FOWNES: Avocado envy can have a happy ending
Some things always look better from the other side of the street, or in my case, the other side of the table.
For that reason, my husband and I have an unofficial rule when we dine out: Each of us has to order something different from the menu so we can share a little taste (or two or three) from each other’s plates. (Heaven help him if I like his dinner more than mine!)
It’s a little different situation, however, when you’re out with friends.
I mean, you have to be pretty close pals not to mind someone like me poking her fork around in your lunch.
Case in point: A few weekends ago, I went on a tour of wineries in the Annapolis Valley with some girlfriends.
We stopped at Domaine de Grand Pre’s Le Caveau restaurant for lunch, and although I absolutely loved the spicy Banh Mi sandwich I had ordered, I was really starting to covet the salad with avocado dressing that a few of my friends were oohing and aahing over.
Oh sure, my sweet tablemates offered, and I politely accepted, a leaf or two so that I could sample the spectacular dressing. But those tiny mouthfuls only served to fill me with regret that I hadn’t ordered one of those salads for my very own.
But it might be a few weeks or even months until I can get back to the Valley, so until then, I’ll have to settle for some experimentation in my own kitchen. Here is my little spin on a summer salad tossed in avocado dressing.
Best part when you make it yourself? There’s no need to share with someone like me.
SUMMER SALAD WITH CREAMY AVOCADO DRESSING
6 cups assorted young greens
250 ml (1 cup) shelled edamame
1 small bunch asparagus
Grilled fennel bulb (optional )
Bacon, cooked in microwave until crisp, crumbled
Tortilla ‘croutons’ (recipe below)
Shavings of Parmesan cheese
CREAMY AVOCADO DRESSING:
(Avocado gives this dressing a creamy, smooth consistency, but there is no cream in this dressing, just heart-healthy olive oil and omega-rich avocado.)
1 large ripe avocado (or 2-3 small ones)
3-4 plump cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1 green onion
Juice of half a lemon, or more, to taste
15 ml (1 tbsp) white wine vinegar
155 ml (2/3 cup) olive oil
125 ml (½ cup) cilantro leaves and stems
5 ml (1 tsp) Worcestershire sauce
5 ml (1 tsp) Dijon mustard
Couple dashes Tabasco sauce
5 ml (1 tsp) anchovy paste (optional)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tortillas — flour or corn — torn into bite-sized pieces
Salt and pepper
Place torn tortilla bits in a bowl and drizzle with just enough olive oil to lightly coat. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and chili powder. Spread onto a baking sheet and bake at 400 F for 10-15 minutes, until lightly toasted and crunchy. Set aside to cool. Store in an airtight container.
SALAD: If you plan to serve this salad with grilled fennel bulb, make that first. Trim away root end as well as the green tops until you are left with just the bulb. Slice lengthwise into thick slabs, place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, and broil or grill until tender. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. (You can also do this outside on the grill.)
Next, blanch the edamame beans and plunge in ice water to cool them down. Do the same with the asparagus after breaking them into thirds. Drain well and spread out on a few paper towels or a clean tea towel to remove excess water.
DRESSING: Place garlic cloves and green onion in the bowl of a food processor and chop until fine. Slice the avocado in two, remove the pit and scoop flesh into food processor bowl, along with all remaining ingredients. Pulse until creamy and smooth. At this point, the dressing will be fairly thick. Thin as you wish with a few dribbles of cold water. Taste and adjust flavourings, adding more lemon juice or salt and pepper.
ASSEMBLE THE SALAD: Place greens in a large bowl. Gently toss with just enough of the asparagus dressing to lightly coat the leaves. Divide the dressed greens among four salad plates. Scatter edamame beans and asparagus over each plate. Add grilled fennel (feel free to cut slices into more manageable pieces). Finally, garnish each plate with crumbled bacon, Parmesan cheese shavings and tortilla croutons. Serve with wedges of fresh lemon, fresh cracked pepper and hunks of crusty bread. Pass additional dressing at the table.
Nadine Fownes is an editor at The Chronicle Herald. You can get in touch by email at email@example.com, by subscribing to her posts at facebook.com/NadineFownesComfortFood or by following her on Twitter at @lobstahchowdah.