Archive | avocado RSS feed for this section

Pasta Salad with Avocado-Tarragon Dressing

8 Oct

Eat your Green

The other night I went with my sister and a friend to the Hollywood Bowl.  One of the best things about seeing a concert there is bringing a picnic!  It’s one of those things I always want to do but usually don’t take the time to do, and instead just buy food somewhere nearby.  This time, we did it the right way.  My contribution was this pasta salad.

Summer may be over, but avocados are still going strong.   They are the base of this dressing, along with licorice-y tarragon and tart lime juice.  The contents of the salad itself are flexible, of course, but I used a blend of interesting pastas that came in my last Foodie Pen Pal package.  I also used grape tomatoes, spinach, and red bell pepper.

The main character here, though, is the dressing.  Avocado is filled with healthy fat and creaminess, so you really don’t need any cream or mayo or anything of the sort.  I added a tiny splash of extra virgin olive oil just to loosen things up a bit, and add a hint of flavor.   Tarragon is considered a pain reliever and is also filled with antioxidants.  It aids digestion as well.  Who knew?

Pasta Salad with Avocado-Tarragon Dressing

serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 lb. short cut pasta of your choice
  • 1 large (or 2 small) avocados, halved and pitted
  • juice of 1 lime (about 2 tbsp)
  • 1/4 cup (loosely packed) tarragon leaves
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves, chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced

METHOD:

1.  Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the pasta.  Cook until al dente, according to package directions, and drain.  Immediately rinse with cold water to stop the cooking and bring down the temperature

2.  While the pasta cooks, scoop the avocado flesh out with a spoon and put into the bowl of a food processor or a blender.  Add the lime juice, tarragon, salt, and cayenne.  Process until completely pureed and smooth, about 1 minute.  Stream in the olive oil to smooth the dressing out even further, or omit if desired.  Transfer dressing to a large bowl.

3.  Add the cooled (it’s okay if it’s a little warm still) pasta to the bowl on top of the dressing, and add in the remaining ingredients.  Toss everything together to coat well with the dressing.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to eat.  Serve cold.

Advertisements

Nachos with Lemony Avocado

9 Jun

kitty approved

I cheated a bit.  I’ll admit it.  I couldn’t venture far from the guacamole category when using up my avocados.  I tried, I really did!  The idea of this blog is to show you how I use up my CSA and farmers market produce, and it would be a lie if I didn’t say that I have a hard time staying away from guacamole.  This recipe involves a super-stripped-down guacamole, though, with only three ingredients – avocado, salt, and lemon.  The avocado is filled with healthy fats that are good for your heart and immune system.  It’s creamy, rich, and delicious.  When you add a generous amount of lemon juice, it serves to awaken your taste buds.

time to wake up

The humble lemon doesn’t get a lot of love.  It’s such a great accompaniment and flavor enhancer.  It’s also loaded with antioxidant and antibiotic properties.  And of course, vitamin C.

So where do the nachos come in, you ask?  Of course this simple lemony avocado dip could just be a dip for plain old chips.  But I thought it would do well to grace a healthy version of a dish that is typically loaded with fat and calories.  Nachos!  And what’s more, these nachos are absolutely loaded.  This is the time to raid your refrigerator.  If you have leftover cooked chicken, beef, or beans, pick one and toss it in.  Any leftover greens, like spinach or arugula, they belong in there too.  Dig out that jar of salsa that only has a little bit left.  Why not?

The combination I’ve suggested below is just that – a suggestion.  It happens to be a delicious combination of flavors, so if you have these things on hand, try it out.  When you’re done, top it with your lemony avocado and enjoy.

Nachos with Lemony Avocado (serves 2)

this is not bar food

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups lightly salted tortilla chips
  • 1/2 cup cooked chicken, beef, or beans
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup spinach or arugula leaves
  • 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
  • 1 avocado
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup salsa

METHOD:

1.  Preheat the broiler.  In a baking sheet, spread out a single layer of the chips (they can overlap slightly).  Top with the meat or beans, the cilantro, the spinach or arugula, and the cheese.  Place under the broiler and cook until the meat is warmed through and the cheese has browned in places, about 6 minutes.

2.  While the nachos cook, remove the pit from the avocado and dice the flesh.  Put into a small bowl, sprinkle with salt and lemon juice, and mash with a fork.  Get it to a chunky consistency.

3.  When the nachos are done, get them out of the oven and top with the salsa, followed by the lemony avocado mixture.  Serve immediately.

Chunky Guacamole Pitas

24 May

my pretties

Somehow all seems right with the world when tomatoes are ripe and in season.  In most parts of the world, I’m sorry but it is not that time yet.  In southern California, it is just starting, amazingly enough.  Not a lot of farmers have them yet, but this one guy at my market has beautiful ripe on-the-vine tomatoes already and they are out of this world.   Gloriously red, plump and juicy.

Tomatoes are one of my favorite foods, in part because they are magnificent raw or cooked.  They are packed with lycopene and thought to help prevent various cancers.  This salad pairs them up with another nutritional powerhouse, one that happens to also taste incredible, the avocado.

ready for destiny

When I buy avocados, I can’t help it.  I have to make guacamole.  It’s just ingrained in every fiber of my being.  I also happen to make pretty incredible guacamole, if I do say so myself.  This time, though, I wanted to change things up a bit.  It’s guacamole without being guacamole.  More like a guacamole salad, if you will.  The tomato and avocado are chunked, and nobody gets brutally mashed.  There’s a whole different texture here, but with the lovely familiar flavors of guacamole.

And what should we do with this chunky guacamole, you ask?  Why, put it in a pita.  No need to add cheese or meat – this is a sandwich that does perfectly fine as is.  It’s spicy, tangy, creamy, and crunchy all at once.  It is, in a word, lunch.

Chunky Guacamole Pitas (serves 2)

we've got chunky guacamole up in here

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 avocado, halved, pitted, and diced
  • 1 medium-large vine-ripened tomato, diced
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • juice of 1 lime (about 2 tbsp)
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of cayenne OR 1 jalapeno, seeded & diced
  • one whole wheat pita, cut in half

METHOD:

1.  Gently toss the avocado, tomato, and cilantro with the lime juice, salt, and cayenne (or jalapeno).  Be careful not to mash the avocado.  Coat everything evenly.

2.  Divide the chunky guacamole between the two pitas, putting it inside to make pita sandwiches.  Serve immediately.

Chard Fried Rice with Avocado

13 Apr

 

taste the rainbow

It’s safe to say that if a food comes in pretty colors (in nature, that is), then it’s extra healthy for you.  When it comes to red chard, it’s almost screaming at you to add it into your diet somehow.  The stems are an incredibly vibrant scarlet, and the leaves a gorgeous grassy green.   It’s a sign.  Eat it.

In fact, chard is loaded with antioxidants, some of which are hard to come by in other food sources.  It also happens to be one of the easiest leafy greens to cook, as it wilts up in mere minutes without turning to mush, the way some other quick-cooking greens like spinach tend to do.

I realize that eating your greens can seem like a bit of a chore sometimes.  But if you stir it into fried rice packed with intense flavor, suddenly it doesn’t sound like such hard work, does it?  If you got takeout recently, don’t throw away the brown rice that you got with it.  (Because of course you always get brown rice, right?? Don’t worry, I won’t judge if you substitute white.  Mostly because I’ll have no idea.)  We all know leftover rice doesn’t reheat very well, but it definitely makes excellent fried rice.

And to turn this into a well-rounded dish with that special something-something, why not put a little avocado on top?

 

creamy and delicious

If you don’t want a vegetarian fried rice, a little stir-fried chicken or pork would be great on top.  But the avocado can stand on its own – give it a little credit.  It doesn’t only exist to become guacamole.  And it also happens to be full of fiber, potassium, vitamin E, and folic acid.  So there’s that.

This fried rice is pretty simple, and you could make it in one pot if you feel like it.  I think it’s ideal to cook the rice and egg in a separate pan from the chard and then combine them, though, so you get a really good texture on your rice.  As a side note, if you don’t already have cooked brown rice in the house, whip up a double batch and freeze half of it in a zip-locked bag.  Then the next time the hunger strikes for rice, you’re golden.

Chard Fried Rice with Avocado (serves 2)

 

call me lunch

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon miso (any color – I used brown rice miso)
  • 1 bunch chard (stems removed), leaves coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 2 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Sriracha or other hot sauce
  • 1 tsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 egg
  • handful of chopped cilantro
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil (optional)
  • toasted sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
  • 1 avocado, halved and thinly sliced

METHOD:

1.  Heat 2 teaspoons of the vegetable oil in a large skillet or pot over medium-high heat.  When it’s hot, add the scallions and miso.  Stir it around to break up the miso, and cook for about a minute.  Add the chopped chard and reduce heat to medium-low.  Stir carefully to distribute the scallions, miso, and oil among the greens.  Place a tight lid on the pot and let it cook.

2.  While the chard cooks, heat the remaining teaspoon of vegetable oil in a medium-sized skillet.  Add the rice and stir for a minute, then add the rice wine vinegar, Sriracha, and soy sauce.  Stir well to combine.  Cook for about two minutes, stirring frequently.

3.  Create a well in the middle of the rice and crack the egg into the pan.  When the white of the egg is just barely starting to set, stir the egg into the rice.  Continue to stir until the egg is cooked and well distributed throughout the rice.  Add the cilantro and stir it in.  Turn off the heat.

4.  Transfer the rice-egg-cilantro mixture into the pot with the chard, which will have released its juices in the pan.  Stir everything together well and turn off the heat.  Stir in the sesame oil if using, and serve garnished with toasted sesame seeds and avocado slices.