Posted by: timscooking | February 24, 2010

A Taste of California Sunshine

Our nephew, Jeremy, his wife, Eva and son, Lukas live north of San Francisco in Sonoma County, California. Being in one of the rich wine regions of that state, they are always exploring the great food and wine culture that exists there and try to use many of the local ingredients in their cooking. Eva and I have been trading recipes and recently she told me about a grilled avocado and tomato salad she found online from Napa Valley chef, Michael Chiarello.  It sounded great, but when there is 8 inches of snow covering the grill and surrounding patio, I usually file away such recipes for future reference.

The other day though, I found some great ripe avocados, and being inspired by the dish Eva had described, I thought I might try a simpler, winter version of the salad. One of the primary ingredients that really made the dish was the California olive oil Jeremy and Eva had sent us for Christmas. It came from a small family owned winery and olive oil producer, Lava Vine ( ).  Many of the small family owned wineries in Sonoma and other areas have begun to produce some excellent small batch olive oils that have limited availability in retail locations but can be ordered direct on-line. A good source for two others that I have used, Pasolivio from Willow Creek Olive Ranch and Storm Ranch Olive Oil is Zingerman’s Deli ( ). You will want to try different producers, as each has its own unique qualities, until you find one or two you like.

Avocado and Tomato Salad

2 ripe Haas avocados, large diced

2 Roma or plum tomatoes, large diced

1/4 – 1/3 cup of chopped red onion

3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

1/3 – 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

1/4 cup of roasted pine nuts

Place the diced avocados in a glass bowl and add the lemon juice. Set aside. Dice the tomatoes and chop the red onion. In a separate bowl, pour off the lemon juice from the avocados onto the red onion and let sit for 10 minutes to reduce the heat in the onions. Gently fold the tomatoes and onions into the avocados being careful not to mash the avocados in the process. Drizzle the olive oil over the salad, season with salt and pepper to taste and plate. Garnish with the toasted pine nuts and serve with a sourdough baguette.

This would also work well as a great topping for bruschetta. Just dice the avocado and tomato smaller.



  1. Tim,

    How do you tell if an avocado is ripe? Never had luck when I have brought to use in a recipe.

    • I usually can tell by how they feel. A ripe avocado will have some give to it when you give it a squeeze. The softer the feel the riper the avocado. If you don’t plan on using it the same day, you can place it in a brown paper bag and put it on the counter overnight. I save the bags most stores use to bag wine for this. They are perfect for ripening avocados and tomatoes on the counter or storing fresh mushrooms in the fridge.

  2. Uncle Tim, this version sounds (and looks) just as yummy as the original and with much simpler preparation! I like your idea of diced avocado and everything mixed together, definitely easier to eat that way. Pine nuts is what makes this dish. Yumm, can’t wait to make this salad again!

  3. […] A Taste of California Sunshine February 2010 3 comments 5 […]

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