Smitten with Smitten Kitchen; Avocado Cup Salad, Two ways Revised

for those that don’t know, Smitten Kitchen is a food blog that focuses on stepped up comfort food from scratch. i first came across it when browsing through Pinterest for dinner recipes.  i saw a beautiful picture of Baked Crunchy Pork Chops and knew i’d score extra points with the bf if i made it.  it was a huge hit and not too hard to make. since then i’ve tried a few more recipes from the site, and every single one of them was a hit.  even the ones that didn’t come out ideal, due to my poor skills in cooking, came out delicious.  i’m most enamored with her recipe Apple-Herb Stuffing For All Seasons. this one was such a hit that my boyfriend ate the entire dish on thanksgiving day, forcing me to make another batch the next day so that we could enough have stuffing to continue our tradition of making breakfast casserole with the leftovers.

today, however, i want to introduce you a healthy recipe by Deb of Smitten Kitchen. i’m always trying to work in a bit more vegetable into my diet.  i’ve discovered trying to eliminate something from my diet usually ends in my craving more junk foods than on the elimination list.  however, slowing adding in the good stuff and thereby not having so much room for the bad stuff seems to be working out so far.  i won’t tell you that it eliminates cravings, but it does slowly lessen them.  allow me to introduce you to Avocado Cup Salad, Two Ways.  i tinkered with both recipes a little bit, but you can see the original recipes here:
Avocado Salad with Black Beluga Lentils

1 cup black beluga lentils, cooked, drained (about 1/2cup of dry)
1 large bell pepper, finely diced (I used a mix of colors because we keep them around for the kid)
1/4 cup finely diced white or red onion
1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 1 lime)
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Dashes of hot sauce or pinches of cayenne, to taste (i’ve tried cayenne but not hot sauce)
2 ripe avocados

this recipe is really versatile.  the original recipe called for black beans.  why did i choose to replace it with black beluga lentils?  one, because the first time i made it, i thought we had dried black or red beans in the pantry, but we didn’t.  two, these cook much faster and don’t need presoaking.  we don’t have any canned goods in our pantry because we’re trying to eliminate things that might have bpa from our diet and sometimes canned beans can be a little too soft for our liking.  seriously, once you try making chickpea salad from dried garbanzo beans, you can never go back to canned. the original recipe called for juice of 1 lime.  if you decide to stick with lime, we like the juice of 2 limes, but we prefer lemon in our salads overall.  lemon seems to brighten the flavors better, and we like the acidity .  i also reduced the amount of avocado from her recipe because there’s usually just the two of us eating, and i didn’t want to have too much leftovers.  the way i have the recipe set up, it will serve 2-3 as a heavy side dish, or have it with some bread for lunch.  in the original, deb uses the avocado halves as a holding cup for the rest of the ingredients and suggests eating it with a spoon.  i’m much too lazy and messy for that, so i dice my avocados and toss it directly into the salad.

1.  prep the lentils or beans according to directions.  if you’ve gone with the black beluga lentils, i find that i prefer a cook time of 8-10 mins, rather than what the package says.

2.  dice (doesn’t matter what size, as size will just vary the texture of the salad) the bell pepper, onion and jalapeño and place in a large bowl.  i like to measure out all the above ingredients in a glass 1 cup measuring cup, so i can use it to make the salad dressing after and save myself an extra dish to wash later.

3.  combine olive oil, lime juice, salt, cumin, and cayenne/hot sauce, and whisk together to make the dressing.

4.  dice avocado into the bowl that’s holding the rest of the ingredients, mix with dressing, and serve.

lentil avocado cup salad

Avocado Salad with Black Beluga Lentils

Avocado Salad with Cucumbers and Radishes in Ginger-Miso Dressing

1 cup finely diced cucumber (from about half a long English or 2 small Persian cukes), seeds removed
1 cup finely diced radishes (from about 4 large red ones)
2 scallions, finely chopped
4 tablespoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons miso (deb recommends white miso, shiromiso, which is more mild/less salty)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon finely grated or minced fresh ginger root (or more to taste)
2 ripe avocados
1/4 teaspoon of yuzu pepper
splashes of yuzu juice to taste (i gave my bottle 4 shakes)

yuzu is a japanese citrus.  like bacon, it makes everything taste better.  maybe because i didn’t want to stock my kitchen with sesame seeds just for this recipe (deb’s original recipe called for both white and black kinds), i felt the recipe was kind of boring.  i decided to add yuzu pepper to give it some kick and yuzu juice for flavor and acidity.  it really brightens up the salad.  i also substituted low sodium brown miso for the recommended white miso, since we already had that in our fridge.  if you don’t have fresh ginger on hand, substitute 1/4 teaspoon of dried ginger instead.


1. dice cucumbers, radish, and scallions, and mix together in a large bowl.

2. mix sesame oil, rice vinegar, ginger, yuzu pepper, and yuzu juice together to make the dressing.

3. when ready to eat, dice avocado into vegetable mixture, pour in dressing, mix, and serve.

sorry i don’t have a picture of this one.  my avocados were kind of old so they were more brown than green.  needless to say, it made a hideous picture.  it doesn’t look as exciting as the lentil version anyways.  i hope you enjoy these recipes as much as we do.  to me, they’re prefect for the warm weather, since it doesn’t require me to heat or cook anything besides the lentils.  it can be served room temperature or chilled, making it a good alternative for those hot days when all you want to do is eat milk and cereal or potato salad.

Yuzu Juice and Yuzu Pepper

Yuzu Juice and Yuzu Pepper

Readers, what do you think of this recipe?  do you have any summer favorites?