Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Paleo Cuban Salad with Avocado Vinaigrette



I love it when a Paleo plan comes together. Last week, before we moved to Virginia Beach, we took a day trip to Roanoke to wrap up some last minute errands, and we stopped to have lunch at a Cuban restaurant downtown. We've been there before, and we usually order the crispy pork with Mojo sauce, green and sweet plantains, and the house Cuban salad with avocado vinaigrette. Before the Paleo Police come arrest me, let me say that we know that this meal is not completely Paleo. There is probably sugar in the Mojo sauce, the pork is not pastured, and the plantains are probably fried in canola oil. When we are eating out, we make the best choices we can while still enjoying ourselves and living in the moment. So #saveithaters. We have never claimed, nor will we ever claim to be Paleo perfectionists. At least we didn't order the black beans and rice. I used to love those! Oh well...



One reason I think it is ok to eat out on occasion is because you can draw inspiration from the meals you experience, and take the ideas home and turn them into completely Paleo meals that can be enjoyed guilt-free on a regular basis. I knew that I could easily recreate the crispy pork using the Citrus Carnitas recipe from the Well Fed Paleo cookbook, and also that I could use the Cuban Spiced Plantain from Beyond Bacon (which, by the way, is available now on Amazon and in stores!!). I was so excited to be able to make the carnitas with Polyface Pastured Pork! I can't believe that I have access to a store that is the exclusive retail establishment that sells their meat 6 days a week, 10 minutes from my new home.#blessed So all I had left to do was assemble a salad similar to the one I had and create my own recipe for an Avocado Vinaigrette. The salad we were served was plated in a deconstructed style, like a Cuban version of a Cobb Salad, and I encourage you to serve it this way, so that your guests can enjoy the beautiful presentation and also choose what ingredients they would like to have on their plate. Although I don't get it, not everyone likes onions or avocados, and plating it this way allows them the flexibility to get what they like without seeming rude for picking things out of a mixed salad. I also highly suggest you prepare these three dishes together, because they make a fantastic Paleo Cuban Feast!



Citrus Carnitas from Well Fed Cookbook
Cuban Spiced Plantains from Beyond Bacon Cookbook

Avocado Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

Flesh of 1 ripe hass avocado
1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
Juice from 1 lemon
Juice from 1 lime
1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
1/3 cup of purified water
1/2 teaspoon of granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
fresh ground pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Blend all ingredients in a mini-food processor or blender. If the dressing is too thick, you can add a bit more water. Make sure to taste to check for seasonings and adjust to your preference.


Deconstructed Cuban Salad

Ingredients:

1/2 a bag of organic Arugula ( I bought mine at Trader Joe's)
1 small organic heirloom yellow tomato, sliced
1 small organic heirloom red tomato, sliced
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup of sliced green olives
1/2 a sliced avocado
1/2 a diced mango

Directions:
 1. Lay a bed of arugula on your serving platter.
2. Arrange your ingredients in sections, like you would a cobb salad. Make sure to fan the avocado, and also to layer the tomatoes alternating colors for the best visual effect. We eat with our eyes first, after all!
3. Season the salad with fresh ground pepper and sea salt.
4. Serve with Avocado Vinaigrette 
 
I loved the weird, but completely wonderful combination of the fatty avocado, sweet mango, briny green olives, sharp red onions and savory tomatoes with the creamy and tart vinaigrette. I probably wouldn't have come up with that combination on my own (mangoes and green olives - what?!?!) , but that doesn't mean I can't improve upon the idea with superior, high quality ingredients that I trust. I encourage you to not be so much of a Paleo perfectionist that you avoid restaurants completely. You might miss out on some great ideas that you can "paleo-ize" and incorporate into your regular routine. Date night out is also good for the soul on occasion -- just try to keep it to way less than the average, and you will enjoy it all the more. :)

Also, I highly suggest both books mentioned in this post, and they are recommended in my "What the heck is Paleo anyway?" post. Well Fed is from the talented Melissa Joulwan from the blog "The Clothes Make the Girl," and Beyond Bacon in from Matt and Stacy from the awesome site, Paleo Parents. Melissa has another cookbook coming out, Well Fed 2, and I can't wait! It's available for pre-order now on Amazon. These two bloggers have extensive, free recipe indexes on their websites, so go check them out!

I hope you guys enjoy your Paleo Cuban Feast!

3 comments:

  1. I just recreated this meal, but used the carnitas and salad toppings as fillings for lettuce wraps, using the avocado vinaigrette as dressing. SO GOOD! only one issue: i live alone and this recipe made tons of the avocado vinaigrette. How long does it last? What other things could you pair it with?

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