Warm Caprese Bites ♥

Warm Caprese Bites @ AVeggieVenture.com, a quick summer appetizer, warm and cheesy.
graphic button small size size 10 Today's quick summer appetizer recipe: A miniature bite of caprese salad, warm and cheesy. graphic button small size size 10

So really, how does Trader Joe's read my mind? how does it know what I want before I walk the door? Blame it on all the Pretty Ways to Serve Summer's Best Tomatoes but I was feeling caprese-crazy. I stopped at Trader Joe's for those cute little mozzarella balls in the cheese section, certain I'd need to hit the farmers market later for tomatoes simultaneously big enough and small enough for the summer finger food embedded in my brain. But Trader Joe's had both the mozzarella and the perfect-size tomatoes!

And in case you're wondering, no, this isn't a paid post, a sponsored post or anything like that. I'm just in awe. We might should put Trader Joe's in charge of male-female Mars-Venus communication where "reading minds" is helpful skill set.

Avocado Recipes ♥ Alphabet of Vegetables

Avocado lovers rejoice! A whole collection of seasonal Avocado Recipes ♥ AVeggieVenture.com, savory to sweet, salads to sides, soups to supper, simple to special. And guacamole! Many Weight Watchers, vegan, gluten-free, low-carb, paleo, whole30 recipes.
This Veggie Evangelist came late to the "Avocado Craze" but is catching up, fast! Here you'll find a whole collection of avocado facts and seasonal avocado recipes, savory to sweet, salads to sides, soups to supper, simple to special. And of course, guacamole recipes too!

PS Facebook & Pinterest users, if you like A Veggie Venture, be sure to "like" and "share" and "pin" this page. More and more, search engines and even real-live human beings rely on social media indicators to identify favorite sources of trusted information. Besides, aren't your friends avocado-crazy too?!

IN A RUSH? Prefer Another Vegetable?
Skip Straight to the Recipes or Switch to the A-Z of Vegetables.

Avocado 101: THE BASICS
Pronounced [ah-vuh-KAH-doe].
Plural of Avocado. Here's how to remember the plural of avocado, tee hee. "One avocado is good, enough avocados for guacamole is even better."
Other Names for Avocado. Also called Avocado Pear, Alligator Pear (it's that nubbly skin), Butter Fruit.
The Season. California avocados are harvested December through August, exactly when depends on the variety. Since avocados are imported from Mexico, avocados are easily available year-round thus veiling the apparence of season. Still, "late season" avocados are richer than "early season" avocados, it might be one way to tell!
New-World Origins. Avocados originated in the jungles of Central America, that makes them a so-called "New World" food. Those enormous pits inside? They're the food source for new avocado trees that must fight to find light in a dense jungle. [5] Some theorize that the dense-calorie fruit adapted to appeal to large animals with high calorie requirements. [1]
Botanically Speaking. Like tomatoes, avocados are fruits not vegetables even if we treat them them as vegetables. Avocados belong to the laurel family, the trees go back and forth, producing bumper crops of 200 - 300 avocados one year and smaller crops the next.
New Word! "Climateric" Avocados are a "climateric" fruit, this means that avocados ripen on the tree but soften for eating off the tree, after they're picked. (Other common climateric fruits? Apples, bananas, apricots and tomatoes.) [1]
Ripeness vs Softness. It's easy to think of a hard avocado as "unripe". Instead, it's actually ripe but just needs some time off the tree to soften for eating.

Day 101: Eggplant Sandwiches with Cilantro Hummus ♥

Eggplant Sandwiches with Cilantro Hummus © A Veggie Venture
Today's vegetable sandwich recipe: Quick and easy, just baked eggplant slices paired with a healthy green hummus. Not just vegan, "Vegan Done Real".

~recipe updated from the Recipe Box, first posted 2005!~
~recipe republished 2015 for a little Meatless Monday inspiration~
~more recently updated recipes~

WAY BACK IN 2005: Talk about supper in a flash! It could be made still easier with a supermarket hummus. But the hummus took 10 minutes to pull together in the food processor AND, very unusually, has no added fat. I made it a few days ago (and didn't get around to the eggplant) and since it was around, had it with tomato sandwiches, grilled pepper sandwiches, etc. It's even good plain on toast! You could make it in advance, too. Or there's time to mix it while the eggplant broils.

UPDATE: I just love it when A Veggie Venture's first-year recipes still appeal. In all honestly, as much fun as I was having exploring new ways to try vegetables, I was also kind of flailing around, a new recipe for every day. Looking back, as a result, those vegetable recipes tend to be quick and easy and healthy, the kind of food you can eat every day. Nothing fancy, for sure! But eggplant and hummus make a decidedly happy sandwich!

Stacked Ratatouille ♥ A Fun Summer Recipe

Stacked Ratatouille, easy, versatile baked eggplant, summer squash and tomato @ AVeggieVenture.com. Low Carb. Paleo. Whole 30. Vegan. Weight Watchers PointsPlus 3.
graphic button small size size 10 Another hit recipe from our favorite cookbook this summer, Seven Fires by fascinating Argentinian chef Francis Mallmann. Appearance-wise, it's dramatic; preparation-wise, it's ever so simple. It's just sliced rounds of baked (and "burned"!) eggplant, tomato and summer squash, topped with a lemony spinach if you like. Works as well for one or two as for a crowd. Low Carb. Gluten Free. Paleo. Weight Watchers friendly. Whole30. Not just vegan, "Vegan Done Real". graphic button small size size 10

~recipe updated from the Recipe Box, first posted 2009!~
~more recently updated recipes~

Who remembers the 2007 movie Ratatouille? I watched it again recently on a rare wet and chilly summer night, snuggling into the story as much as a warm blanket. It's a classic, just like the classic French dish called "ratatouille" which the movie brought into the mainstream. (And taught a whole generation, perhaps two, how to pronounce the word. Can you say rat-uh-TOO-ee?) It's a sweet pleasure, made for laughing out loud during a movie for two or in a theater with a crowd.

Stacked Ratatouille, too. It's rare to find a recipe that feeds one or two as easily as it feeds a crowd.

Pretty Ways to Serve Tomatoes

Tired of same-old sliced tomatoes? Check out Pretty Ways to Serve Summer's Best Tomatoes @ AVeggieVenture.com, a collection of photos with recipes from talented food bloggers.
graphic button small size size 10 Hello, Tomato Lovers! Here's just what you've been looking for, a collection of tips and photos, all the prettiest ways to serve sweet, juicy summer tomatoes. graphic button small size size 10

Who else is as excited as all get-out that it is tomato season?! We seasonal eaters, we wait all year long for this moment.

A whole two tomato seasons ago now, I got this idea to collect pretty ways to serve the summer's best tomatoes. No cooking, no grilling, no roasting, just good tomatoes straight from the garden served in beautiful but simple ways.

You'll see what inspired that idea, it's in the first photo below, a beautiful platter of tomato slices sprinkled with dainty white garlic chive flowers with a tiny tomato bouquet of flowers in the center. Yeah, I know, sooo simple and yet so pretty.

I found so-so many ideas but pared them down to just fourteen, all from talented tomato-lovin' food bloggers. And as I studied the photos, trying really hard not to drool tomato juice, I realized that serving tomatoes in pretty ways, well, the ideas hold much in common.

Day 104: Chipotle Chickpea Salad ♥

Chipotle Chickpea Salad, beans mixed with summer-fresh vegetables and a smidgin of heat. Recipe, tips, nutrition, Weight Watchers points and rave reviews @ AVeggieVenture.com.
graphic button small size size 10 One of my favorite salads from of A Veggie Venture, canned beans mixed with summer-fresh vegetables and a smidgin of heat from a pantry ingredient, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Lots of rave reviews! graphic button small size size 10

~recipe updated 2015~
~ republished for a little weekend cooking inspiration 2015~
~more recently updated recipes~

Day 104, 2005: Who else has been tripping over recipes raving about chipotle peppers in adobo sauce? Me too. This particular recipe was published more than three years ago but chipotle peppers seem to be trendy right now. Last week I found a small can in my everyday supermarket and snatched it up. I should have bought more! This make-ahead salad feels both familiar and surprising. The dense creaminess of the chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) contrasts with the bright coolness of the tomatoes and cucumber which in turn are deepened by the dark, smoky chipotle pepper. What IS that undertone? you'll wonder. Very yummy – and very open to variation, what's on hand, what inspires. Consider sun-dried tomato, mango, pineapple or avocado.

Update July 2006: This is a great summer salad and a true "concept recipe", one begging for variation and creativity. The key sauce ingredients are mayonnaise, lime and chipotle. The key salad ingredients are some sort of bean, onion and cilantro. Some times I use black beans instead of chickpeas. I also bulk it up with corn for color contrast and bell peppers for crunch. Even with more bulk, 1 tablespoon of chipotle, with NO adobo sauce, creates plenty of heat. This salad gets rave reviews from adults and kids alike.

Update July 2010 & 2015: Turns out, this is one of my very favorite summer salads on all of A Veggie Venture, one which returns to the table again and again because it's so easy to adapt, it's 100% "real food" and, well, people really love it! I have refined my own favorite variations of the salad but it is, truly, a concept salad for you to make your own. I think you'll love this!

Pickled Beet Salad with Fresh Blueberries & Mint ♥

Pickled Beet Salad with Fresh Blueberries & Mint Recipe @ AVeggieVenture.com, five minutes to the table. Vegan. Low Carb. Weight Watchers PointsPlus 1.
graphic button small size size 10 Heads up, beet lovers! A quick 'n' easy beet salad, it makes up in five minutes. (Really!) This salad totally captivated friends who came for dinner last month, something to do with the earthy clove-y sweet beets in the same bite as bursts of summer blueberries. But if you're cooking for one or two? Good news, that works really well too. Weight Watchers PointsPlus 1. Low Cal. Low Carb. Gluten Free. Not just vegan, "Vegan Done Real". graphic button small size size 10

Oh, people! This is such a great summer salad! And it's no more than pickled beets, summer blueberries and some fresh mint. (Really, that's it!) It was one of three salads I made for our Midsummer party back in June – all which went-went-went but half to my surprise, it was the Pickled Beet Salad that sooo many people remarked upon. Ours was a mixed gathering of foodies + family. The foodies? All over this salad. (The family? Not.So.Much. So goes my life.) One quote? "I hope no one's counting but I'm going back for thirds."

So yeah, it's a great salad. But for the host? Totally easy! I pickled the beets early in the week with this recipe, Refrigerator Pickled Beets. (They're "refrigerator pickles" so there's no daunting canning required but you could also buy a jar or two of pickled beets.) Five minutes before serving, I drained the beets, tossed in a few handfuls of fresh blueberries and slivers of fresh mint. It was on the buffet in two minutes, max.