Today at Costco, I bought Jamie Oliver's new cookbook "Jamie's America." The premise of the cookbook is that Jamie Oliver traveled all over America experiencing local cuisine and gathering inspiration for his own recipes. There are sections on New York City, Louisiana, the Southwest, Los Angeles, Georgia, and the "Wild West" (Wyoming and Montana). The book is filled with gorgeous pictures, stories about locals, and delicious twists on classic American foods.
I decided my first test would be the "Mad Dog" Salad, inspired by the flavors of Arizona. The idea of roasting avocado really intrigued me, and I have to say it is quite amazing how much flavor is brought out when an avocado is roasted. The salad was great, tons of flavor and filling enough to be a meal in itself (though I did add steak that I grilled on my Emeril stove top cast iron grill to mine). I also grilled a jalapeño instead of using scotch bonnets (a little bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper on the jalapeños before grilling makes them delicious!)
Mad Dog Salad
3 ripe avocados
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cumin seeds (or ground cumin works too)
2 large handfuls of regular tortilla chips (I used multigrain)
A large handful of freshly grated white cheddar cheese
A handful of pine nuts
A handful of pumpkin seeds
A large handful of cress or alfalfa (sprouts)
4 good handfuls of mixed, interesting salad leaves, washed and spun dry
Juice of 1 lemon
Extra virgin olive oil
2 Scotch bonnets or other interesting chiles, seeded and thinly sliced
Preheat your oven to full whack. Halve, pit, and peel your avocados and lay them on a sheet pan. Drizzle some olive oil and season generously with salt, pepper, and a really good pinch of cumin seeds. Toss until nicely coated, then roast in the oven for about 15 minutes so they get a bit of color. While this is happening, get another sheet pan, lay out your tortilla chips, and sprinkle over your cheddar, pine nuts, and pumpkin seeds. You're going to pop this pan into the oven about 4 minutes before the avocado is ready to come out, so the cheese has time to melt and the nuts and seeds toast a little.
Mix your cress or alfalfa and salad leaves together. Drizzle over the lemon juice and 3 times as much extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle over a good pinch of salt and pepper. Quickly toss together so everything is perfectly dressed. Take your avocados and pan of tortillas out of the oven.
Put your cheesy tortilla chips, nuts, and seeds on a platter or divide between plates., slice or tear over the avocado, then scatter your lovely dressed salad over the top. Finish by sprinkling over as much fresh chile as you dare.