Giardiniera with Fresh Mozzarella

½ cup roasted garlic, basil and oregano or other seasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic crush or pressed
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1/3 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Combine dressing ingredients together in a large salad bowl.
2 cups or one pint container fresh small domestic, Italian brown, crimini or baby Portabella mushrooms, cleaned of debris with bottom of stems trimmed
1 to 1½ large red, yellow or orange bell pepper roasted and cut into thin slices
3 cups ripe tomatoes sliced a ¼-inch thick (It’s fun to mix the tomato colors up; I like to use red as well as yellow and orange tomatoes. Also, small grape tomatoes and sliced roma tomatoes work well in this salad)
4 ounces (1 cup) fresh mozzarella cheese or low fat mozzarella cheese, diced
1 ½ cups artichoke hearts quartered (Use the ones that are not marinated. If you can’t find artichoke hearts packed in water rinse the marinated ones well with warm water and drain.)
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion strips
1/2 cup fresh chopped basil
basil leaves for garnish – optional*

1. Add mushrooms to dressing and marinate in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

2. To roast bell peppers place oven rack on top shelf directly under boiler and preheat broiler. Cut bell pepper in half and remove seeds and stem from each piece. Place each pepper half skin side up on a foil lined baking sheet. Place baking sheet under broiler. Leaving the oven door ajar, roast peppers until skin is lightly charred and has lifted from each pepper, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and place pepper halves in an airtight container or plastic bag for 20 minutes. Remove from container. Under a gentle stream of cold water peel skin off of peppers. Drain on paper towels, cut into thin strips and set aside.

3. Add tomatoes, sliced roasted peppers, artichokes, onions, mozzarella and basil to mushrooms gently mixing all ingredients together until combined. Cover, return salad to refrigerator and chill another 30 minutes or until ready to serve.

Yield approximately 10 -1 cup servings each at approximately 68 Calories; 3.3 grams total fat; 1.4 grams saturated fat; 4 milligrams cholesterol; 7.3 grams carbohydrate; 2.3 gram fiber; 4.2 grams protein; 132 milligrams sodium.

Compares to high fat version at 140 calories and 10 grams of fat per serving

Cook’s Note: Any vegetable is good in this salad from capers to olives however, remember that olives add additional fat to the salad. Try green beans, zucchini, carrots, broccoli or cauliflower cut into bite size pieces and par cooked al dente.

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