Strawberry Avocado Salad

I made you a salad…and by you, I mean me.

And if it’s alright with you, I’m just going to tell you how to make this salad without all the fuss of an actual recipe with measurements. Cool? Cool. Because really, who measures out vegetables for their salad? I can get on board with measuring salad dressing ingredients, but I guarantee you I’m gonna put as much avocado in my salad as I want, regardless of what a recipe calls for. Yeah, probably double what the recipe calls for, because double avocado means I’m double happy, and when I’m double happy, good things happen. Like layer cake. But I’m getting ahead of myself. You’re just gonna have to hold your horses for that one.

So, about this salad: it’s so good. Good enough to fill a giant bowl all for yourself and call it a meal. Good enough to fill an even more giant bowl and bring to a party…but then you’d probably have to share it. That’s not ideal.

Start with a generous pile of arugula. Layer with cucumbers, sliced in thin half moons. Add lots of strawberry slices and as much chopped avocado as your heart desires. Top with chopped pecans and blue cheese (or not, vegans!). For dressing, drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a little bit of agave. You can even crank some freshly ground pepper on there. I sure did. Now dig in! Bask in strawberry avocado bliss.

I should add that I’m showing a rather impressive amount of self control here by not ending this post with a picture of one or both of my puppies. I love them so much…possibly even more than I love this salad. Possibly.

~ Becky, a skinnyfat girl

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Avocado Paninis with Basil Mayo on Whole Wheat Focaccia

We eat a lot of sandwiches ’round here.

They’re quick and easy, perfect for those nights when we’re too ravenous to take the time to cook. They’re also super healthy if you use lots of veggies and a great whole grain bread. Yesterday, I got the hankering for a hearty, whole wheat bread and found a wonderful recipe that I hope you’ll try. Homemade bread makes the absolute best sandwiches! A panini maker doesn’t hurt, either. My gem of a sister-in-law got me a mini George Foreman for Christmas and I’ve been making great use of it.

If you’re not into baking your own bread (it’s quite a process!), I’ve put the sandwich recipe first so you can try it out with your favorite store-bought bread. It’s a delicious combination of flavors!

Avocado Panini with Basil Mayo

Basil Mayo:
Combine 2 T mayo or substitute (I love Vegenaise, a great vegan option, or olive oil mayo) with 1 T fresh basil, chopped tiny, a sprinkle of garlic powder, and a few grinds of fresh black pepper.

Sandwich:
Bread (duh)
Avocado, sliced or mashed
Tomato, sliced
Red onion, thinly sliced
Fresh baby spinach
Monterrey Jack or Mozzarella cheese

Spread the mayo on bread, pile on the sandwich fixings, grill, and enjoy! Simple and delicious.

The next half of this post is dedicated to those of you who, like me, are willing to wait 14 hours for a fresh loaf of bread.

Yes, I said 14 hours.

Fear not, brave soul! There isn’t a whole lot of actual work involved in making this bread, just a whole lot of waiting. You know how yeast works, right? You’ve gotta be patient with it. In this case, extremely patient, because we’re making a poolish, which is a pre-fermented dough that needs to sit for 12 hours. But you don’t have to do anything – touch it, move it, stir it, nothing. Just let it sit there. You can sit, too, if you want. Take a nap, even. It’s easiest to whip up the poolish before you go to bed and it will be ready in the morning. You can even extend the time the poolish sits to almost 20 hours if necessary.

Let’s go!

Whole Wheat Olive Oil Focaccia
Recipe (barely adapted) by Food Network

Poolish:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup steel-cut oats
3/4 cup water
Pinch active dry yeast

Whisk all your poolish ingredients together in a medium bowl, cover, and let sit at room temperature for 12 hours, or longer if refrigerating. When it’s ready, prepare the rest of your dough.

Dough:
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oat flour
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
2 1/4 t active dry yeast
2 t fine salt
1 3/4 cups warm water (about 110 degrees F)
1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Whisk the dry ingredients (flours, flax meal, yeast, and salt) in a large bowl. Stir in the poolish, water, and olive oil to form a loose, sticky dough. Cover with a towel and let sit for 30 minutes (I know, more waiting). The original recipe actually calls for two additional 30-minute rising periods, but I was too impatient and skipped them. The bread turned out wonderful, but feel free to stick to the original recipe and let it rise longer if you like.

Preheat the oven to 425 and spray your pans with olive oil. Divide your dough into the two pans – I used a springform pan and a square nonstick casserole dish! You can use whatever baking pans you have; it doesn’t have to look beautiful. The loaves should look like discs (unless using a square pan, obviously 🙂 ), about 2 -3 inches deep.

Topping:
1/3 cup olive oil
6 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
Dried herbs, optional (I used thyme)

Combine the olive oil, garlic, and herbs and spread evenly over the two loaves. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until golden brown, remove from pans and let cool. Perfect for avocado paninis!

My favorite thing about this bread is the glorious olive-oil and garlic-flavored crust. Extra virgin olive oil is where it’s at, people. It tastes divine. I put it on nearly everything I eat. Not dessert…but yeah, everything else. 

This sandwich would be good cold, but if you crispify it (trust me, that’s a word) you end up with an olive oil crunch layer that almost makes you forget about the taste explosion that is basil mayo.

On a side note, Elesha and I have decided to post every Saturday and Wednesday, respectively, so y’all will have a better idea of when to be on the lookout for new recipes. Also, be sure to check out our updated Recipe page and the Skinnyfat Recipe Makeover page. We’re so thankful for all of you and we look forward to sharing more food adventures with you this year, so keep reading!

But first, make a sandwich.

~ Becky, a skinnyfat girl

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