In 2009, I had the great pleasure of meeting Jaden Hair at her book signing in New York City. Jaden is a fantastic cook, and the talented author of the popular blog Steamy Kitchen. With her huge smile and endearing personality, Jaden never fails to light up the room.
Last week I was honored to contribute a guest post for Steamy Kitchen – and may I say, it was a thrill to create a recipe that would match both her personality and her gorgeous blog.
Since Jaden and I both adore fresh, bold, colorful salads, I decided to create a summery one, using heirloom tomatoes, ripe avocados and baby arugula from my garden. The whole salad is drizzled with a spunky cilantro vinaigrette that’s almost like a cilantro pesto (the pine nuts give the dressing a lovely creaminess).
Then the salad is garnished with crispy wonton strips that have been lightly sautéed in olive oil until they’re crunchy and golden-brown. Every bite is a delight, offering a marvelous array of flavors and textures.
To read my guest post for Jaden, click here. While you’re there, make sure to take a few minutes to peruse Jaden’s site. It’s filled with treasures that you’ll love to discover.
How about serving an aromatic white like a Grüner Veltliner from Austria, Slovakia or Czech Republic? The best examples of this varietal deliver full-bodied, perfumed wines with peppery notes that are a delight to sip. My second recommendation for this flavor-packed salad would be a dry rosé.
Heirloom tomato and avocado salad with crispy wontons and spicy cilantro vinaigrette
active time: 20 min
For the wontons
- 12 square wonton noodles
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- sea salt to taste
For the vinaigrette
- 1 oz (30 g) cilantro leaves (1 cup, tightly packed)
- 1 tablespoon pine nuts
- 1 garlic clove – skinned
- 2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon maple syrup or organic sugar
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne
For the salad
- 5 oz (140 g) baby arugula – rinsed and spin-dried
- 2 ripe avocados – cut in 1″ pieces
- 1 1/4 lbs (565 g) mixed heirloom tomatoes – cut in 1″ pieces
- freshly ground white pepper to taste
- Step 1: Cut the wontons in 1/4″ strips. Heat a large frying pan at medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and wonton strips. Toss well, then sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until they become golden-brown, continuing to toss occasionally. Transfer wontons to a paper towel and sprinkle with the salt.
- Step 2: To make the vinaigrette – Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Process until creamy, about 1 minute, scraping the sides of the bowl once. Transfer to a small bowl.
- Step 3: Divide the arugula into 4 salad bowls. Top with the avocado and tomato pieces. Drizzle with the vinaigrette. Garnish with the crispy wontons. Sprinkle with the pepper and serve immediately.
Crispy wontons, step by step
Cut the wontons in 1/4″ strips.
Heat a large frying pan at medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and wonton strips.
Toss well, then sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until they become golden-brown, continuing to toss occasionally.
This is how the wontons look when they are done.
Transfer wontons to a paper towel and sprinkle with the salt.
Disclaimer: As always, my point of view is my own. I do not accept samples, and have no commercial relationship with any product, food or wine company.