healthy & light: zucchini “pappardelle” with avocado “cream”

healthy & light: zucchini "pappardelle" with avocado "cream"

healthy & light: zucchini “pappardelle” with avocado “cream”

In preparation for my kitchen remodel next month, I was speaking with one of the designers at the kitchen showroom …I wanted to show her the remodel of my bar area from last summer so I pulled up my blog post titled “Construction Dinner.” In addition to photos of my bar remodel, the post also contains a recipe for Orecchiette with Warm Avocado Cream. While interested in the bar, she was also intrigued by the avocado cream. She loved avocado but was trying to keep carbs to a minimum. So I suggested to try it with zucchini instead of pasta. If I was suggesting she try my recipe, I thought that I had better test it myself first!

Stephanie – definitely try it with the zucchini!

zucchini “pappardelle” with avocado “cream” recipe

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A Farmers Market Dinner Featuring Salmon & Truffle Cream

farmers market dinner

Pan-Roasted King Salmon with White Truffle Cream
Farmers Market Wild Arugula, Heirloom Baby Cherry Tomatoes, Avocado
Pine Nuts, French Lentils, Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

Inspired by a trip to the Farmers Market, fresh king salmon was pan-roasted and served over organic French lentils seasoned with just a kiss of my Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette along with wild arugula, irresistible baby cherry tomatoes, lightly toasted pine nuts, and avocado.

The sauce is made with La Tartufata blended with creme fraiche which added a velvety nuance to the dish. A preserved truffle product from Gourmet Attitude, La Tartufata is an earthy intense white truffle cream. This dinner was a delightful marriage of earth, garden, and sea. It’s the third in a series of three meals, each featuring one of the preserved truffle goodies in the “Trio Boutique.” We especially liked dipping the little heirloom tomatoes in the truffle cream sauce…

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Construction Dinner

Orecchiette, Avocado Pasta Sauce
Orecchiette with Warm Avocado Cream

The dilemma was how to add more kitchen counter space for prepping, cooking, and cleaning while keeping the integrity of the 1951 style, leaving the character of the original design unchanged without knocking out any walls. My friend Kirk had a brilliant idea to convert the adjacent room, which had been used as a bar, into an extension of the kitchen.

My home is a unique style for Southern California, the charming Cape Cod is an East Coast design – a style adapted to the stormy New England weather. Common features include: a steep sloping roof, chimney with fireplace, dormers, multi-pane double hung windows, shutters, constructed of wood and covered in wide clapboard, having a symmetrical appearance with the door in center, center-hall floor plan, and hardwood floors.

This remodeled room may have originally been designed for use as a breakfast nook sixty years ago. Now, it is an extension of the cooking area, with a stainless steel sink and 9 extra feet of counter space!

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Summer’s Chilled Soup ☆ STAR ☆

chilled summer soup for entertaining

Chilled Marcona Almond & Poblano Chile Soup with Sherry
Crab Salad Pillar with Avocado
Diced Watermelon, Feta and Mint
Borage Blossom Garnish

The 5 Star Makeover Cooking Group hosted by Natasha the 5 Star Foodie & Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks! is an outstanding monthly event for sharing ideas and creating gourmet makeovers of selected classic dishes or flavor combinations. June’s summery theme is CHILLED SOUPS.

The chilled almond & chile soup has been a favorite here for over a decade – a STAR of a cold soup that’s hot, smoky, and nutty. If fact, I entered it in a contest at the Los Angeles County Fair years ago, and it won second place. I’ve updated the soup recipe, now using sweet Spanish Marcona almonds and dry Spanish sherry. The basic soup can be simply garnished with bay shrimp or a drizzle of Mexican crema and a few cilantro leaves. Or for entertaining, go all out and build the crab pillar, your guests will be delighted.

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Fiddlehead & Flower Month-of-May Salad

fiddlehead fern salad, edible flower salad
fiddlehead fern frond & edible flower
tatsoi & arugula salad
avocado, yukon gold potato, dijon dressing

April showers brought May flowers. And with the upcoming opening of our “ristorante alfresco virtuale” Ciao Fiore! I’ve got edible flowers on my mind. Marigold and Johnny Jump-Up, Nasturtium, Pansy, and Borage too. I spotted the fiddlehead fern fronds at Whole Foods Market, in season right now just shipped down from Portland, Oregon. Flowers and ferns seemed like a pretty pairing, and thus this delightful Month-of-May salad was born.

Edible Flowers in the Salad:

  • marigold – bright orange petals, some with red tips
  • johnny jump up – small purple petals
  • nasturtium – large orange flower
  • pansy – large dark violet-purple flower
  • borage – tiny blue petals

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Spring Bliss: Sugar Snap Pea, Avocado, Tomato, Mint

spring bliss soup, sugar snap pea soup, chilled pea and mint soup

Chilled Sugar Snap Pea & Mint Soup
Mashed Avocado with Lime, Tomato Concassé with Shallot
Fresh Mint, Chili Oil & Creme Fraiche Garnish

A vendor at the Farmers’ Market was handing out samples of fresh-from-the-vine sugar snap peas. Telling people just to eat them as is, no cooking necessary. They were sweet & exploding with flavor, crunchy, the color of spring. Few of us could pass up buying a basket or two. Once home, I turned to my favorite vegetable cookbook Charlie Trotter’s Vegetables for inspiration: Sugar Snap Pea Soup. A simple and refreshing chilled soup. With avocado for richness, tomato for sweet acidity, mint for brightness. Spring. Bliss.

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All GREEN Grilled Zucchini Tacos

Second in a Series of Superiores Tacos Vegetarianos

green tacos

All GREEN Grilled Zucchini Tacos
Prickly Pear Cactus Tortillas
Butter Lettuce, Avocado, Shredded Green Cabbage, Cilantro, Serrano Chile
Lime Garlic Cilantro Sauce

The inspiration for these tacos came during a trip to the farmers’ market. One booth was featuring something I had never seen before, namely Prickly Pear Cactus Tortillas. Whether it be at the farmers’ market or ethnic local grocery stores, if I see something I haven’t tried before, it usually ends up in my cart. And many of those unique or interesting ingredients find a home here on Taste With The Eyes.

These green tortillas are made with organic nopal mixed with stone ground whole white corn kernels, water, lime, and vegetable plant extract. Two tortillas supply 100 calories, 3 g fiber and no cholesterol. I can’t say that they taste like nopalitos. If I close my eyes I’m not sure I could pinpoint the difference from other good corn tortillas, but I sure do love the color.

So now that I have a package of tortillas de nopal in my shopping bag, what shall I make with them?
The answer was all around me.

 farmers’ market + green tortillas = all GREEN tacos

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What are you wearing today?

Heart Healthy Spinach Salad
Tahitian Lime  Vanilla Vinaigrette
Honey Mandarin, Avocado, Roasted Almond

What are you wearing on Feb. 4?
We, the Ladies of Alpha Phi, suggest something red!
Feb. 4 is National Wear Red Day

Please join us along with the Alpha Phi Foundation, the American Heart Association, and other fine organizations in supporting women’s heart health.

Beginning on National Wear Red Day—Friday, February 4, 2011—millions will help spread the critical message that “Heart Disease Doesn’t Care What You Wear—It’s the #1 Killer of Women.” The Red Dress, the national symbol for women and heart disease awareness, was created by The Heart Truth in 2002 to deliver an urgent wakeup call to American women. Everyone can participate in the national movement by wearing their favorite red dress, shirt, tie, Red Dress Pin, or another red accessory.

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Heart Healthy Chilled Avocado Tarragon Bisque


Heart Healthy Chilled Avocado Tarragon Bisque

A California Avocado Commission avocado bisque recipe was the inspiration for my heart healthy version made with non-fat milk and non-fat yogurt. Avocados contribute good fats to one’s diet and they’re low in saturated fat and cholesterol-free. Non-fat dairy ingredients in my recipe complement the rich avocado, resulting in a perfect balance that is good for the heart. The lovely fragrant tarragon, creamy colorful avocado, and tangy yogurt marry well together.  The method is so simple you can make it for lunch today, yet it is also elegant enough to serve at your next summer dinner party.

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White Asparagus, Shaved Avocado, Tarragon Mayonnaise

Peruvian White Asparagus
Shaved Californian Avocado
Tarragon Mayonnaise
I was shopping at Whole Foods Market today for meat to make a very Autumn-Style dish for a big party this weekend: Stout Braised Short Ribs, a two-day process which we will be starting tomorrow morning.
Walking into the produce section, I noticed this big display of asparagus, the quintessential Spring vegetable, right? Turns out this asparagus was from Peru. Where Spring has sprung! In solidarity with my Southern Hemisphere Cooking Compadres, I picked up some asparagus to serve along side a Whole Foods pre-cooked smoked chicken tonight. Their smoked chicken is really good.
White Asparagus

Trim off the end of the asparagus, then shave the entire stalk with a vegetable peeler.

Place shaved asparagus stalks in salted simmering water with a bay leaf. Cook until tender, taste for doneness. This was about 8 minutes. When tender, place asparagus in an ice bath to stop the cooking, then dry on paper towels.

Mix mayonnaise with finely chopped fresh tarragon, salt and pepper, and a splash of tarragon vinegar. Tonight’s dinner had to be effortless, considering the upcoming party and all the cooking involved. But…
Mayonnaise aficionados might appreciate an “almost effortless” homemade version, compliments of Julia Child, that I paired with fresh swordfish here.

“Mayonnaise is one of the finest and most important sauces in classic cuisine. The shame is that few of us ever taste the kind of fresh handmade mayonnaise that deserves such culinary status – and even dedicated home cooks don’t realize that making their own is a simple process that takes only minutes and, if you use a food processor, almost no effort at all.” Julia Child

Shave a slightly under-ripe avocado into strips with the vegetable peeler. Season asparagus with salt and pepper, ladle tarragon mayonnaise over the center, top with shaved avocado ribbons. Add a tarragon sprig for garnish. This side dish was really simple and quite lovely.
Happy Spring to My Blogger Friends in the Southern Hemisphere!


For more information on Peruvian White Asparagus, please visit Gourmet Trading Company here.