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This centerpiece is cool paella.

You can have it ready and waiting for a big party

EFFECTIVE STRATEGIES for carefree entertaining, the party-giver's dream, are often much simpler than end results indicate. Two that work best are advance preparation and a menu trimmed down to just one great dish.

This party paella salad meets these criteria. The salad can be made completely ahead and served cold; it's a showy, whole-meal entree presented from a large platter. When serving time arrives, all you need to do is set out the salad. Guests serve themselves.

Another plus of this salad is that one big pan performs a multitude of chores. In it, you steep seafood in a wine broth, then cook the rice in the richly flavored broth with saffron. Add lots of vegetables and a caper-chili dressing to the pan of rice. Meanwhile, marinate the seafood in more of the same dressing.

You can cook the rice and the seafood up to a day ahead. If your refrigerator is large enough, assemble the salad up to 6 hours before serving. If chilling space is restricted, you can quickly transfer the elements to the platter at serving time.

For predinner nibbles, offer warm almonds with dry sherry. To accompany the salad, serve crusty bread and a white wine such as dry Sauvignon Blanc or dry Chenin Blanc. Crescents of cool honeydew, Persian melon, or cantaloupe accented with whole strawberries end the meal simply.

Party Paella Salad

3 cups regular-strength chicken broth 1 1/2 cups dry white wine 1 dried bay leaf 2 pounds large shrimp (31 to 35 per lb.), shelled and deveined 1 pound bay scallops, rinsed 2 to 3 dozen small clams in shells, suitable for steaming, scrubbed Dressing (recipe follows) 3 tablespoons olive oil 2 large (1 lb. total) onions, chopped 2 cloves garlic 4 cups long-grain white rice 1/8 teaspoon powdered saffron or ground saffron threads (grind with a mortar and pestle) 2 packages (9 oz. each) frozen artichoke hearts, thawed 1 jar (5 oz.) or 1/2 cup drained Spanish-style olives 2 large (about 1 lb. total) red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and chopped 1 pound (about 2 cups) cherry tomatoes, stemmed, rinsed, and cut in half 1 package (1 lb.) frozen petite peas, thawed Romaine lettuce leaves, rinsed and crisped (optional)

In a 5- to 6-quart pan, combine broth, wine, bay leaf, and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil; stir in shrimp. Cover tightly and remove from heat; let stand just until shrimp is opaque in thickest part (cut to test), about 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon, put shrimp in a large bowl.

Return broth to a boil; stir in scallops. Cover tightly and remove from heat; let stand until scallops are opaque in thickest part (cut to test), about 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer scallops to bowl with shrimp.

Return broth to a boil. Add clams; cover and simmer until shells pop open, 5 to 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer clams (discard unopened ones) to bowl with shrimp and scallops; set seafood aside.

Pour broth into a 2-quart glass measure, leaving behind gritty sediment. Rinse pan. If needed, add water or boil broth, uncovered, to make 7 1/2 cups. Add 1 cup broth to the dressing. Reserve remaining broth.

Add 1 cup dressing to seafood; mix. Cover; chill until cold, about 2 hours or up to 1 day. Stir occasionally.

To the rinsed pan, add oil, onions, and garlic. Stir often over medium-high heat until onion is very limp, about 10 minutes. Add rice and stir until grains turn opaque, about 5 minutes. Add reserved 6 1/2 cups broth and saffron. Boil gently, uncovered, until most of the liquid evaporates, 8 to 10 minutes. Cover tightly and cook over very low heat until rice is tender to bite, about 15 minutes. Uncover rice and cool; gently stir several times.

To rice, add artichokes, olives, red bell peppers, and remaining dressing. Mix gently. If making ahead, cover and chill up to 1 day.

Up to 6 hours before serving, gently stir tomatoes and peas into rice. If desired, line a large platter with romaine leaves. Mound rice onto lettuce. With a slotted spoon, transfer seafood onto rice; spoon dressing in bowl over salad. If making ahead, cover and chill up to 6 hours. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

Per serving: 539 cal. (28 percent from fat); 30 g protein; 17 g fat (2.4 g sat.); 66 g carbo.; 594 mg sodium; 112 mg chol.

Dressing. Mix 1 cup white wine vinegar, 1 cup broth from seafood (see preceding), 1/2 cup olive oil, 3 tablespoons drained capers, 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano leaves or 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves, 3/4 to 1 teaspoon crushed dried hot red chilies, and 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced. Makes 2 1/2 cups.
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:recipe
Author:Anusasananan, Linda Lau
Date:Apr 1, 1993
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