Salad Dressing of the Week: Avocado, Lime and Cilantro

avocado lime cilantro dressing

I made this quickly in the blender this week, to go over a cold rice salad with shredded poached chicken, local corn, a few early tomatoes and chunks of avocado.  Mostly the goal was to distribute the little bit of avocado I had on hand as much as possible throughout the salad.  We loved the result, and I expect we'll be drizzling this all over salads, soups, sandwiches, and all sorts of grilled things all summer long.

Creamy Avocado Lime and Cilantro Dressing

By Catie Baumer Schwalb

makes about one cup.

1/2 avocado
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, from one large lime, or a few smaller
1/4 cup, packed, fresh cilantro (include stems too if they are young and fresh)
1/2-3/4 cup olive oil
salt, to taste

In a blender, combine avocado, lime juice and cilantro. Blend until smooth. Through the hole in the blender lid, slowly pour in the olive oil, with the blender on low. Start with a half cup, and taste for balance.  If it seems too tart, add a little more gradually, tasting as you go. Season with salt, to taste.

Serve immediately, or chill briefly.

Garlic Scape and Herb Pancake


Move over scallions.  I may have to cheat on you.

My love affair with dim sum scallion pancakes is no secret.  There are few times I can think of when they don't appeal to me.  (or make me start to go all Pavlovian as I even type the words.)  Though green and doing very well, the scallions planted in my garden are still about the size of glorified dental floss and won't be serving up any exotic savories for a few weeks.

However, we do have garlic scapes!  And herbs!  Lots of both!

Scallions?  Who needs scallions?

While not exactly a necessity, (more of an insatiable craving), mother invention shone down and offered up this bright, summery, mildly garlicky, herby, southeast Asian-inspired perfection on a greasy paper towel.  There is a tremendous (and tremendously cheap) hole-in-the-wall dumpling shop in NYC's Chinatown, to which I make frequent pilgrimages.  Alongside their dumplings, they have a monstrous cast iron pan in which they make a very similar sesame pancake.  You can get a pizza-slice-sized wedge "stuffed with veggies" for $1.25, which is split laterally and crammed with shredded carrot and chopped cilantro leaves and stems.  There was definitely some inspiration from there in this as well.

Give these a try, using all that summer is offering up right now.  Shredded zucchini, carrot or beet, torn squash blossoms, thyme, sage, thinly sliced chard could all be welcome additions.  Fried dough + farm fresh herbs and produce = What could possibly be bad?


Market Watch: Microgreens

Micro Mesclun from Windfall Farms, Union Square Greenmarket, NYC.

Spring is here, and the farmers' market offerings are slowly transitioning from squash, root vegetables, and cold storage foods to fresh spring produce in the weeks ahead.  One of the first fresh spring finds to look for are microgreens.

Microgreens are similar to hippy, 70's sprouts, in that they are the first small growth from a seed.  However very different from sprouts, in that they are planted in soil (sprouts are cultivated in water or damp cloth or paper), and grown in sunlight like you are starting the full sized plant or green.  However, sometime between 8-14 days the microgreen is hand snipped at it's base, leaving the root behind (again, different from sprouts), leaving you with a teeny tiny, crunchy green, that is a micro flavor bomb.

Arugula, lettuces, beets, radish, and kale are very commonly used for microgreens, but cilantro, basil and wasabi are available for a really exciting addition.  They are used frequently as a fancy-schmancy garnish in restaurants, offering great color and texture, in addition to a burst of flavor on the top of a dish.  But use them at home for a delicate little salad, to top off a piece of grilled seafood, or anywhere you want to add a small bit of freshness without overpowering a recipe with large greens leaves.  They are thin and delicate, so are perfectly tender just eaten raw.

Keep an eye out for them at the market, or grow your own in some seed flats in your window until the weather gets a little warmer, and then set aside a micro-patch of garden for the rest of the season.  Ready in just over a week, I've planned ahead for dinner parties, planting seeds a week or so prior, and snipping fancy-schmancy garnishes of my own hours before my guests arrive.  Impressive?  Yes.  Easy?  Yes.  Flavorful, healthy, and fun on plate?  Yes, yes and more yes.

Gruyere and leek tartlette with homegrown arugula microgreens.

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Catie Baumer Schwalb is a chef, food writer and photographer, who splits her life between the city and the country. Not too long ago Catie was a New York City based actress and playwright for more than a decade. She has her Master of Fine Arts from the National Theater Conservatory, and her Grand Diplôme in classic culinary arts from the French Culinary Institute in New York City. ... Read More

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