Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Green Machine: Asian-Zing Zucchini and Avocado Salad

The last days of summer are upon us. The temperature is still blistering during the day, especially in the sun, but if you venture out in the wee hours you can smell that autumn is on her way. The dew is sweet, the air is crisping up, and the breeze has a little coolness to her. I always welcome autumn, but saying goodbye to summer is always sad, especially from a foodie's point-of-view. Today I am going to celebrate all that beautiful green by marrying the ever so delicious avocado with zucchini in a fabulous summer salad.

I am still at the point where I don't want to fire up the stove or oven or spend hours slow-cooking my meal. No, I want to eat raw, vitamin-rich, happy food while I still can (speaking of can...I need to see if I can do some canning this year), which means that heat doesn't have to touch my lunch dishes just yet. This afternoon I whipped up something off-the-cuff, yet still inspired by some musings that a friend was ranting about the other day: Zucchini-noodles. I saw a nice recipe on the Love and Lemons blog on her zucchini noodles with an avocado-miso dressing. Of course, I changed it up a bit depending on what I had at home, or what I was feeling like I needed in my diet--the body has an amazing way of telling us if we're willing to listen; I love that!

I wanted to eat all the colors of the summer, especially the greens. All in all I had mostly green and purple with some yellow from the lemon. Anytime I see purple and green together in a bowl, I just get all giddy and excited because I know something great is about to be consumed. The Japanese Bento tradition for lunch has always inspired me because the meal is based on pillar colors and textures to balance the diet, meeting all of the body's nutritional needs. I'll probably get more into this when I have to make take-away lunches...something to look forward to!

Moving on to the evolution of this dish... I couldn't find the julienne today so I couldn't make beautiful noodles, but grating them on a cheese grater on the fattest hole worked just fine for my anxious taste buds. I had a gigantic zucchini from the farmer's market, so I cut it in half and grated it lengthwise to get long, continuous strands. Then I combined some additional flavors I had kickin' around in the kitchen, and made a delicious asian-style dressing to toss everything in. Want to know more? Of course you do :)

Asian-Zing Zucchini and Avocado Salad
Wasabi peas
Red cabbage
Fresh ginger
Sesame oil
Olive oil
Chili powder

First, you need to prepare all of the ingredients in order to assemble them. The zucchini should be washed and grated as per the aforementioned directions. Cut the avocado in half and remove the pit--the easiest way to do this is to get a sharp knife and tap it into the pit, then you have some leverage to pull it out. Score the avocado while it is still in its skin--this makes for easy removal, just turn the skin inside-out--or just scoop it out with a spoon. Measure out some wasabi peas in the palm of your hand and reserve. Wash the red cabbage and remove the not-so-delightful outer leaves, then thinly slice a few shreds off of the top. Final prep is preparing the ginger: take off a little thumb of ginger, peel the outer skin off and mince. Remember! You can keep the skin of the ginger and steep it with your green tea later in the is wonderful for settling the stomach, it tastes great, and you lessen your food waste! Yay!
Next, you can prepare your salad dressing. I took the avocado that I already had in cute little cubes, thanks to my scoring technique, and then I added about 2 tsp each of the sesame and olive oils. Slice off a smallish piece of the lemon and squeeze the juice out--you can add zest too if you want...even more colors! Then season with salt and chili powder to taste. Pulverize these ingredients in a mixer, immersion blender, or with a fork, like my lazy bum did. Next time I make this, I would also put in black and white sesame seeds.

Finally, the assembly: Take your zucchini noodles and put them in the bowl first, then add the fresh ginger, wasabi peas, and sliced red cabbage. Toss together well. Then you add that glorious green dressing on top and toss yet again, and you're good to go!

The wasabi peas and the ginger give this salad a nice little kick, but it isn't overpowering for those of you who have picante-aversion. The avocado balances the flavors nicely as its amazing velvety texture usually does. The red cabbage brings the colors to life and also has a great flavor and crunch. All in all, I was pretty happy with how it turned out. I sat down with some pita chips, a fork, and a glass of water, and I was totally satisfied by the end of my meal! I hope you enjoy it too.

Eat well!

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