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creativecalligraphy

Avocado "Ranch" Dressing

For the love of avocado, you have to try this!  And do yourself a big favor by adding fresh tomato and carrot to the salad that you're dressing because avocado has been shown to dramatically boost absorption of beta carotene and lycopene (check out the link above for more info!). Notes: I found the garlic bite to be quite intense when I first mixed up the dressing.  Letting it stand definitely helps to mellow that flavor, but if you intend to serve this to kids shortly after making it you might want to half the garlic, try 1/4 tsp garlic powder or omit it all together.  The chives give a really lovely subtle onion flavor.  The dill flavor takes time to develop, so if you have a chance to let the dressing sit before serving, you will be rewarded.  I dressed some garden fresh greens for dinner tonight, but you can try this on baked potato, with fresh veggies or steamed veggies or as a dip for artichoke (yum!)  If you prefer a thick dip texture, or know some kids who do, cut the almond milk back to 1/2 cup but leave the remaining ingredients the same.  You could also leave the almond milk at 1 cup and add 1/2 a block of silken tofu to firm up the dressing into a dip.  If you go this route you will want to increase the chive to 1/2 cup and dill to 2 Tbsp to boost the flavor and balance the mellow tofu. Have you guessed yet that I adore avocado and need no special occasion to play with it in the kitchen!?  Talk about a creamy and versatile fruit!  I'm charmed. [caption id="attachment_427" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Avocado "Ranch" Dressing"]Avocado "Ranch" Dressing[/caption] Avocado "Ranch" Dressing 1 cup unsweetened almond milk juice of ½ a lemon (approx ¼ cup) 1 Tbsp raw apple cider vinegar 1 ripe avocado (about 1 cup) 1 clove garlic 1 bunch fresh chive (used a handful/ about ¼ cup, adjust to suit your taste) 1 Tbsp dried dill or ¼ cup fresh dill, finely minced ½ tsp salt ½ tsp pepper Place everything in your Vitamix, blender or food processor and blend until smooth and creamy.  Adjust for seasoning and then pour into a bowl and cover.  We want to chill this dressing for an hour or longer so the flavor develops. [caption id="attachment_428" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Garden Fresh Greens with Avocado Ranch Dressing: the orange tomato came from our garden, but there were only 2 so we each got 1/2!"]Garden Fresh Greens with Avocado Ranch Dressing[/caption]

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creativecalligraphy

Chopped Garden Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing

This salad is great for a quick dinner but is equally lovely for a potluck or picnic.  It is super easy to change out the veg to things you have on hand.  The peppers can be any color, though the red and orange brighten up the plate beautifully.  Try summer squash, zucchini or celery in addition or in place of the cucumber.  I used fresh greens from our garden and mixed in some dinosaur kale.  If you have reluctant kale eaters, this dish is a winner because the bold and creamy flavors of the bean/veg mix really cover the kale and make it magically blend in with other greens.  Start with a bit of kale if you're not used to it, but definitely give it a try.  I used to wonder how people could eat kale, but now it's probably my favorite green!  Arugula, beet greens, frisee, endive, romaine, radicchio... they all work really well with this salad.  It's hard to go wrong! You'll find that the flavors in the bean/veg portion of this dish get better on the 2nd day... so if you have leftovers, you're in for a treat!  With time to plan ahead you can prep this the day before you plan to eat it so you'll have that intense garlicky flavor throughout. Also, the dressing is great on other things as well.  Because of the avocado the benefits of some healthy whole food fats... a nice option for those who might normally choose a processed creamy style dressing or ranch dressing. [caption id="attachment_419" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Chopped Garden Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing"]Chopped Garden Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing[/caption] Chopped Garden Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing (makes 4 generous servings) Dressing: 1 large ripe tomato, skinned and quartered (if you're using a Vitamix leave the skin on) 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 shallot, minced ½ cup cilantro 2 avocado or 1 cup “wholly guacamole” juice of ½ a lime ¼ tsp black pepper pinch of salt ¼-½ tsp ground chipotle pepper, optional Salad: 6 cups fresh greens (1 use 2 cups of greens per adult, 1 cup per child) 1 English cucumber, diced 1 orange pepper, diced 1 red pepper, diced 3 cups cooked black beans, (drained and rinsed if using canned beans) Make the dressing by putting all dressing ingredients into your food processor and blending until smooth.  Taste and adjust for heat if you like --- add ¼- ½ tsp chipotle pepper if you like things spicy. Next, dice your veggies and mix them with the cooked beans.  Toss with the dressing and set aside so the flavors combine. Tear or cut your greens into bite sized pieces.  When you’re plating, you can either lay down a bed of greens and top it with the veg mixture or mix everything together and put the tossed chopped salad onto the plates.  My family naturally mixes their veg in with their greens as soon as they dig in, but I admit that the plates look prettier if you put down the greens first and top them… but that’s just aesthetics!  If you are not serving this right away definitely keep the greens separate until you're ready to serve.  For portion sizes, I use 1 cup of the bean/veg mixture for each adult and 1/2-3/4 cup per child. Enjoy!

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