Great cucumber and avocado salad

The wonderful food blog, “Smitten Kitchen” has come up with a version of a lovely and easy salad to have either as a main course or as a side to some grilled protein.
The salad is gluten-free, dairy-free and vegetarian and takes about 5 minutes to put together.
There are many ways to adapt it, too. You can add some thinly sliced Romaine hearts for bulk, but still leave it predominantly a cucumber and avocado bowl.
The scallions weren’t in the original recipe, so if they’re not your “thing” skip them.
If you’re not into lime, cilantro or parsley, try lemon and dill.
If you’re not into mayo, try using yogurt…

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Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side

3/4 to 1lb seedless cucumber, washed and chopped into chunks
2 thin or 1 regular scallions, thinly sliced
1 large avocado, pitted and diced
2 tbsp mayonnaise (I use Vegennaise)
Juice of half a lime, plus more to taste
Salt and hot sauce (we used Sriracha) to taste
Chopped cilantro or flat-leaf parsley to garnish

Combine the cucumber, scallions and avocado in a bowl.
Whisk together the mayonnaise, lime and seasonings, adjusting levels to taste.
Drizzle the salad with the dressing and garnish with cilantro or parsley.

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Avocado toast with cilantro-lime-cashew cream

A wonderful light meal. Avocado on toast is one of my favorite things and this Cilantro-Lime-Cashew cream is perfect to drizzle over it.

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Serves 4

4 pieces of bread
1 ripe avocado
1/4 cup Cilantro Lime Cashew Cream (see below for recipe)
freshly squeezed lime juice
sea salt & coarse ground pepper
crushed red pepper {optional}

Toast your bread.
Slice your avocado in half, lengthwise and remove the pit. Scoop out the avocado flesh and spread it or slice it onto the toast. Each piece of toast takes roughly 1/4 of the avocado. Squeeze some fresh lime juice on top of the avocado to prevent it from browning.
Drizzle the cilantro-lime-cashew cream generously over the avocado and top with a pinch of sea salt, pepper and crushed red pepper.

Cilantro Lime Cashew Cream

This creaminess literally takes 5 minutes to whiz up and you’re going to want to put it on everything. It makes about 1 cup, so make extra you’ll want it.

1 packed cup of fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 cup raw cashews
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 lime, all the juice + zest

Blend everything together on high until smooth. Store it in an air-tight container, refrigerated, for up to a week.

Patricia Wells’ Zucchini Carpaccio with Avocado and Pistachios

When you just can’t look another zucchini in the face, put it on a pedestal. Raw zucchini can be spongy, bitter and strangely sticky, so pamper it like Patricia Wells does here, by shaving it into delicate ribbons, then bathing them in a lemony marinade.

A trusted mandoline makes a big difference here — and if you don’t have one, you’re better off opting for a vegetable peeler than a sharp knife. You want planks as thin as flower petals.

There will be leftover lemon salt. Swirl it into buttered pasta; dust it on blanched green beans; put a pinch on a dark chocolate cookie.

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Serves 4 (as a meal) Lemon Zest Salt:

1 tbsp lemon zest, preferably organic
1 tbsp fine sea salt

Combine the lemon zest and salt in a spice grinder, and grind into a fine powder. Transfer to a small jar and close the lid. (Store, sealed in the jar, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. After that the lemon flavor will begin to fade.)

Salad:

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon Lemon Zest Salt
3 tablespoons best-quality pistachio oil (such as Leblanc) or extra-virgin olive oil
4 small, fresh zucchini (about 4 ounces each), rinsed and trimmed at both ends
1 large ripe avocado
1/2 cup salted pistachios
Leaves from 4 fresh lemon thyme or regular thyme sprigs, with flowers if possible
Fleur de sel

In a small jar with a lid, combine the lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon Lemon Zest Salt. Cover with the lid and shake to blend. Add the oil and shake to blend.
With a mandoline, vegetable peeler, or very sharp chef’s knife slice the zucchini lengthwise as thin as possible. Arrange the slices on a platter and pour the dressing over them. Tilt the platter back and forth to coat the slices evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes, so the zucchini absorbs the dressing and does not dry out.
Halve, pit, and peel the avocado, and cut it lengthwise into very thin slices. Carefully arrange the slices of marinated zucchini on individual salad plates, alternating with the avocado slices, slightly overlapping them. Sprinkle with the pistachio nuts. Garnish with the thyme leaves and flowers and fleur de sel.
Serve and enjoy!

Asian brown rice, avocado, ginger and peanut bowl

The combination of crunchy peanuts, creamy avocados, and the sweet bite of ginger make for a dish that’s full of complex flavors, yet easy to make. Serve it on its own or with tofu for a vegetarian meal, or add grilled chicken, fish, or shrimp.

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1 cup short grain brown rice (or leftover cooked short grain brown rice, then miss the rice-cooking part of the recipe))
Kosher salt, to taste
3 1⁄2 tbsp soy sauce
3 1⁄2 tbsp. mirin
3 1⁄2 tbsp. sake
1 tbsp. sugar
1 cup cilantro leaves and tender stems, plus more for garnish
1⁄2 cup dry roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
1⁄4 cup pickled ginger, thinly sliced. (Available from the Asian section at your supermarket. It’s in a glass jar)
5 scallions, thinly sliced
2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and thinly sliced
1 English cucumber, peeled, seeded, halved lengthwise and sliced into 1⁄4” pieces (1/2 moon shape)
Zest and juice of 1 lime

Rinse the rice in a strainer under cold running water for 30 seconds. Bring 12 cups water to a boil in a large pot with a tight-fitting lid over high heat. Add the rice, stir it once, and boil, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Pour the rice into a strainer over the sink; cool to room temperature.

Combine soy sauce, mirin, sake, and sugar in a 2-qt saucepan over medium-high; cook until sugar has dissolved, 3-5 minutes. Cool the sauce slightly. (It is a teriyaki sauce)

Combine rice, teriyaki sauce (You may only need half of it at the most. taste to tell), the cilantro, peanuts, ginger, scallions, avocados, cucumber, and zest and juice in a bowl; transfer to a serving platter and garnish with cilantro.

** I had some leftover salmon in the fridge and put chunks of it in the salad and it was delicious!

Spicy sesame Asian guacamole

Who doesn’t like guacamole? Well, as I’m an Asian food nut, this recipe ticks all the boxes for me, especially if it is served with sesame rice crackers or fried wontons.
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Serves 4 and the total time is 15 minutes.
3 ripe Haas avocados
1/3 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions,white and light green parts only
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tsp chile-garlic sauce
1 1/2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 tsp black sesame seeds
Coarsely ground black pepper to taste
Sesame rice crackers for serving

Cut each avocado in half lengthwise. Remove the pit from the avocado and discard. Remove the avocado from the skin and place the avocado flesh in a bowl.
Add the red onion, scallions, lime juice, chile-garlic sauce, soy sauce, ginger, 1 tsp of the sesame seeds and the sesame oil.
Mash with a fork until half smooth and half chunky. Taste and add salt and pepper if desired.
Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 tsp black sesame seeds and serve immediately.

Chilled spicy cucumber, avocado and coconut milk soup

Give me anything curried and I’ll walk miles for it!  I love this because there is no cooking and it tastes as if you’ve been slaving for hours in the kitchen. You can vary the garnishes.

 

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Two 12-ounce cucumbers—peeled, seeded and chopped
2 Hass avocados, coarsely chopped ( try just one to start with as it may be too thick with 2)
2 teaspoons Thai green or yellow curry paste (Try less to start with and taste it)
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
One 13-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
3 ½ cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (use lemon if you cannot find limes)
Salt
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, for garnish
10 cilantro sprigs, for garnish

In a food processor, puree the cucumbers until smooth. Add the avocados, curry paste, sugar, lime zest and chili.
Process until blended. Add 3 1/2 cups of chicken broth, the coconut milk and lime juice and process until smooth. Transfer the soup to a large bowl and season with salt. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a skillet, toast the coconut over low heat, stirring a few times, until lightly browned and crisp, 3 minutes. Let cool.
Ladle the soup into small bowls or cups, garnish with the toasted coconut flakes and cilantro sprigs and serve.

Chilled corn soup with prawns, avocado and tomato relish

Chilled corn soup with avocado, shrimp and tomato relish

This is the season for gorgeous chilled soups, whether you serve them in shooter glasses or bowls like this picture. I will be posting several of these over the next few summer months, as I love starting a meal with a refreshing and zingy flavor.  You can make them well in advance so they are ideal for dinner parties or spontaneous lunches. Recently we held a house concert here at our home and I made my chilled cucumber soup (also on this blog) and set out 40 shooter glasses and two large pitchers of the soup. There was a constant group hovering over the pitchers refilling their glasses.

Serves 4
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 large leeks, thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)
3 ears corn, husked, silk removed
3 cups chicken broth
1 avocado, pitted, peeled and diced
6 oz grape tomatoes, quartered lengthwise
8 to 10 leaves fresh, thinly-sliced basil
8 oz small or medium prawns, peeled and de-veined, tails removed
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp Fresh ground black pepper
2 tbsp fresh lime juice

In a large saucepan on low, heat oil until melted. Add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes or until softened.
Meanwhile, over a large bowl, cut the corn kernels from the corn cobs (A sharp, serrated knife would work well). With a heavy knife, cut each cob into 2 to 3 pieces.
Add the corn kernels and pieces of cob to the pot with the leeks. Add the chicken broth and 1 cup of water, and increase the heat to high. Once boiling, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 25 minutes.
Remove the pot from heat and discard the cobs. Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes, then purée soup with an immersion blender. (Alternatively, carefully purée soup in batches in a food processor or blender.) Transfer to a large bowl, cover and chill for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
In a small bowl, toss avocado, tomatoes and basil
Heat a nonstick skillet on medium. Season the prawns with salt and pepper, add to the skillet and cook for 3-4 minutes, turning once, until just opaque.
Just before serving, chop the prawns coarsely and stir the lime juice into chilled soup. Ladle into bowls and garnish with avocado-tomato mixture and prawns, dividing evenly.