TENDING the TABLE

A Simple Avocado Salad

Hello! The weekend is finally here and I’m excited to share this simple but satisfying avocado salad with you along with some tips on how to create a more sustainable kitchen. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the little things I do to make my kitchen more sustainable and I wanted to share a few tips and resources with you. Continue reading for all the details…

This may seem like a lot to incorporate all at once so feel free to start small. Take what seems useful and leave the rest. I’ve broken things down into three categories (shopping, cooking and storage) because I truly believe that sustainable eating begins at the market or grocery store (you can shape market demand with your choices) and continues long after you’ve finished your meal. I hope you find some of this useful and feel free to comment with any questions or tips you’d like to add.

SHOPPING

  1. Always bring your own reusable grocery bags with you to the store or market. I like to have a few stashed in the car and by the front door at all times.
  2. Bring cloth bags for bulk ingredients like beans, rice, nuts etc. I like these ones because they come with the tare weight written on the tag.
  3. Bring mesh bags for produce.
  4. Bring glass jars for peanut butter, oil, honey etc. Don’t forget to write the tare weight on your jars.
  5. Consider the packaging when selecting products. Avoid bringing home containers that will need to be recycled or disposed of. Buy bulk whenever possible (I like to buy bulk dried beans and cook them in a pressure cooker  instead of relying on canned beans when I’m in a hurry).
  6. Buy organic whenever possible.
  7. Consider the impact of your choices, environmentally, socially, and ethically (The irony of posting an avocado salad in conjunction with a sustainability guide isn’t lost on me. I recently learned that demand for avocados is leading to deforestation and a host of other problems in Mexico. Which is worse: to be well informed and to still make choices that have a negative impact or to not know what kind of impact you are having?)

COOKING

  1. Plan your meals to prioritize the most perishable items and to use up leftovers.
  2. Save odds and ends (carrots, onions, celery, fennel etc.) for stock (just place them in a container in the freezer until ready to use) and find creative ways to use other food waste (I turn the almond pulp from my almond milk into almond meal for baking and use the liquid from cooking beans in puddings and mousses).
  3. Compost any other food scraps.
  4. Use unbleached compostable parchment paper when baking.
  5. Use cloth towels instead of paper towels. I used to buy cheap, white kitchen towels but got tired of throwing them away because they were stained and gross so decided to invest in a handful of good quality dark colored towels that I can keep forever.
  6. Use unbleached, biodegradable/compostable sponges and environmentally friendly dish soap. 
  7. Conserve water when washing your dishes. Lather up, scrub your dishes then rinse them all at once like  my husband does (I’m still working on this one).

STORAGE

  1. Store bulk ingredients in jars, liquids in bottles and leftovers in glass containers.
  2. Eliminate plastic from your kitchen. Instead of plastic wrap, use Bee’s Wrap to cover bowls or wrap odds and ends.

This salad was inspired by one we had at Gjelina while in L.A. Theirs was dressed with shichimi togarashi, a Japanese spice mixture, and micro greens. I was blown away by the simple elegance and the perfect balance of flavors and textures and wanted to try to create something similar here at home. The dressing in my version is made with blood orange juice for a bright flavor and color and the paprika and chili lend a bit of spice to balance out the creamy avocado. This salad is great on its own or with some mixed greens and bread.

A Simple Avocado Salad

Serves 3-4 (as a side dish)

INGREDIENTS

3 ripe avocados

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed blood orange juice

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 1/2 teaspoons toasted white sesame seeds

1 1/2 teaspoons black sesame seeds

1 teaspoon blood orange zest

flaky sea salt and cilantro leaves to garnish

PROCEDURE

Cut the avocados in half, remove the pits, peel and quarter. Arrange on a plate.

Combine the olive oil and blood orange juice in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.

Combine the paprika, chili, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds and zest in a small bowl and mix well.

When ready to serve, drizzle the dressing over the avocado, sprinkle with some of the spice mixture and garnish with the flaky salt and cilantro.