BLT/Avocado Salad with Roasted Pepper Dressing

Becky’s BLT/Avocado Salad with Roasted Pepper Ranch Dressing

(Becky)

When my daughter Rachel was a little girl, I asked her, “What would you rather be when you grow up, a doctor or a nurse?”  I wanted her to know she would not be bound by gender rules, that she could be anything she wanted to be as an adult.

She pondered it for a minute then answered, thoughtfully.  “I’m not sure. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see which outfit looks better on me.”

Though her reasoning may be dubious from a career-choosing standpoint, I must admit that I adopt her philosophy a lot when it comes to cooking.   “What’s for dinner?” my husband will ask.  “I don’t know yet,” I’ll say as I rummage through the fridge.  “It depends on what jumps out at me, sounds good and looks pretty in a picture for the food blog.”

Rachel and I laugh that the way to get food re-pinned on Pinterest is to put a slice of avocado on it.  We’ve debated about putting a piece of avocado on everything we make, from desserts to cocktails, as our “signature garnish.”  Because, let me tell you,  people love the sight of a green, ripe avocado in food pictures!

Thus, using those guidelines,  this salad was born.  At the end of groceries I had one meat protein left in the fridge: natural, nitrate-free bacon.  (Though I’m shifting toward vegetarianism, my husband is staying put in the land of meat for now, so I try to buy the least processed, organic varieties.)   I thought about a BLT sandwich, but our waistlines are calling for more vegies and less bread.  Ah-ha!  A BLT salad! Then  I spied some of those little sweet red and yellow peppers in the crisper. With a roasted pepper dressing! Yes!  I pulled out a little of the leftover cornbread in the back of the fridge, spread with butter and broiled until crispy, like a giant cornbread crouton.  Ta-dah.   Dinner done.

Needless to say, it worked.  We WILL be having this salad again.

Vegetarians and Vegans:  There are lots of bacon bits that are great for vegans and vegetarians. McCormicks makes a tasty brand and is easy to find at most any grocery store.

Becky’s BLT/Avocado Salad with Roasted Pepper Dressing

BLT/Avocado Salad with Roasted Pepper Dressing

Makes two meal-sized salads

Ingredients

Nitrate Free Uncured Bacon (8 slices, cut in one inch pieces with kitchen scissors before cooking. It is okay if they stick together in little bundles.  They will separate in the skillet as the fat melts.)

(Vegans: use 1/4 cup vegan “bacon bits” in place of bacon, such as McCormick’s brand. Or make your own vegan coconut bacon.)

2 cups mixed salad greens (I used spinach and romaine)

2 small to medium tomatoes, diced

1 avocado,  peeled and diced

1 red pepper or 4  small sweet peppers, roasted (See pics below) (You can also used jarred roast peppers if you have them on hand.)

1/2 cup your favorite Ranch Dressing (There are plenty of good vegan varieties! Also, to cut calories, you may want to use 1/4 cup Greek Yogurt for 1/4 cup of the Ranch Dressing.)

Directions:

Cook the cut up bacon over medium high heat in a skillet until the pieces are golden crisp and brown.  Drain on paper towels.   While bacon is cooking, roast the peppers over a gas flame or under the broiler. Put them in a plastic bag when they have a good char all around so the steam will loosen the skin.  Wipe the charred pepper skin off with a paper towel.

Tiny red peppers roasting on an open fire… 🙂

Red peppers in a sandwich baggy, steaming and loosening the charred skin

Wiping away the charred skin with paper towel. Don’t worry about getting all char off of the peppers. Some of it adds flavor.

Into each of two large salad bowls (I like big pasta bowls for this), put one cup of mixed salad greens.  Sprinkle each salad with half the tomatoes and avocados.  Top with crispy bacon or bacon bits.

Put Ranch Dressing and roasted pepper into a food processor or blender.  Blend to desired consistency.  I left the peppers a little bit chunky.

Ladle dressing down the middle of the salads and serve.  A few turns of  fresh pepper are nice.  This is especially good with cornbread on the side.

Variations: Additional yummy add-ins could be thinly sliced red onion or chopped green onion, corn, beans, or a diced boiled egg.

BLT/Avocado Salad with Roasted Pepper Dressing

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The Title: BLT/Avocado Salad wth Roasted Pepper Dressing
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Killer Chipotle & Roasted Pepper Salsa (with a Side of Relational Advice)

Sometimes life is funny, and sometimes, not so much.  “Mama said there’d be days like this,” and for days like this you need three things: a good friend, some good clear-the-air advice, and some comfort food. Then, before too long, life can be funny again.

A single girlfriend and I were talking this morning about toxic relationships. Particularly we were pondering the differences between normal friends who are in a temporary season of pain who deserve and need our empathy, patience and compassion;  versus toxic friends whose problems are unending and sap all the energy and joy out of every minute we spend with them, like an Emotional Hoover.

We came up with the 3 B’s that signal it might be time to Back Away from a Relationship.  Red flags, we decided,  are:

1. Belittling — when a person makes you feel small, talks down to you, uses superior tones

2. Blaming — when the person’s default mode is always to blame someone else and never takes any responsibility for their part in bad situations. If someone is constantly blaming others or the universe or God for their problems, it won’t be long before they are blaming and attacking you.

3. Black-Hole — normal people have seasons of neediness and self-focus following tragedy or during illness or stress; but toxic people are walking black holes of ever-growing, never-ceasing, and always-changing need

Having discussed relationship sticky-wickets to our mutual satisfaction, we turned the conversation to comfort food.  In fact, we discussed the perfect food for washin’ a crazy-making friend or a bad day right out of our mind.  In her book, Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert quoted someone’s grandmother as saying, “There’s no trouble in this world so serious that it can’t be cured with a hot bath, a glass of whiskey, and the Book of Common Prayer.”  I agree with the hot bath and Book of Common Prayer, but my preferred comfort beverage would be a frosty margarita alongside  a big bowl of spicy, chunky, smoky, colorful homemade salsa and chips.

And it just so happens that I make the best chunky smoky salsa in the universe. (Ditto on the margs… but that is for another post, another time.)  When my daughter Rachel had her baby this past summer,  I made salsa day after day because her husband Jared loves salsa and chips like only a Texas boy can. This gave me a chance to perfect my recipe, and this is the best of the best!

So come to Mama for the recipe, then whip up a quart of this brain-cleansing salsa, grab some chips and your fave margarita, find a spot in the sun, chill out and let the stress fall away.

Life is hard enough,  your salsa should be easy.  This version is oh so forgiving, allowing lots of variations to the basic recipe.

Everyone I serve this to asks for the recipe, so be prepared to share! (Also usually makes enough to send some home with your grateful guests.)

Becky’s Killer Chipotle & Roasted Pepper Salsa

Ingredients:

Makes about a Quart of Salsa

Into a food processor or blender put:

1/2 of a  28 oz can organic crushed fire roasted tomatoes (save the other half to add later)
1/2 red onion
1 fresh tomato, quartered
2 garlic cloves, peeled
* 3 small peppers (yellow, orange and red) roasted (see picture below)
(Alternatives: If roasted hatch chilis are in season, these are delicious replacements or additions! Or you can use a couple of roasted peppers from a jar,  small can green chilies,  or roast some tomatillos.)
A nice  palm full of cilantro (if you like it)
2 large fresh jalapenos, seeded; 1 if you prefer milder (you can substitute pickled jalapenos as well)
**2 chipotle peppers in adobe sauce (1 if you prefer milder)
(You can find these small cans of chipotles-in-adobe-sauce in most grocery stores now, on the Mexican food aisle; see picture below.)
2 T. white vinegar
2 t. sugar
sea salt to taste
1/2 fresh lime, squeezed
1 t. smoked paprika (this just adds to the smokiness, but is not essential)
Directions:
Process until mixtures has the consistency you like for salsa. Then stir in the rest of the crushed tomatoes which will give it a nice chunky texture.
Check seasonings once more. Grab a bag of chips, a margarita and enjoy.  This makes a lot, so I often freeze half to use at a later time.

*I put three small peppers on my gas flame (set to high)  and roast them while I’m tossing the rest of the ingredients into the blender, turning as they blacken.  Simply scrape off most of the blackened skin (I use a damp paper towel for this job),  seed them and pop in the blender.  You can also halve them and broil them if you don’t have a gas burner.

Roasting small tri-colored peppers on a gas burner

** Here’s what a can of chipotle peppers in adobe sauce looks like.  These babies are strong, and I often only use one or two, so I pop the rest (along with the sauce) in a small freezer bag and store them in the freezer.  When I need one I just cut off what I need.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Killer Chipotle & Roasted Pepper Salsa
The URL: https://welaughwecrywecook.com/2012/03/28/killer-chipotle-roasted-pepper-salsa-with-a-side-of-relational-advice
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