I like to serve these as an appetizer portion in a cleansing New Year’s Day lunch to help ring in the year on a healthy note after weeks of eating decadently.
With cool, green flesh serving as the backdrop for the tropical pink orange hue of the hot smoked fish, these first course lovelies are certainly easy on the eyes. But they can be tricky little buggers to tuck into if you don’t take a few precautionary measures in the kitchen to ensure these appetizers are eater friendly in the dining room. First, taking a small slice off the fruit’s backside will help it sit evenly on the plate. Secondly, using the small end of melonballer to elongate the natural hole left by the pit’s removal allows the salmon salad to nestle neatly into the curve of the avocado.
These appetizers are preceded by sparkling pomegranate and lemon juice mocktails and spiced nuts mixed with dried sour cherries to pass. And they are followed by chickpea and potato soup with cayenne pepper and winter greens as the main course and blueberry-cinnamon compote served with Greek yogurt and honey for dessert.
This menu incorporates cleansing anti-oxidant rich fruits, good-fat rich proteins and fiber-filled vegetables. Most of the courses are united with variant combinations of metabolism-boosting spices -- cumin, coriander, cinnamon and chili – which meld with a variety other ingredients so that your guests won’t think you’re going to all this trouble merely for their health, but are doing so strictly for their pleasure.
All ingredients can be purchased days in advance, some dishes can be made the day before, and no recipe takes longer than 45 minutes to pull together. So don’t fret if you need to lie in a bit to sleep off the previous night’s festivities, you can just chalk it up to your vow to get more shut eye.
six as an appetizer
minced chipotle in adobo sauce (more adobo sauce can be added to taste)
light sour cream
cumin seeds, toasted and ground to a fine powder
real maple syrup
lemons, one juiced and one cut into six sections to be used for garnish
hot smoked salmon*, skin removed and flesh broken into bite-sized pieces
frech bell pepper, diced in 1/4-inch pieces
cilantro, chopped, plus more cilantro sprigs for garnish
ripe Haas avacados, halved with pits removed
In This Recipe
In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, cumin, maple syrup and one teaspoon of lemon juice. Put the pieces of hot smoked salmon in a medium bowl and add the diced bell pepper and chopped chives and coriander. Set both bowls aside momentarily.
Take one avocado half and using a sharp knife take a thin slice of skin and flesh (no more than 1/8 inch) off the roundest part of the underside of the fruit. Turn the avocado over and rest it on its newly flattened backside.
Using the small end of a mellon baller, remove four balls of flesh from around the hole left by the pit. Place the avocado balls into the bowl with the salmon. You are simply trying to make the naturally round hole a bit more oval in shape. Take care not to remove too much flesh as you want to see a nice expanse of green once you place the salad into the hole.
Using a pastry brush, lightly paint lemon juice across all exposed avocado flesh to prevent it turning that unappetizing shade of grey. Set the prepared avocado on a single salad plate that you will end up serving it on. Repeat this process with all remaining avocado halves.
Gently fold the mayonnaise mixture into the salmon salad. It may take a bit of time to get all the components of the salad well coated with the limited amount of mayonnaise you’ve made. But don’t be tempted to whip up more and add it to the mix as it will overpower the other ingredients in this dish quite quickly.
Fill each avocado hole with about 1/3 cup of salmon salad. Garnish with cilantro springs and lemon slices. These prepared avocado halves can stay chilled in the refrigerator for a short time, but serve them within 30 minutes so that the mayonnaise doesn’t separate.
*NOTE: The “hot” in this ingredient does not describe its spiciness, but rather, the method by which the fish was smoked. Hot smoked fish is prepared differently from traditional cold smoked salmon (the kind you’d put on a bagel with cream cheese, for example) in that it is smoked over hot coals to a temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit so that it is fully cooked. Cold smoked salmon is smoked to a temperature of 80 degrees, so while it is cured, it is still technically raw.
I am an excellent eater (I have been all my life). I’m a pretty good cook (Ask my kids!). And my passable writing improves with alcohol (whether it's the writer or the reader that needs to drink varies by sentence.). I just published my first cookbook, Green Plate Special, which focuses on delicious recipes that help every day cooks eat more sustainably.