Creating a go-to meal for family, friends and guests can present a challenge when considering the many food restrictions, allergies and personal preferences in play. I can appreciate the sentiment of my friend, a single dad of three, who declared loudly over all of the different kid requests, “This is not a diner!” At the same time, when someone’s health, comfort or ethical beliefs are at stake... I aim to accommodate. A lactose-induced stomachache can take the fun out of an otherwise perfect day. This recipe is as flexible as they come: anything can go in, or out!
The base:Salt and pepperFresh mixed greensFresh lemon1/2 tbsp olive oil or avocado oil or can of spray oil4 avocados
Meaty topping:Salt and pepper1 lb. choice: ground beef; ground turkey; 1 block tempeh, shredded1 onion and 1 red pepper, both thinly sliced, combined with 1 shredded carrot3 tbsp olive oil1/2 tsp dried thyme1/2 tsp dried oregano1 tsp dried garlic1 tsp dried onion1/2 tsp paprika3/4 tsp cumin1/2 tsp curry powder1/4 tsp cayenne pepper3-5 tbsp water
Fixins:1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved1 cucumber, sliced, seeds removedShredded cheese or shredded non-dairy cheeseRanch dressing (healthy brand works! non dairy or regular)Red’s hot sauce (or no hot sauce)Fresh lime
Method:Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 3 tablespoons of chosen oil to pan until hot. Season your choice of “meaty topping” with salt and pepper, then add to heated skillet and oil to cook thoroughly until browned nicely to create flavor. Add all flavorings (omitting or adding more or less of what you prefer) and then add 3 tbsp. of water. Bring to a slight boil and then simmer 2-3 minutes until all of the spices have softened and been absorbed (use extra water if not softened and absorbed).
To construct, lay out fresh greens at the bottom of a large salad bowl. Coat greens with a quick spray of oil or mix in 1/2 tbsp oil, then add a squeeze of fresh lemon, salt and pepper lightly. Cut avocado in half and remove pit. Use a large tablespoon to scoop out each side whole and place them side by side in the bowl. Salt and pepper lightly, and sprinkle a touch of cumin on top of the avocado. Now, heartily add the “meaty topping” of your choice over both avocado halves. Top with shredded cheese, and surround with a hefty serving of tomatoes and cucumbers. Dress modestly with a few squeezes of ranch, some Red’s hot sauce, a squeeze of lime, and a final hit of salt and pepper. You can even add salsa or your favorite queso, and if you know me, yes, a fried egg works to top this one off too! Serve with a sharp knife so you can slice the avocado nicely as you dig in.