Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tomato, Avocado and Cucumber Salad

Local Bounty

The holiday left me a little behind on posting this week.  Or maybe I'm just using holiday excuses because I totally enjoyed relaxing at home,  hanging out in the garden and catching up on reading. The hounds love napping, so we all relaxed together.

I also thumbed through many cookbooks and drooled over so many salad recipes.   I had a few ingredients in mind for this post, and was surprised when I saw Heidi Swanson's post at 101 Cookbooks using avocados in this recipe because  I'd been thinking of using avocados.   I consider them a weekly staple around here, because they're amazing in so many ways.  

Avocados go well with just about anything--soups, sandwiches, burritos, salads and even desserts. I was imagining them with tomatoes and cucumber since we have an abundance these.

I got a tip on storing unripe avocados in the refrigerator, wrapped in tin foil.  Then I found this article that mentions wrapping unripe avocados in plastic wrap and placing them in the refrigerator.  This storage tip is worth a try because with avocados, you can't always find exactly what you're looking for.  Sometimes I find bags of unripe avocados at a lower price, but I never purchased them because I figured they'd all ripen at once, so this storage tip is great news for budge savvy grocery shoppers.

It's  best to eat avocados when you cut them.  I toss also them with lemon juice for most things, so the flesh doesn't darken.

Avocados and tomatoes make a great pairing, and locally-grown tomatoes are everywhere right now.  Look for your favorites at the market or gather your own from the garden.  

Consider roasting or dehydrating any surplus because tomatoes only keep for a few days, then they start getting soft.  

My plan is to slow roast these tomatoes, then puree them into tomato paste and freeze for later.

Cucumbers are another bumper crop this year, so use at least one for this salad.  You can use regular cucumbers or try the slim Japanese cucumbers.

At Mair Farm Taki these were on sale this past weekend for $3.50 a pound.

For the best bargain, I like cucumbers from our garden.  My Cooking Assistant agrees.

The cucumbers and tomatoes also came from our garden.  Well, mostly.  The black tomatoes (indigo rose)  came from Grouse Mountain Farm.  These tomatoes are high in lycopene, a potent antioxidant, found to be most beneficial for cancer.

Tomato, Avocado, and Cucumber Salad
(Serves 4 to 6)

2 cups sliced tomatoes 
1 medium cucumber, peeled and diced
1 small red onion, minced (1/4 cup)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Smoked sea salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 large avocado, diced
2 to 4 cups torn romaine  or half romaine and half arugula
Toasted pumpkin seeds    

1. Combine tomatoes, cucumber, and onion in a medium-size mixing bowl.  

2. Blend lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, agave nectar and mustard.  Whisk until well bended.  Add sea salt and pepper to taste.  Add avocado and stir until well coated.   Combine avocado mixture and tomatoes and cucumbers.   Gently mix well.

3. Serve on top of salad greens.  Garnish with pumpkin seeds.

I love tofu so I couldn't resist adding this easy sauteed tofu recipe.  The important part is waiting until one side is brown before turning to the remaining side.  Drain tofu on an absorbent towel, then use the cubes as salad toppers.  For more flavor you can toss the cubes in salad dressing, before topping the salad.

From side dish to vegan main dish

8 ounces firm tofu

Canola oil

Cut tofu into cubes.   Fry in a small amount of oil until browned.  Turn and brown the other side.  Cool.

Add tofu cubes to the salad. 

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