Bringing The Heat

Grilled_Guac

We’re always looking for new ways to play with our avocado, and here’s a take  that we haven’t seen yet, even in our extensive ES guac-a-wanderings.

At New York’s excellent Mexicue, they make a guacamole with grilled serrano peppers, bringing a slow, deep heat that plays perfectly off of a fresh avo. Here’s the not-at-all-complicated recipe.

Grilled Serrano Guacamole 

1 Serrano pepper, halved and seeded (use 2 for heavier heat)
4 ripe avocados, peeled and seeded
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice (plus more to taste)
1 teaspoon kosher salt (plus more to taste)
½ teaspoon chipotle powder
¼ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon cumin
½ cup finely chopped red onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro

1.     Place Serrano pepper over high heat either on a grill or gas stovetop. Flip with tongs until both sides are slightly charred and it is soft. Cool and roughly chop.

2.     In a large bowl add the pepper and remaining ingredients and use a potato masher to mash all ingredients together.

3.     Taste for additional salt and lime juice.

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Okay! These are my new go-to snack/app when I have people over for lunch/dinner and want to throw something impressive (but actually very easy) together. They’re pretty, colorful, and obviously most importantly, taste awesome. You can add as much or as little curry and cayenne as you’d like, depending on how spicy you like it.

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I am alllll about embracing the flavors of fall this year (and every year). If I can roast it, I’m gonna roast it. If I can caramelize it, I’m gonna caramelize it. If I am able to add pumpkin seeds to it, I’m prooobably gonna add pumpkin seeds to it! You get what I’m saying. Also, not in fall but in general life, if I can put avocado on something, you bet your butt I will.

All that being said and understood, this recipe should come as no surprise. Pair sweet, sweet roasted fall vegetables with cool, creamy avocado and crisp, clean lettuce. Top with a tangy, bright dressing and a bit of salty blue cheese, and you’re in autumn salad heaven.

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There is nothing not to love about this salad. Slash slaw. Slash pilaf. Okay, I’m not really sure what exactly to call it. It’s easy to throw together on a busy night. It’s packed with nutritious vegetables, protein, and fiber. It can be your full meal or a side. If you want some meat/additional protein, you could easily top with shrimp or chicken. Make it your own!

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At this point I feel like I’m getting a reputation among my friends… a reputation for being the person who always brings the salad to the dinner party or cookout. Here’s the thing, though: salads are not boring if you do ’em right. I like to load mine with all sorts of vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, and nice cheese. I’m also a fan of making my own dressing, which, on top of being better for you, adds so much more flavor and depth than your usual store-bought variety. (But if you are using a store-bought, my favorite brand is Briannas, which I’ve mentioned before in a similar recipe.)

I threw together one of my huge salads when I hosted our Bachelorette League at my place last week. Since I was making a big amount and I was a little crunched for time after work, I had my man help me out. And by “my man” I don’t mean my boyfriend Rob. I mean my man Joe. My man TRADER JOE. I got everything I needed from him for this dinner (including a bunch of cheap yet delicious wine, not pictured). Love u forever, TJs.

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I originally experienced this heavenly combo during one of my weekly girls’ night dinner parties. I knew it was going to be a winner when I saw the dressing employed: Rich Poppy Seed Dressing from Brianna’s. Normally I don’t love bottled salad dressings, but this Brianna’s is different. I’ve been a big fan of their poppy seed dressing since I discovered it years ago. It’s an amazing complement to every sort of fruit (including peaches, as indicated on the bottle—and also avocado!)

The sweetness of the strawberries and the dressing is an obvious pairing with the tangy, creamy goat cheese and balsamic vinegar. The surprise here is the quinoa—usually I serve cooled quinoa in salads, but this one keeps it warm. This allows the goat cheese to melt into the quinoa and the rest of the salad ingredients, and slightly wilt the spinach. It all melts and mixes together just enough, not too much. The key? Slightly warm quinoa, not super hot right off the stove!

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This particular creation was actually dreamed up thanks to a bunch of leftovers I had the other night. I had some friends over to watch The Bachelor (don’t judge—criticizing sobbing drunk girls on TV is amazing) and I prepped homemade burrito bowls for our dinner. This is the salad that came out of all the remaining components. There is literally NOTHING bad for you here. 100% health. Tons of protein, tons of vegetables, and some good fats from coconut oil. You’re welcome.

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