Avocado Pie

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Yes, you read it right. Avocado pie. And for once, I’m not talking savory. I came across my old friend’s hand-written recipe recently and had to make it this summer. Avocado pie is unique and simply delightful.

Way back in the 70’s I lived in Santa Barbara, California, where I attended college. I had friends who co-habitated in a large house, and I visited them quite often, probably because I was living in a mother-in-law cottage and enjoyed the space, and the music.

These folks were all wonderfully talented bohemian artists, writers, and musicians – a nice change from the nerdy geology majors with whom I attended classes. (Nothing against nerds, as I was one of them.)

One friend stood out for three reasons. First, he looked just like Jesus Christ. Second, he was a classical pianist who was as talented as Van Cliburn. Third, he made this pie, and it’s from him that I got this recipe.


Above from the left: my sister, myself, and Jesus Christ, circa 1975?

So fast forward a million years and I have a cooking blog, and I’ll bet a small minority of you have ever had such a thing as an avocado pie. I only say that because, I’ve never come across one, and I follow hundreds of blogs. It’s a dessert – it has nothing to do with guacamole. And it’s so simple to make.

First you must make a graham cracker crust.

Graham Cracker Crust

5 ounces graham crackers
1/2 cup white sugar
1 stick or 4 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 375 Fahrenheit. Choose an 8 or 9″ shallow pie plate.

Place the graham crackers in the jar of a food processor along with the sugar. Process until smooth.

Place the crumbs in a medium bowl and place the stick of butter on the crumbs. Microwave gently until the butter melts.

Stir everything until evenly combined. Scrape the mixture into the pie plate.

Using a large spoon, begin spreading and flattening the crumbs into a firm crust, working it up the sides of the pie plate. Bake the crust for approximately 12 minutes – it will be firm and golden in color.

If it has puffed a little, smooth it down with the large spoon.

Cool the pie crust and meanwhile prepare the filling.

As the recipe states, blend together the avocado, sweetened condensed milk and lime juice until smooth, then pour the result green glop into the pie crust.

The pie must chill at least four hours or overnight before serving.

I served mine with a little squiggle of diluted crème fraiche.

The pie is so sweet that it really needs the crème fraiche.

It’s also quite soft. If I was a confident baker I would figure out how to incorporate a little gelatin into the avocado pie filling.

As I mentioned, this pie is sweet. Normally sweetened condensed milk is not a favorite ingredient to use, but I wanted to make the recipe as I remember it. Some lime zest and a little less lime juice to maybe help the filling be thicker, but it’s not a lime pie. Just don’t try and cut large pieces!

Campechana

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I had a favorite menu item at our local country club’s restaurant that sadly disappeared when the chef moved on. It was campechana – a combination of shrimp and avocados in a zesty tomato sauce, served chilled with tortilla chips.

Never did I realize it was an actual “thing” until I googled it. Turns out, recipes for campechana are commonplace! By definition, it’s a seafood cocktail from Campeche, a coastal state in Mexico.

I immediately grabbed one of my Rick Bayless cookbooks, Mexico: One Plate at a Time, published in 2000, and if you look closely at the cover photo, there is the shrimp cocktail!!!

I have a soft spot for Rick Bayless for many reasons. He’s a passionate chef and student of Mexican cookery, who been married to his wife forever, with whom he’s collaborated on books. (As well as with their daughter!) So I respect that. He also does a lot of charitable work in Chicago and in Mexico and is a total nerd.

But mostly for this.

Fifteen years ago I took my daughter to Chicago for her 18th birthday. It was all about shopping, visiting the sites, and enjoying great meals. I had made reservations at Frontera, and Charlie Trotter’s for our two big nights out.

At Frontera, which was outstanding in every way, I saw that Rick Bayless himself was in the kitchen, and asked if we could say hello. And he was kind and took this memorable photo with Emma.

I decided to make the shrimp cocktail recipe that’s pictured on the book cover. It’s not called campechana but a ceviche, which seems odd because it doesn’t fit my definition of ceviche. But Mr. B. Knows his stuff, so I will not quibble.

Ceviche de Camaron
4 hefty servings

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 generous pound smallish shrimp, peeled, de-veined
1/2 medium white onion, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus several sprigs for garnish
1/2 cup ketchup
1 to 2 tablespoons vinegary Mexican bottled hot sauce
About 2 tablespoons olive oil, preferably extra-virgin (optional, but recommended to smooth out sharpness)
1 cup diced peeled cucumber or jicama (or 1/2 cup of each)
1 small ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and cubed

Bring 1 quart salted water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of the lime juice. Scoop in the shrimp, cover and let the water return to the boil. Immediately remove from the heat, set the lid askew and pour off all the liquid. Replace the cover and let the shrimp steam off the heat for 10 minutes.

Spread out the shrimp in a large glass or stainless steel bowl to cool completely. Toss the shrimp with the remaining 1/2 lime juice, cover and refrigerate for about an hour.


In a small strainer, rinse the onion under cold water, then shake off the excess liquid.

Add to the shrimp bowl along with the cilantro, ketchup, hot sauce, optional olive oil, cucumber and/or jícama and avocado.

Taste and season with salt, usually about 1/2 teaspoon. Cover and refrigerate if not serving immediately. Spoon the ceviche into sundae glasses, martini glasses, or small bowls: garnish with sprigs of cilantro and slices of lime.

Serve with tostadas, tortilla chips or saltines to enjoy alongside.

The ceviche is best made the day it is served.

If you want a more Southwestern-inspired Campechana, I found one on Epicurious that I’m trying next. It has roasted green chiles and includes crab meat!

So what I’ve gathered, whether it’s called Campechana, or a seafood cocktail, or a ceviche-style shrimp cocktail, the basic ingredients are similar, being shrimp and avocado in (typically) a red sauce. And from there you can get as spicy and zingy and creative as you wish!

The campechana I remember had no cucumber or jicama, but they added a great texture.

The only other difference I can detect from my campechana that I loved and this and other similar shrimp cocktail recipe is the amount of red sauce and the viscosity of the red sauce. I have to say I prefer a bit more sauciness than what’s in this recipe.

My Favorite Salad

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I eat a lot of salads throughout the year, even in the winter. I love all salad ingredients – lettuces, avocados, beets, raw vegetables, grilled meat or fish, some nuts or seeds and cheese… I love to mix them up and also pay great attention to my vinaigrettes.

But then, there’s this one salad I’ve actually made multiple times for friends. (My husband doesn’t eat salads.) I don’t remember the source of the recipe, because mine was a magazine recipe cut and glued to an index card from decades ago.

It’s a composed salad, and these are the ingredients: Barley, purple cabbage, carrots, celery, dried cherries, and feta cheese. Intrigued? I was, and now I’m hooked.

It’s very pretty served layered in a trifle dish, or any deep clear bowl. Each component is treated separately for maximum flavor.

The recipe is really in two parts. One part, the vinaigrette. The other part, the salad itself.

My Favorite Salad

vinaigrette:
In a small blender, combine
1 cup of good olive oil
1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar
Juice of 2 large lemons
2 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon of Dijon-style mustard
Salt
Blend until smooth.

salad:
2 cups hulled barley
Grated carrots, about 5 cups
1 whole purple cabbage, thinly sliced, about 5 cups
1/2 head celery, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups dried tart cherries
12 ounces crumbled goat cheese

First prepare the vinaigrette. Set aside at room temperature.


Cook the barley in 4 cups of water or broth if you prefer. Let cool. Once it’s almost room temperature, mix the barley with about 3 tablespoons of the vinaigrette and set aside.

Place the grated carrots in a small bowl and add about 2 tablespoons of vinaigrette, stir well, and set aside.

Place the cabbage in a large bowl and toss with about 2 tablespoons of vinaigrette. Have the rest of the ingredients handy.

Place the sliced celery in a smaller bowl and add a tablespoon of vinaigrette. Toss well and set aside.


Layer half of the barley in the bottom of your salad serving bowl or dish. Cover with the celery.

Then add half of the cherries. And top with half of the goat cheese.

Then cover with 1/2 of the cabbage. Then all of the carrots.

Then the remaining barley.

Top off with the last of the dried cherries and goat cheese.

Let the salad sit for at least an hour. Or, make it the day before and refrigerate it overnight, letting all of the flavors meld together. But serve at room temperature.


I also serve this salad with extra vinaigrette for those who want that extra hit of vinegar.

And, if this salad is for those who require protein, it is fabulous with added grilled chicken or avocado.

Mix and match your favorite ingredients – lentils would work instead of barley, for example – and I’m not a huge celery fan, which is why I only allowed one layer of it. But do include the dried cherries and goat cheese!

Avocado on Grilled Bread

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In 2012, my husband and I were visiting my daughter in London and we went out for breakfast. This is what my daughter ordered.

I took a photo of it because that’s always what I’ve done, even before blogging. It was just so pretty: mashed avocado spread on grilled bread, topped with oven-roasted tomatoes and feta cheese. My introduction to avocado toast.

So although slow to embrace food trends, like zoodles and cauliflower rice, I decided to (FINALLY) make avocado toast. It’s not like I knew it wouldn’t be wonderful! Avocados are one of my favorite foods.

Too bad I’m not super artistic, or I could jump on another trend and create art from avocados…

Here’s how I made mine.

Avocado on Grilled Bread

4 tablespoons oil, I used walnut oil
1 garlic clove, minced
Few sprigs of thyme
6 slices good bread, like Ciabatta
2 ripe but not over-ripe avocados
Fresh tomato slices
Salt
Pepper
Goat cheese
Fresh thyme leaves, optional

Warm the olive oil in a butter warmer with the garlic and thyme. Do not let the garlic brown or burn.

Heat a large, flat skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly brush the slices of bread with the garlic oil, and grill the bread face-down until browned. Place them on a serving plate and set aside.

Peel and de-pit the avocados. Scoop out the flesh and place in a medium bowl. Mash with a fork. Season with salt and pepper.

Only prepare the avocado right before serving.

To prepare the “toasts,” spread some of the mashed avocado on the grilled breads and smooth the tops.

Add sliced tomatoes, followed by a generous amount of crumbled goat cheese.

Drizzle the remaining garlic and thyme oil over the avocado toasts and serve immediately.

These are not only for breakfast or a snack or lunch. I can see these served as an hors d’oeuvres with some champagne or rosé!

Alternatively, oven roast small tomatoes in a gratin pan.

Or, use sun-dried tomatoes. It’s all wonderful!

If more protein is desired, one can always add an egg, or some smoked salmon. But I like the simplicity of this preparation.

Do not use inferior bread for these toasts. Use a ciabatta, sourdough, or a hearty multigrain.

These avocado toasts were honestly outstanding. If you love avocado, tomatoes, and feta, then you’ll love these too. Of course, you’ve probably made them already because you’re not stubborn! But I have to say that the garlic and thyme-infused walnut oil was a fantastic addition.

Public Service Announcement

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It was about twenty years ago when I first became aware of cooking shows on tv. Of course I grew up with Julia Child and the Galloping Gourmet, but those shows were few and far between.

The Food Network was the actual first food channel I think – jumping on the culinary bandwagon to satisfy our love of learning about cooking and various cuisines.

There were so many formats back then to the shows. There was Bobby Flay barbequeing away on his NYC rooftop, everything from chicken to pigs, along with a special pitcher of margaritas made with grilled peaches. There were occasional shots of his beautiful model wife carrying in baskets of jalapeños or roasted tomatoes. (We all know how that ended.)

There was Emeril LaGasse, with his talk-show style cooking show complete with a live audience with a jazz band, like a daytime foodie version of Johnny Carson. And his Bam! that he yelled every time he threw something in a pan caught on throughout the country. It actually annoyed me, so I didn’t watch him.

There was Ina Garten, cooking from her Hampton home, with field trips to her personal florist in a nearby quaint town and to her seafood monger by the sea, so that she could put on pretty parties. She managed to do her whole show in a monotone voice, all while smiling, with sneak peaks at her poor husband, who obviously didn’t want to be filmed, forcing the fact that they really still get along after 50 years of marriage. We believe you, Ina!

There was Iron Chef, the original Japanese version with “Chairman” Kaga, who ordered two contestants to a major cook-off focusing on one ingredient. The “battle” took place in a giant stadium, overseen by the chairman, who seriously looked like he was ready to go to war, with a saber strapped to his uniform. Plus there was color commentary from a man on the ground bouncing between contestants. There were Japanese judges, usually including a geisha who only managed to giggle throughout the show and, mind you, this was all dubbed in English. Even the giggling.

Then there was Sandra Lee. Enough said.

I bring all of this up because for many of us, myself included, this was our first glimpse inside restaurant kitchens and inside the minds of chefs. The shows allowed their creativity to shine, as well as their culinary skills. As impressive as they all were, and are, it actually inhibited a lot of home cooks because they felt that they couldn’t perform like tv chefs.

During that same time I did a lot of cooking demonstrations and gave talks about cooking, encouraging people to get back into the kitchen. I constantly explained that what tv chefs or restaurant chefs do, is nothing like what we do as home cooks. It’s apples and oranges, thankfully, because I’ve never wanted to be a chef.

I think what’s mostly intimidating to people is the way a chef can dice an onion in one second flat while talking to the tv camera. Well if I have a guest in my home who comes at me with a timer, they’re getting kicked out. It’s just not about speed or showing off.

I know we’ve all experienced great messes on our stove when we’ve tried to flip over a skillet of vegetables like they do on tv and half of them didn’t make it back into the pan. Does that make us bad cooks? Of course not!

Following is my public service announcement. It involves a knife. Any knife – sharp or dull. Anything that is done with a knife can potentially be dangerous. Like cutting or stabbing.

Years ago I decided to de-pit an avocado like they do on tv. (I have since come to the conclusion that Bobby Flay uses a stunt double.)

I opened up the avocado lengthwise, held the half with the pit in my left hand, and just like on tv, slammed my sharp chef knife into the pit with my right hand. All it takes is a little twist of the knife and the pit can easily be removed.

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Well, except when the knife doesn’t make contact with the pit and instead slips off the avocado and lands across your hand. Fortunately I didn’t have to go to the emergency room but let me tell you – I never did this again.

And definitely don’t think you can stab the damn pit.

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As long as I’m discussing lessons learned, a mandoline is also a very dangerous kitchen tool. A couple of years ago I posted a photo of my finger dripping blood after going just a bit too far slicing a potato with my mandoline. You just always think there’s a little more there than there actually is!

My friend Richard recommended a kevlar glove, and it is a lifesaver. Perhaps literally. Even if I want to slice one little carrot, I put on my glove! I will alway be thankful for Richard’s recommendation, and to this day my fingertips are intact.

Roasted Beets

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There have been times that, when commenting on recipe posts in which beets are roasted, that the beets aren’t really roasted. We’ve all done it – we place whole, trimmed beets in a foil package with a little olive oil and salt, steam-cook them till tenderness, remove the peels, and voila! But they’re not really roasted, are they?!!

So I set out to actually roast beets, as one would potatoes or broccoli. I know they will be good, like all roasted goodies. My husband claims that roasted broccoli is better than candy!
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So here’s what I did.

Really Roasted Beets

3 beets
Olive oil
Black pepper
Salt

Preheat oven to 375 degree roast setting, or 400 degrees.

Trim tops and bottoms of beets.

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Peel the beets completely.

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Chop the beets into 12ths. Or just make fairly uniform pieces of the beets, any shape you prefer. Place the beets in a baking dish, and drizzle some olive oil over them. Sprinkle them generously with pepper and salt.

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Place the baking dish in the oven. After about 15 minutes, use a spoon and toss them around to brown the pieces on different sides. Continue roasting for 10 or so minutes. They should be nicely browned, but also piece a chunk to test for tenderness.

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If they’re still firm, turn off the oven and let the baking dish sit in the oven for 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature.

I used them in a salad so as to let the roasted beets really “shine.”

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For the vinaigrette, I used some beet juice strained from a can of beets, along with an equal part of leftover Riesling and reduced it. I then added red wine vinegar, olive oil, a little heavy cream, and a pinch of salt.

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If you want recipes for other “reduction” vinaigrettes, check out Beet Vinaigrette, or Beet Apple Vinaigrette.

The roasted beets are exactly what roasted beets should be. Tender beets with a lovely roasted exterior!

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Chopped Brussels Sprouts Salad

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Recently I had brunch at a restaurant in Fort Worth, Texas, and I was so intrigued by their Brussels sprouts salad, that it ended up being my brunch meal. I surprised myself, because I typically get something breakfasty for brunch, but the interesting-sounding salad won me over.

I was smart enough to snap a couple iPhone photos, shown below, so I would remember the ingredients, all of which were chopped into similar sizes except for the cheese.


So today I’m “copying” this salad to enjoy again and calling it a “chopped” salad. But I’m making one change. I’m cooking the Brussels sprouts. My pieces in the salad were at the most parboiled, and as a result, hard and bitter. It almost ruined the salad for me.

I’m still glad I ordered this unique salad, though, and was excited to try it out at home!
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Chopped Brussels Sprouts Salad

1 pound Brussels sprouts
8 ounces, approximately, grilled chicken
6 small, whole cooked beets
4 hard-boiled eggs
2 good-sized avocados
Handful of golden raisins
8 ounces Manchego or Idiazabal
4 ounces Marcona almonds

To begin, trim the ends off of the Brussels sprouts. Cut the larger ones in half, if necessary, so that they are fairly uniform in size. Place them in a steamer pan and steam them until just tender. I prefer steaming over boiling because I feel they’re less water logged.
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Place the Brussels sprouts in a large bowl and let cool. Meanwhile, cut the chicken, beets, eggs and avocado into similarly-sized pieces.

Add the chicken, beets, eggs, and avocado.



Add the raisins and the cheese. I cut the cheese in smaller pieces than the other main ingredients.

Then add the almonds. Make a light dressing of your choice. I used some olive oil and a champagne vinegar.

This is the champagne vinegar I used. If you see it, don’t buy it. I had never used it until I made this salad. As I was sprinkling it on the salad I got a whiff of it. Nasty stuff. Terrible aftertaste. I’m pretty sure I got it at Central Market.
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I quickly switched to a white balsamic vinegar, and I’m really glad I did. I actually poured that awful vinegar down the drain.

Toss the salad gently and serve at room temperature.

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You can sprinkle some finely ground almonds on the top if you wish.

This salad was even better than I remember it.
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The beets are a little problematic because they want to color the other ingredients purple. And the hard boiled eggs are impossible to cut neatly and keep from crumbling.


But flavor-wise, the salad is wonderful. I especially love the almonds and golden raisins! I will make this again!

Summer Sea Bass

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I actually went to the store to purchase salmon, because I promised Stefan, from the blog Stefan Gourmet, that I would sous vide salmon. I’ve used my beloved sous vide demi for a variety of meats, but never fish. When I met Stefan in person, he made me promise I’d try salmon.

But, they had no salmon. Not really surprising. I kind of live in the middle of nowhere. We’re landlocked here, so seafood is always a challenging purchase. But I also remember going to the store in this town many years ago with two different grocery lists. If I was having company, I planned two different menus, because most likely a significant ingredient was not available. Like, green beans or cilantro. Or pork.

Fortunately, grocery shopping has improved from those days, but honestly, I shouldn’t have high expectations from the seafood department.

So, no salmon. But I spotted a beautiful filet of sea bass. I always remember Julia Child suggesting that you ask the guy who works seafood who doesn’t really care about seafood fish monger to smell the fish you want to buy, to make sure that it is fresh. Great advice, but I’ve never been brave enough to do this. Fortunately the bass smelled really good when I got a piece of the filet home.

It’s a truly beautiful white fish. I got Stefan’s recommendation for sous vide’ing the filet. After all, he is the King of Sous Vide. Water temperature 118 degrees Farenheit, for 20 minutes. One end of the filet was quite thick, otherwise 10-15 minutes will do it.

It’s quite simple. You set the temperature, vacuum seal the fish, and watch the time.

Afterwards, pat the fish filet with paper towels.

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Meanwhile, make a topping for the fish. This really isn’t a salsa, or even Southwestern, in my mind, mostly because I didn’t use hot sauce or chile peppers. To me, I wanted the flavors of summer to shine with the sea bass.

I mixed together purple onion, avocado, freshly cooked corn, tomatoes, and cilantro. Plus a squeeze of lime. Simple. Mango or peach would have worked with the other ingredients, but I hadn’t planned ahead when I purchased the sea bass. Stir the ingredients well and set aside.

To prepare the fish to serve, only a slight bit or searing is necessary, since the sous vide does the cooking. The searing just adds a little color. You can sear as much as you wish; I went for a modest sear.

I love fish cooked in butter, but because of the summer-inspired topping, I decided on olive oil. Simply add about 2 tablespoons of oil to a skillet and turn on the heat to its maximum. You might want to turn on your ventilation system as well.

Add the fish, which I cut into four pieces to make things easier, to the skillet. Stefan suggested only searing on the skin side, but I did both. The fish flesh was very firm, so I knew it wouldn’t fall apart from being flipped over in the skillet.

Serve the sea bass immediately along with the summer-inspired topping.

I paired the meal with a Tecate, which is one of my favorite beers. A crisp Riesling or Pinot Blanc would be wonderful as well.

As you can see, the fish is glistening. It’s perfectly cooked – tender and moist.

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This was so successful and impressive. I will definitely use my sous vide machine for more fish experiments. After all, we must eat!!!

Strawberry Salad

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As I mentioned in my strawberry vinegar post, a green salad topped with fresh strawberries is extraordinary, but only in the springtime when it’s strawberry season. Any other time of year it just doesn’t seem right to me. A green salad with strawberries is also very pretty.

It was because of strawberry-topped salads that I was inspired to make a strawberry vinegar. I thought the layered effect of the strawberry-infused balsamic vinegar, along with the ripened strawberries would be a nice complement to greens.

For some crunch, you can add toasted walnuts or pecans, like I did, and crumbled bleu cheese or feta for extra deliciousness. Today I chose feta. I also included avocado slices for protein, plus a few radish slices for even more color. But other than that, I kept the salad simple in order for the ingredients to shine.
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If you don’t have a strawberry-infused vinegar, but want to make the salad, I’d keep the dressing simple. No strong-flavored dressings, just oil and vinegar. But you have choices there as well. You can use a good olive oil, like I did, or even a nut oil, like hazelnut or walnut. These oils are not only for autumnal salads because their flavors are mild. Even an orange-infused oil would be good in this salad, since it’s also mild. Vinegar-wise, I’d use a light-flavored vinegar, like a red wine or apple cider variety.

After one week of the fresh strawberries infusing white balsamic vinegar, it was time to decant. I tasted the vinegar first to make sure the flavor was right, and indeed it was. And just like the strawberry vodka I made last strawberry season, the color of the strawberries drained into the vinegar, so it’s really a lovely vinegar to use as well.

If the strawberries hadn’t faded in color so much, I would have used them in a chutney, but they just weren’t pretty enough, as you can see in the above left photograph.


For the salad, I used a butter lettuce – the kind that you can buy with the roots attached. I have some lettuce growing outside, but just not enough yet, thanks to our extended winter. I added the avocado, sliced strawberries, toasted pecans, and then sprinkled the feta on top.

Then I simply drizzled olive oil and the strawberry vinegar on top.


Plus a sprinkle of coarse salt.

You can always add black pepper as well.

Verdict: Fabulous! I will definitely keep making strawberry-infused vinegar and use it on my spring and summer salads. I can imagine it on grilled vegetables as well!

Black Bean Salad, variations

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I use black beans all the year round. They’re delicious and versatile, and they’re also healthy. I make black beans from scratch, refried black beans, black bean soup, black bean gratins, black bean dips, black bean enchiladas and black bean flans. Fortunately, everyone in my family loves black beans.

In the summer I tend to throw black beans along with other goodies together to make salads – especially when I have company. And it’s so surprising how well these salads go over. You can make them ahead of time and they’re so easy!!!

These black bean salads are vegetarian, but you can always serve grilled chicken or shrimp to top the salad, for those who desire more protein.

So here are three versions of a black bean salad. The first is extremely easy, and a little more effort is required for the next two versions. I just want you to know that no matter what you do, it will work! Use the ingredients you love and get creative!

Summer Black Bean Salad, version 1

2 cans black beans, well drained
1 can whole corn, well drained
1 fresh tomato, seeded, diced
1 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper
Fresh cilantro

For this super easy salad, combine the black beans, corn and tomato together in a large bowl. Add the tomato, the juice of the lemon, and the olive oil.
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Then season with salt and pepper and give everything a gentle toss.

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If you want, the salad can be made ahead of time and sit and room temperature up to an hour before serving. If you need to refrigerate the salad, don’t add the tomatoes until the last minute before serving. Especially if you refrigerate the salad overnight. Toss again, taste for seasoning, and then serve at room temperature.
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note: If you want this salad more Southwestern inspired, add about 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, and 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander. And then add a small can of chopped green chilies. Super fast and easy!

Summer Black Bean Salad, version 2

2 cans black beans, well drained
1 can whole corn, well drained
1 small zucchini, diced
1 small red bell pepper, diced
3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 small purple onion, finely chopped
2 jalapenos, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lime
4 tablespoons olive oil
Chopped cilantro
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons salt
Cayenne pepper, optional

In a large bowl, combine the beans, corn, zucchini, red bell pepper, tomatoes, purple onion, jalapeno and garlic. Toss together gently. Then add the lemon and lime juices, olive oil, cilantro, and seasoning. Toss again gently.
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As with the above salad, let sit at room temperature before serving, if you wish, so that the flavors come together. Then serve at room temperature.

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Summer Black Bean Salad, version 3

This salad is mostly like the last salad, with all of the fun goodies included, but the dressing is different. For this salad I used the Green Goddess dressing that I posted recently.

You don’t have to use this dressing, you can just add some chopped avocado to the salad if you prefer, but I liked the addition of the creamy dressing. It’s an option. But it’s a really good option. It’s just a little more work to make the dressing. I actually liked the green goddess dressing so much that I whipped up a batch! That’s why there’s a bottle of it in the photos.
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I actually meant to roast some fresh corn on the cob for this last salad but I completely forgot. That would have been instead of using the canned corn. But it just goes to show that you can create your own salad and make it your own. Use the ingredients that you love, whether they’re canned or not. And season how you wish as well. You’re the one eating the salad!!! Enjoy!

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note: With any of the these salads, vinegar can definitely be used instead of the lemon and lime juices. It’s just that lemon and lime juices go so well with beans. It’s just a choice.