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Hi, I'm Jaden, a professional recipe developer, food columnist and food photographer specializing in fast, fresh and easy recipes for the home cook. Most of my recipes are modern Asian! About meFast, fresh & easy recipes for the home cook.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Heirloom Tomato and Avocado Salad with Crispy Wontons and Spicy Cilantro Vinaigrette

I’m currently in a room with 3,500 other women (mostly) bloggers – at the BlogHer conference in San Diego. You can imagine all the tweeting, facebooking, blogging and hugging that’s going on here. If you’re internet access speed at home is a little slow, blame it on the swarm of bloggers here in San Diego sucking all of the internet power ;-)

So while I’m here at BlogHer, I have a lovely, lovely friend Viviane Bauquet Farre, author of Food and Style blog as my guest. I discovered Viviane’s blog a couple of years ago and had the pleasure to meet her in person in NYC during my book tour. I hope you enjoy her recipe! ~Jaden 



When I met Jaden at her book signing in New York City in 2009, it was love at first sight. While her bubbly personality shines through every word and every photograph on this blog, in person Jaden is truly like sunshine. So when it came to creating a recipe for this guest post, I wanted something as fun and colorful as she is.

This is how this salad came to be. It’s snappy-fresh, vibrant, super-flavorful, and has an Asian flair to boot. My hope is that it will look as beautiful as Jaden… and taste as scrumptious as her recipes.


When I think of colorful vegetables, heirloom tomatoes (though technically a fruit!) come instantly to mind. There are few things as delicious — or as stunning — as a vine-ripened heirloom tomato. Fortunately, heirlooms have become the jewel in the crown at farmers’ markets and gourmet stores all around the country, so they’re much easier to find today than ever. (Of course, if you happen to have a sunny spot in your backyard, these stunning fruits will be more than happy to grow there all summer long.)

In today’s salad, heirloom tomatoes and ripe avocados are served on a bed of baby arugula. The whole salad is drizzled with a spunky cilantro vinaigrette that’s almost like a cilantro pesto (the pine nuts give the dressing a lovely creaminess). Then the salad is garnished with crispy wonton strips that have been lightly sautéed in olive oil until they’re crunchy and golden-brown. Every bite is a delight, offering a marvelous array of flavors and textures.

For a casual meal, serve this salad in generous bowls and let everyone dig right in.

For a more elegant presentation, serve the salad on rectangular or square plates. Arrange a mound of the baby arugula in the center of each plate, in log-like fashion. Top with thin slices of avocado (see photograph), drizzle with a bit of the dressing and garnish with the heirloom tomato pieces and the crispy wontons. It makes an attractive salad course for a dinner party.

The summer season is in full swing and so is summer eating… May you enjoy every morsel!

Crispy Wontons Step-by-Step

Step 1: Cut the wontons in 1/4 inch strips

Step 2: Heat a large frying pan at medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and wonton strips.

Step 3: Toss well, then sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until they become golden-brown, continuing to toss occasionally.

Step 4: This is how the wontons look when they are done.

Step 5: Transfer wontons to a paper towel and sprinkle with the salt.

Arugula in morning light


I picked this baby arugula from my garden minutes before I photographed the salad. A small 4′ x 2′ raised  bed has been giving us a constant supply of baby arugula for the last two months now. I cut the leaves at the base of the stems and within a week the plants have grown new leaves.  Eating from the garden is a pure joy — and knowing that Jaden is going to adore her new “urban farm,” I can hardly wait to see what she grows — and cooks — with her bounty!


Heirloom Tomato and Avocado Salad with Crispy Wontons and Spicy Cilantro Vinaigrette

Servings: serves 4 Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 5 minutes
Salad in bowl white grd L-2


For the wontons:
2 tablespoons olive oil
12 square wonton noodles
sea salt to tasteFor the vinaigrette:
1 ounce cilantro leaves (1 cup, tightly packed)
1 tablespoon pine nuts
1 garlic clove – skinned
2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon maple syrup or organic sugar
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenneFor the salad:
2 ripe avocados – cut in 1” pieces
1 1/4 pounds mixed heirloom tomatoes – cut in 1” pieces
5 ounces baby arugula – rinsed and spun dry
freshly ground white pepper


1) Cut the wontons in 1/4” strips. Heat a large frying pan at medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and wonton strips. Toss well, then sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until they become golden-brown, continuing to toss occasionally. Transfer wontons to a paper towel and sprinkle with the salt.

2) To make the vinaigrette – Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Process until creamy, about 1 minute, scraping the sides of the bowl once. Transfer to a small bowl.

3) Divide the arugula into 4 salad bowls. Top with the avocado and tomato pieces. Drizzle with the vinaigrette. Garnish with the crispy wontons. Sprinkle with the pepper and serve immediately.

21 Responses to “Heirloom Tomato and Avocado Salad with Crispy Wontons and Spicy Cilantro Vinaigrette”

  1. Perfect summer salad with my favorite ingredients. Love that you added some nice dose of crunch with those wontons :)

    Jaden – enjoy and have fun at Blogher :)

  2. Bev Weidner — 8/5/11 @ 5:42 pm

    Gorgeous. Gorgeous. Gorgeous. I could jump off a diving board into that bowl.

  3. Karriann Graf — 8/5/11 @ 5:45 pm

    This salad is simple and looks fantastic! It’s a great time of year to make it with avocados and tomatoes in season.

  4. Gorgeous. That salad looks fantastic and seems to capture the flavors of summer on the plate.

  5. This looks amazing! Such a wonderful different salad, I love it!

  6. Jane Bassi — 8/5/11 @ 8:34 pm

    It looks delicious …. Now I’m totally craving tomato and avocado!

    Jaden, I love your blog!!

  7. Reem — 8/7/11 @ 3:34 am

    It looks Gorgeous!!!! I love bot of you girls……… You both are such an inspiration. Have fun at blogher. Hoping to be a part of it next year…

  8. Pam — 8/7/11 @ 1:03 pm

    This looks absolutely delicious. What a great combo of everything delicious that I love.

  9. Pingback: » Meal-Planning Monday: Avocados FabFitMommy.com

  10. Matthew — 8/8/11 @ 7:53 am

    I am fond of any kind of Salad; this is new one for me so i definitely try out this one.. make me inspire to make it right now..

  11. Lucy — 8/8/11 @ 11:12 am

    I love anything with avocados and tomatoes, so this is my kind of salad. Have printed and will be trying this soon. Thanks!

  12. Sara B. — 8/8/11 @ 11:37 am

    The dressing sounds super tasty. I love cilantro. I just wish pine nuts weren’t so dang expensive.

  13. Katrina — 8/8/11 @ 12:50 pm

    This is a super unique recipe! I love the wontons. Yum!

  14. David Shepherd — 8/9/11 @ 11:58 am

    Great looking salad!!! Can’t wait to try it! Just pulled off my first two Cherokee purple heirloom tomatoes the other day. Our growing is a little slow this year :-( But I have hope of a big harvest as I took a more systematic approach this time around including grabbing an e-book for reference. You can see my efforts here http://wp.me/p1rE6R-cI

  15. Kim in MD — 8/10/11 @ 9:57 am

    What a gorgeous salad! My daughter would love this, so I am off to my local produce stand so I can make this for dinner!

  16. Renuka — 8/11/11 @ 6:35 pm

    sounds super scrumptious….it has all the ingredients I love. I need to bookmark this and make it. Thanks for sharing this. I love the photos….

  17. Kim Bee — 8/13/11 @ 2:39 am

    Viviane this is an amazing guest post with a lovely recipe. I am glad I stopped by and found a new blog to read. Just signed up at yours and am so impressed with your site and your pictures. Look forward to getting to know you.

    Jaden- I am so jealous over BlogHer. I must go next time. Of course me meeting foodies I follow would be like tweens meeting Bieber. So prepare yourself for it now. Lol!

  18. Donna Ford — 9/19/11 @ 12:04 am

    Viviane, everything is perfect!

  19. El — 9/24/11 @ 9:45 pm

    Love the avocado shot. The post is fantastic. This is definitely a recipe I will be bookmarking for future use.

  20. Pingback: Heirloom Tomatoes | Glenns Garden

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