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Kitchen Mailbox Countdown to Dinner Dining
Countdown to Dinner: Pastor's dish feeds family and church suppers

Thursday, February 22, 2001

Tested by Nancy Anderson

Mary Burton of Mount Lebanon invents dishes like today's Seafood Parmesan out of necessity.

"I think people who cook in a hurry have to make up quick meals," she said. "I'm forever coming up with some kind of concoction."

As a pastor at Fairhaven United Methodist Church in Overbrook, she's always looking for quick, easy dishes -- such as today's Countdown recipe -- to take to church dinners, too.

Seafood Parmesan, a generous mixture of seafood, mushrooms, noodles and sauce with broccoli on the side, will easily serve six at a sit-down dinner or 12 at a buffet.

The dish was ready for the table in 25 minutes, made an attractive presentation and needed only crusty French rolls to round out the menu.

Mary, a former Countdown winner with Simple Stroganoff, and husband John, a retired business executive, eat a lot of fish and are especially fond of sea legs (imitation crab), which she buys at Kuhn's Market on Banksville Road.

"We use a pound every other week in some version of this dish," she said. "Sea legs add a pinkish hue and are colorful with the broccoli."

The mother of three grown children in far-flung cities, she's learned to scale down her menus to some degree, but she doesn't go overboard.

Her mother was a nutritionist who believed the best dishes were made with leftovers. Often they're the quickest to prepare, too. Mary is carrying on that tradition.

"My favorite dinner in a hurry is still leftovers from a large beef roast, cooked on Sunday and served on following days for several quick meals, such as beef stir fry, stroganoff, burgundy, stew, hash and sandwiches," she said.

Seafood Parmesan

1 pound sea legs (imitation crab, also called Sea Stix) or shrimp
8 ounces curly noodles
8 ounces presliced fresh or canned mushrooms
1 to 2 tablespoons margarine or butter
26-ounce jar roasted garlic and Parmesan spaghetti sauce (see note)
1 package frozen broccoli spears -- or fresh broccoli florets (we used a half bag of fresh broccoli)

Put water on to boil for pasta. Cook according to directions.

In a large skillet, saute mushrooms in butter until soft and add spaghetti sauce. Heat to boiling but don't boil. Add sea legs, cover and simmer gently to mingle flavors (about 10 minutes).

Steam or cook broccoli.

Drain noodles and put on a large platter or serving dish. Top with sea legs mixture. Garnish with broccoli. Serves 6 generously.

Tester's note: We couldn't find this combination, so we bought roasted garlic sauce and added a tablespoon or so of Parmesan when the sauce was heating.

Do you have an entree, salad or vegetable side dish recipe (no desserts, please!) that can be made in 30 minutes or less from six ingredients or fewer (not counting water, salt and pepper)? Share it with Countdown to Dinner.

The PG tests all recipes and if we select your recipe for publication, you'll receive a free selection from our cookbook grab bag of current releases.

Send your recipe to Countdown to Dinner, Post-Gazette Food, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, or fax to 412-263-1313. Please include your name, neighborhood and daytime phone number. Or e-mail to: nanderson@post-gazette.com. Questions? Call 412-263-1760.

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