Strawberry Avocado Salad with Fennel and Mint

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If you’ve been craving bright, fresh, seasonal ingredients that taste like Spring, I have the perfect salad for you.  Sweet strawberries, creamy avocado and crisp shaved fennel are layered on delicate bibb lettuce leaves and dressed with a lime-ginger-mint vinaigrette.  Finished with a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of sea salt, this salad makes a light, satisfying lunch or delightful first course for a Spring inspired menu.

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Strawberry Avocado Salad with Fennel and Mint

serves four

  • 1/3 cup grapeseed or canola oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey, plus more for drizzle (replace honey with 2 teaspoons agave if making vegan)
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves
  • 1 head Bibb lettuce, leaves torn into large pieces
  • 1 small fennel bulb, fronds removed and shaved thin with a knife or on a mandolin
  • 2 avocados, halved and sliced thin
  • 8 ounces fresh strawberries, sliced
  1. Whisk oil, lime juice, honey, ginger, shallot and mint together in a bowl.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Layer fennel, strawberries and avocado on lettuce leaves on four plates and dress with vinaigrette.  Drizzle each salad with honey and sprinkle with a bit of sea salt.  Garnish with fresh mint.

DSC_0405recipe and photos via the aesthete and the dilettante

My Thai: Summer Rolls & Cashew Coconut Sundaes with Caramelized Pineapple

Shrimp Summer Rolls

I spent a fair amount of time thinking about food during my juice cleanse, including what I wanted to make when it was finally over.  A Thai inspired meal was at the top of my list as crunchy, bright, full-flavored ingredients were what I craved most while abstaining from “real” food.  (To be honest I was also craving a burger like mad, but didn’t want to ruin my good behavior in one fell swoop.)

Summer rolls are one of those snacks I always pick up at the market (and eat in the car on the way home) but never take the time to make from scratch.  They are wonderfully versatile – just fill with what you love or have on hand.  I used shrimp, red bell pepper, scallions, cucumber, carrots, and thinly sliced jalapenos.  Avocado, bibb lettuce and lightly blanched asparagus would be great additions as well.  Just don’t leave out the mint and cilantro – they are the ingredients that will elevate your rolls above the ones from your corner grocer.

Thai Summer Rolls with Ginger Peanut Dipping Sauce

makes 16

  • 1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp, tails removed
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 4 inch matchsticks.  If you’ve never cut veggies into matchsticks, watch this quick tutorial on how to julienne here (a julienne cut is a smidge thinner than a matchstick cut but it really doesn’t matter).
  • 1 large or 2 small cucumbers, peeled and cut into 4 inch matchsticks
  • 2 red bell peppers, cut into 4 inch matchsticks
  • 4 scallions (white and light green parts only), quartered lengthwise
  • 2 jalapenos, seeds and white membranes removed, cut into very thin slices
  • 1 bunch mint, leaves removed from stems
  • half bunch cilantro, leaves removed from stems
  • 16 rice-paper wrappers (available in the Asian food section of  most stores)
  • Ginger Peanut Dipping Sauce (recipe below)
  1. Add shrimp to a pot of boiling water and cook until opaque, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.
  2. Drain shrimp in colander and run under cold water to stop cooking and to cool completely.  Dry with a paper towel, then carefully slice each in half lengthwise with a paring knife (you can do this on the cutting board if you prefer, but I find they wiggle around too much).
  3. Fill a large bowl with hot tap water and spread a clean damp dish towel out next to the bowl.
  4. Soak one rice-paper wrapper in the hot water until soft and pliable (about 15-20 seconds).
  5. Lay wrapper flat on the damp kitchen towel and place a few mint and cilantro leaves in a row across the middle of the wrapper, leaving an inch or so on each side.
  6. Lay three shrimp halves in a row on top of the cilantro and mint leaves.
  7. Lay three thin slices jalapenos in a row over shrimp, and add 1/16th of the the other vegetable matchsticks on top of jalapenos.
  8. Fold top half of wrapper over filling, then fold in the two sides. Fold bottom part of wrapper up snugly but gently to close, then pat to seal. Place pretty side up on a damp paper towel-lined platter and cover with another damp paper towel.
  9. Repeat steps 4-8 until all sixteen are complete, leaving room between each on platter so they do not stick.
  10. Make dipping sauce.

Ginger Peanut Dipping Sauce

  • 1/2 cup creamy natural peanut butter, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons chile garlic paste
  • 4-6 tablespoons water
  1. Whisk together all ingredients except water in a bowl.  Whisk in 4 tablespoons water one at a time and blend until smooth, adding more water until desired thinness/consistency is reached.

I was also really craving something creamy and sweet, so I made toasted coconut cashew sundaes with caramelized pineapple.  They were INSANELY good, and not just because I was dairy and sugar deprived.  See recipe below.

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Cashew Coconut Sundaes with Caramelized Pineapple

Serves 4

  • 1 ripe golden pineapple, peeled and cored (if the bottom smells like fragrant pineapple and you can easily pluck a leaf from the top, it is ripe)
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup cashews, chopped
  • 1 cup coconut flakes (sweetened or unsweetened)
  • vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  1. Spread chopped cashews and coconut in a sheet pan and bake for 6 minutes or until lightly toasted, stirring a few times while baking, being careful not to burn.
  2. Remove cashews and coconut from oven and carefully move oven rack to top position.
  3. Turn oven to broil.
  4. Cut pineapple into 8 lengthwise spears, pat dry and place on a foil lined baking sheet.
  5. Pack each spear with 2 tablespoons brown sugar.
  6. Broil for 2-4 minutes, turning pineapple over and rotating tray at least once.  Remove when most of the sugar has melted but before it burns.  This happens quickly!
  7. Place 1 warm pineapple spear in each bowl (cut in half if necessary), reserving extra pineapple for another use.  Scoop ice cream onto pineapple and sprinkle each with warm coconut cashew mixture, reserving extra for your morning yogurt or oatmeal.

P.S.  I’m thinking a splash of rum on each sundae would be pretty fantastic.  I wish it would have occurred to me then!

recipes and photos via the aesthete and the dilettante