Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Avocado-Jalapeño Toasts & Arugula Salad with Lemon-Honey Vinaigrette


 Like bees to honey, we eagerly basked for an entire week in a sunshine so perfectly warm and wonderful (...and sadly missing in our Pacific Northwest skies) that I've seared its prescriptive qualities to memory in the hopes of conjuring it at will (even if in memory only) as we slog through the next few months... buoyantly celebrating even the tiniest glimmers of Spring.

Markets are beginning to brim with added fruits and produce, trees and shrubs are sprouting buds, birds are happily chirping their morning songs, and days are lighter and brighter (even if tinged with a little drizzle). These welcomed changes to the season, along with that brilliant sunshine that warms my memory, and a host of nibbles enjoyed while away, will surely sustain us as we move into the land and time of greater warmth, brighter skies, and outdoor meals!!


This little toast and salad fixing is a play on a mini starter we had at a great little spot called The Herb Box. I happen to love fresh, ripe avocado and can easily consume an entire fruit on my own, having mastered the art of cubing and carving it from its skin while never removing it from said home. Then, with a gentle squeeze, I can easily open up the carved fruit to better welcome a generous spoonful or two of my favorite salsa. Add a side of five or six flax-seed tortilla chips to aid with scooping and... voilá... it's lunch in an avocado-skin cup... likely eaten while hovering (gracefully) over the kitchen sink.

So... a little avocado toast that dresses up like a beautiful salad is pretty much a match made in heaven for me.


Similar to the starter that inspired this salad fixing, a lemon-infused and pepper-spiced (jalapeño in this case) schmear of avocado is slathered onto whole-grain toast, then topped with delicate rings of sautéed shallot and a generous mound of nutty arugula leaves dressed with a lemon-honey vinaigrette. Keep them small and you have an appetizer... plate it up big and you have a meal.

All the flavors work so well together... resulting in a wonderfully fresh, healthy, satisfying bite. It's like sunshine on a toast!


Avocado-Jalapeño Toasts & Arugula Salad with Lemon-Honey Vinaigrette
makes six to eight mini toasts or two hearty salads

Depending on how much avocado schmear you slather, you might have leftover schemer... always a good thing. The same holds true with the dressing.

1 large shallot, thinly sliced and pieced into rings
3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large jalapeño, seeded, cored and minced
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
3 ripe avocados, divided
3 to 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
4 to 5 radishes, thinly sliced
whole grain bread
5 ounce container baby arugula

Heat a generous tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add sliced shallot to pan and sauté until lightly golden, about 5 minutes.

Place minced jalapeño and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt in a mortar and pestle. Mash mixture until completely broken down into a light pureé. Set aside.

Place meat of two avocados in a small bowl and mash. Add jalapeño, 1 teaspoon lemon juice and 1/8 teaspoon salt, to taste.

For vinaigrette, mix 1 tablespoon honey, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil and a pinch of salt, to taste. Dice remaining avocado. Place arugula in a large bowl, add radish and lightly dress with vinaigrette. Add diced avocado and lightly toss to coat.

Toast bread. Schmear toasts with a bit of avocado mixture, some rings of shallot, and top with dressed greens.



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