It is hard to believe avocado was once on my "do not consume" list.
It was one of those foods that just clicked for me in my adult life. Perhaps I just grew tired of saying "no avocado please" when ordering at restaurants since they manage to work it into every sandwich, salad and beyond here in California. It is now rare that a day goes by where I do not eat this creamy, buttery fruit.
So when my friend, Elysse, over at The Daily Binge told me about the "Avocado Takedown", I decided that was a great way to get my avocado on last Sunday.
Let me explain this to you: 20 local chefs, 20 dishes featuring avocado, 20 samples to taste/judge (top chef style), $10, stuffed.
This event was just the perfect example of what I love about LA. There is always so much to do. Even when you think you might not have anything exciting to do on a Sunday afternoon, an irresistible event somehow makes its way through your email inbox or on your facebook newsfeed. I cannot think of anything in the world that would have been more worth my time last Sunday afternoon. I ate like a king for just $10, well...a king who really likes avocados.
The dishes were creative. I realized avocado was far more versatile than they usually get credit for. I remember a couple years ago, my friend Candace made vegan chocolate cupcakes with a "secret ingredient", and no one could guess what it was. When she told us it was avocado, it finally made sense that this fruit really does have the consistency of butter. The flavor is mild and nutty which is always something that works well with desserts. In fact, my favorite dish from the competition was a dessert.
Avocado cream cheese cake with mint whipped topping.
Other interesting dishes were:
The avocado bacon muffin:
An avocado and nut mixture wrapped in steak with a side slaw:
Avocado pesto pasta with an avocado "meatball" on top:
Avocado ice cream with pomegranate whipped topping:
Dark chocolate avocado caliente cupcake:
Then they gave us these cute bags on the way out:
Sunday night has become "Sunday Night Salad" Night at the Lindzachary household. Even after being stuffed with avocado-based foods all day, I could not resist throwing it into the salad I made. This recipe is a copycat for one of my favorite new salads to order for lunch while on the job. It is from Doughboy's Cafe and Bakery which has recently taken over as lunch king at work. Every day my coworkers Sara (at Lovely Clear Sweet, Ally and I mildly struggle to decide where to order our lunch from. If we are honest, the struggle is always to figure out a place that will satisfy us at least half as much as Doughboys since we cannot eat there every single day (record: 4 days in a row). I even found myself there with Zach and Stanley one Friday night; I cannot get enough of this place. They have amazing salads (favorites include "the works", the chef salad" and "basil roasted chicken salad"), freshly baked bread that is soft and well, doughy (I could make a mattress out of this plush ciabatta bread that comes with the salads), and they have a huge rest of the menu that includes "the after-school special: a huge grilled cheese sandwich and a PINT of chunky/creamy tomato soup, sloppy joe's, etc. They also have an extensive brunch menu that includes things like rice krispy pancakes and malted cornmeal pancakes; that will have to be a different story.
I copied the basil roasted chicken salad for dinner. While the salad was good, and I got pretty close, I would still recommend trying out the real thing...it really cannot be beat.
Copycat Doughboy's Basil Roasted Chicken Salad:
2 boneless/skinless chicken breasts (or about 6 boneless/skinless chicken tender cutlets)
2 navel oranges
1 bunch of basil (a generous handful)
1/4 c Citrus olive oil (I happened to have some, but you can just use canola oil with a drop of orange extract)
1/4 c White balsamic vinegar
Cut one orange into 4 sections. Squeeze the juice out and place juice with the peel in a plastic bag. Chop up half of the basil, and ad to the bag.
Add the chicken breasts or tenders to the bag and marinate for at least an hour (or overnight).
Heat a pan over med-high heat.
Add a tablespoon of oil to the pan.
Cook the chicken in the pan, about 3-5 minutes on each side until cooked all the way through.
In a large bowl, add mixed greens, the other orange (peeled and sliced), the gorgonzola cheese, the avocado (peeled and sliced), the tomato (chopped), the rest of the basil (chopped) and the roasted walnuts.
Mix the oil and vinegar thoroughly and toss into the salad. Once the chicken is cooled, chop it up and toss it in.