Cucumber, Tomato and Avocado Salad

This recipe is a great starter or side-dish. The flavors are light and crisp, and the fact that you can prepare this dish in about 5 minutes makes it even more lovable. You see that post below this one for the Baked Fontina and Smoked Mozzarella? Yeah, I served this bad boy alongside that sizzling and savory dish. Can you say perfection? :)

Recipe:

2 cucumbers
1 cup diced tomato or cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup thinly diagonally sliced green onion or thinly sliced sweet onion (or more)
1 avocado (ripe)
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice (optional, for tossing with avocado)
about 1 T good-quality balsamic vinegar
about 1 T good-quality olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Chop up your cucumbers, tomatoes, onion and avocado and toss them in a salad bowl. Squeeze the lemon juice on top of your veggie mixer to prevent the avocado from browning – and who doesn’t like a little lemon flavor? I know I do! Next, drizzle your mixture with the vinegar and olive, season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

Baked Fontina and Smoked Mozzarella with Thyme and Rosemary

Oh. My. Goodness. This was so delicious, if I do say so myself. Nick and I recently dined at North, in Arcadia – it quickly became one of our faves. They have an appetizer called the “Bread and Cheese Plate” – when we ordered it we figured we would be getting a selection of cheeses, some olives, chutney and bread; but what we got would be so much better.

While sipping on a lovely red wine, our jaws dropped to the floor when we saw a cast-iron skillet of cheesy goodness and beautifully grilled artisan bread slices. Needless to say, we were in heaven. This dish was so delish, that I couldn’t stop thinking about it days after we had been there. Naturally, I took a stab at creating it at home and it was my favorite dish that I’ve made to date.

I borrowed this recipe from Ina Garten, but added some twists to it. My recipe is below.

  • 1 pound Italian Fontina Val d’Aosta cheese, rind removed and 1-inch-diced
  • 1 pound smoked mozzarella, 1-inch-diced
  • 1/4 cup white truffle oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 crusty French baguette, grilled and sliced

Directions

Preheat the broiler and position the oven rack 5 inches from the heat.

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Distribute the cubes of Fontina and Smoked Mozzarella evenly in a 12-inch cast-iron pan. Drizzle on the truffle oil. Combine the garlic, thyme, and rosemary and sprinkle it over the cheese and truffle oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper and place the pan under the broiler for 6 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbling and starts to brown.

Serve the baked cheese family-style-right out of the oven in the cast-iron pan with crusty chunks of bread for everyone to dip.

Be Kind…

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The Kind Diet is a book by the fabulous, Alicia Silverstone, a super-vegan for over 15 years, that is filled with yummy recipes. I am a huge fan of cheese and yogurt, so I was hesitant to even purchase this book – I’m glad I did. After I opened up this book and saw all of these delicious and healthy recipes, I decided I wanted to try it. I mean, Cher Horowitz  basically molded my 3rd grade jargon with her “as ifs” from the movie, Clueless, ooo Classic!… so why wouldn’t I take her advice on this diet? My first dish of this adventure is the Brooklyn Pad Thai.

This quick dish is really simple to make. I used Annie Chun’s whole wheat rice noodles and used Wild Wood teriyaki marinated tofu (so yummy) . I the tofu into a wok with some peanut oil and cooked them until they were golden brown and crispy. Then tossed in some red onion—thinly sliced, garlic and finely minced lemongrass. The recipe didn’t call for any broccoli or mushrooms but I threw those in just to give it some more color and texture. I added some bean sprouts, the noodles and some extra sauce during the last two minutes of cooking.  Just to make it fancy, I cut up some lime wedges and fresh cilantro for a garnish. This dish took about 25 minutes from start to finish. Speedy and yummy. ;) Full recipe below:

Vegan Pad Thai:

450g rice noodles

For the sauce:
6 tablespoons tamari
6 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons tomato puree
2 tablespoons chilli sauce
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons tamarind concentrate or lime juice

For the pad Thai:
6 tablespoons ground nut oil (we just used vegetable oil)
450g tofu drained and pressed and cut into small triangles
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon lemongrass, finely chopped
125 g bean sprouts
8 spring onions. sliced
2 small dried red chillies, crumbled
50g chopped roasted peanuts
4 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
Lime wedges for serving.

Method:
-Prepare the rice noodles according to the directions on the packet.
-Mix together the ingredients for the sauce.
Preheat a large nonstick frypan or wok over moderate-high heat, then quickly add the tofu. Stir fry for for 4 – 5 minutes, until the tofu is crisp on the outside. Remove from pan and set aside.
-Pour 2 tablespoons more of the oil into the pan, add the garlic and lemongrass, stir fry for 30 seconds. Add the sauce and when it starts to bubble, add the noodles. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, then add the tofu, bean sprouts, spring onions, chillies, and peanuts. Stir for 30 more seconds.
-Transfer to two serving plates and garnish with coriander and lime wedges.