My sister-in-law Esther came for her annual visit recently. Excellent guest that she is, she always brings a few new dishes to make for us. This trip was no exception — the following trio delivered a spectacular cocktail hour and light supper one evening.
The paper plane, her new signature cocktail, was a surprise to me; I generally avoid bourbon drinks, but this one was refreshing and tasty — though one was enough!
The dip uniquely showcases avocados, deviating from the typical (though delicious) go-to guacamole. And the salad was hearty enough to be a meal, but it can also be a side or starter. A note on the salad: The original recipe contains both salami and cheese. To accommodate a kosher diet, simply omit one of these ingredients or choose your favorite vegan version of one or both.
Paper Plane | Pareve
This drink was invented by a bartender in Chicago in the late aughts. The name comes from the song “Paper Planes” by M.I.A., which was popular at the time. Both Aperol and amaro are herb-infused Italian botanical liqueurs.
2 ounces fresh lemon juice
2 ounces Aperol
2 ounces amaro
2 ounces bourbon
Place all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well. Serve it straight up or on the rocks with a lemon wedge, if desired.
Feta-Avocado Dip | Dairy
Makes about 2 cups
Using a block of feta cheese as opposed to pre-cut or crumbled feta will produce the best results. Most blocks are 4 ounces, so chop them in half and save the rest for another use.
If you have any left over, which is unlikely, toss it over lettuce for a delicious salad.
1 ripe avocado, diced
2-ounce block of feta cut into small cubes
¾ cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
3 tablespoons chopped red onion
¼ cup chopped cilantro
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
¼ teaspoon salt
Suggested dippers include pita chips, corn chips, crackers, toast points, sliced cucumbers, large carrot coins or slabs of bell pepper.
Gently mix all the ingredients in a medium bowl, taking care not to smash the avocados. Let it sit for a few minutes or a few hours. Serve it with the dippers.
La Scala Salad | Can be made Pareve/Meat/Dairy
Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side
Unlike most dressed salads, this one keeps for a day or so in the fridge. Make it for dinner and enjoy it for lunch tomorrow.
These days, as veganism becomes increasingly prevalent, there are more and more plant-based grocery options for meats and cheeses — these can be used here with great results. However, if you are not sure about vegan versions of the cheeses or salami, simply choose which ingredient you prefer and skip the other. A note on the dressing: If you omit the Parmesan cheese, which is rather salty, be sure to taste the dressing — it may need additional salt for optimal flavor.
For the dressing:
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (or vegan Parmesan cheese)
For the salad:
1 head iceberg lettuce, chopped
4 slices kosher or vegan salami, cut into thin strips
½ cup shredded mozzarella or vegan cheese
1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Whisk the dressing ingredients in a large bowl. Add all the salad ingredients and toss well. Serve immediately, or chill for several hours.