powder, and salt. Mix well.

Put in greased 8-inch-square pan or loaf pan. Sprinkle with the 1/3 cup crumbs. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 25 minutes. Serves 6. Skillet Vegetable Ragout 1 medium Bermuda onion 1 clove garlic 1/2 pound fresh young green beans 2 medium carrots 1 small green pepper 1/2 small head cabbage 2 small tomatoes 4 tablespoons butter or margarine 3 tablespoons water Salt and pepper 1/4 to 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese 1/4 to 1/2 cup crisp croutons

Peel and chop onion. Peel garlic. Wash and snap ends off the beans. Scrape carrots and cut them, Chinese fashion, at 45-degree angle into thin oval slices.

Remove seeds and ribs from green pepper and cut in thin strips. Chop cabbage. Cut each tomato into 4 wedges.

Set skillet temperature at 250 degrees F. Put in butter. When butter has melted, add vegetables and pour water over surface. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

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Cover and cook 20 to 25 minutes or until all vegetables are tender. (Uncover and stir occasionally.) Stir in Parmesan cheese and croutons and serve at once. Serves 4. Rainbow Vegetable Platter Salad oil 4 large carrots, thinly sliced diagonally Salt 1/2 pound Chinese pea pods or 1 6-ounce package frozen Chinese pea pods, thawed 1 pound medium mushrooms, each cut in half 1 pint cherry tomatoes 1 small bunch broccoli, cut into 1-inch-by-2-inch pieces 1 small head cauliflower, separated into flowerets 1 medium onion, quartered 1/2 cup water 2 tablespoons soy sauce

In 8-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons salad oil. When heated, add carrots with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook until carrots are tender-crisp, about 3 to 5 minutes, stirring often. With slotted spoon, remove carrots to large bowl.

In 1 more tablespoon hot oil, cook pea pods and 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 to 2 minutes, stirring. Remove to bowl.

In 3 more tablespoons hot oil, stir mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon salt until mushrooms are coated. Cover; cook 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove to bowl.

In 1 more tablespoon hot oil, cook tomatoes until heated through, about 1 minute, stirring. Remove to bowl.

In 2 more tablespoons hot oil, stir broccoli, cauliflower, and onion until well coated. Add water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook 5 to 10 minutes, until tender-crisp, stirring occasionally.

Remove Dutch oven from heat. Return all vegetables to Dutch oven. Add soy sauce. Mix well. Spoon vegetables onto a large platter. Serve hot or refrigerate to serve cold later. Serves 10. Mixed Vegetable-Rice Casserole Any three or more of the following sliced, uncooked vegetables: 1 to 2 white turnips 1/2 cup peas 2 tomatoes 2 potatoes 1 to 2 carrots 1/2 cup celery 1/2 cup raw rice 1 onion, finely sliced 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon pepper Pinch of allspice 1 1/2 cups chicken stock (use cube, concentrate, or canned)

Wash rice and place in alternate layers with vegetables in deep casserole. Add seasonings. Cover with chicken stock. Bake tightly covered in 350-degree F. oven about 50 minutes, till vegetables and rice are tender. Serves 2 to 3.

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