Sunday, April 12, 2015

Tomato Avocado Cucumber Salad and A Shout Out to Beverly Cleary

I once read that more than the other seasons, spring is a state of mind. As you know, it can strike in the dead of winter or go AWOL all April and May. It is the season of hope as evenings lengthen and grey turns to green. Enjoy spring as it awakens all senses.
Tomato-Cucumber-Avocado Salad
Cook's notes: I noticed the price of avocados were quite reasonable this week. This is quick and tasty side for lunch or dinner. The photo below shows an easy way to cut an avocado in neat chunks. Recipe comes from greenvalleykitchens.com  and serves 2 but can easily be increased. 
  
Cooking tips:

  • Soak the red onion slice in a little water, for a couple of minutes, before mincing. This will remove some of the raw onion taste.
  • Avocado does not refrigerate well. So if you are not eating it right away, wait to add the avocado until just before serving.
  • It you want to make a vegan version of this tomato, cucumber, avocado salad then substitute kalamata olives for the feta cheese.

Ingredients:
  • 1 ½ cups of chopped tomatoes - I used cherry tomatoes two different colors for more interest
  • 1 cucumber - peeled and seeded then diced
  • 1 avocado - diced
  • 4 oz feta cheese - cubed or freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup minced red onion
  • 1 handful parsley - minced - about 2 TB. 
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 2 TB. olive oil
  • 1 TB. red wine vinegar
  • 8 twists of black pepper from a pepper mill
Directions:
  • Dice tomatoes in half  and pat dry on  paper towel. Add to a bowl.
  • Peel and seed one cucumber and dice. Add to bowl.
  • Remove pit, dice avocado and using a spoon scoop out the avocado from the peel. Add to bowl.
  • Cube feta and add to bowl.
  • Add minced red onion and minced parsley to bowl.
  • Whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar and black pepper - pour over salad.
  • Toss gently so the feta and avocado don't break up. Serve immediately.
  • If refrigerating - keep the avocado aside and add just before severing.
Other Dressing Options:
Lime-Cilantro  
Whisk together juice of 2 limes, 2 TB. olive oil, 1 TB. minced cilantro
Balsamic Reduction 
Mix together in a saucepan 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, 2 TB. brown sugar
Bring to a boil and reduce by half, set aside to cool.


April 12th birthday for Beverly Cleary and what a birthday this must to reach the age of 99.
Celebrate her special day by rereading one of your favorite books.
These books are two of my favorites 



Beverly Cleary (born April 12, 1916) is an American author of more than 30 books for young adults and children. One of America's most successful writers of children's literature, she has sold 91 million copies of her books worldwide. Some of her best-known characters are Henry Huggins, Ribsy, Beatrice,Beatrice ("Beezus") Quimby, her sister Ramona Quimby and Ralph S. Mouse. She won the 1981 National Book Award for "Ramona and Her Mother" and the 1984 Newberry for "Dear Mr. Henshaw".

For her lifetime contributions to American literature Cleary has received the National Medal of Arts, recognition as a "Living Legend" by the Library of Congress and the Laura Inglass Wilder Medal from the Children's Librarians.

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