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Salads Archives - alex thomopoulos

Grilled Shrimp and Veggie Salad with Avocado Green Goddess Dressing

Who doesn’t love a big ol’ salad for lunch or dinner? I am a big fan of different salad dressings and am always finding inspiration for new ones everyday. I did an event a few months back with a dear friend of mine Aida Mollenkamp of Salt & Wind. She created this amazing avocado green goddess dressing to go with a beautiful crudite plate.

IMG_0733I took the base of this dressing and added a few more elements to make it mine. This dressing is vibrant, herby, and brightens up any plain old salad. To give it a bit more “umami” flavor I added some anchovy to my recipe. NOW WAIT I know what you are thinkin, don’t run away. You want to know why something like Ceasar salad is so delicious? Anchovies! It gives this dressing a real backbone, and a unique complex flavor profile to a salad dressing. BUT if I can’t convince you do get on board, you can totally leave them out and this dressing will be just as delicious!

This recipe calls for watermelon radish, if you have never heard of them before they taste just like a regular radish but they are BEYOND gorgeous to look at. If you can’t find watermelon radish, regular is great too!

This avocado green goddess dressing is totally gluten free, dairy free, nut free paleo, and whole 30 friendly. You can also make it vegan by omitting the anchovies.  Get creative with your next salad. This is just one combination that will hopefully inspire you to create one that satisfies all your cravings!

shrimp salad

Grilled Shrimp and Veggie Salad with Avocado Green Goddess Dressing

(serves 4)
  • Avocado Green Goddess Dressing:
  • 1 ripe avocado, pitted and diced
  • 1 medium garlic clove
  • 2 anchovy filets
  • 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon leaves
  • ¼ cup flat Italian parsley
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro
  • 1/4 cup champagne vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • *If the dressing is too thick, add 2 tablespoons of water, one at a time**

    For the Salad:

  • 6-8 cups of greens
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 English cucumber, diced
  • 1 bulb fennel, thinly sliced
  • 1 small watermelon radish, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup watercress
  • 20 medium sized shrimp, peeled and deveined

  1. For the dressing combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth, set aside.
  2. Preheat a grill pan or saute pan over medium high heat. Brush the shrimps with a bit of olive oil and spinkle with salt and pepper. Grill on high heat for 2-3 minutes, or until the tails have started to curl in. You want to pull them off the heat and place on a plate right after they curl up and let them rest for a minute so they can finish cooking through but won’t over cook.
  3. You can assemble this salad in a big bowl and serve it buffet style or plate each salad individually. Follow the picture above for plating inspiration. Top with liberal amounts of this yummy dressing!

Dinner Party for under $30 and A Night of 1000 Dinners

“140 million children have lost one or both parents. For every three months spent in an orphanage, a child loses one month of developmental skills. Worldwide Orphans brings play, education, health and psychosocial development to orphans and vulnerable children through our programs focused on attachment, early intervention, healthcare and the arts. We work closely with communities to build capacity and raise awareness of the critical importance of play to help address the effects of trauma in children.”

– Worldwide Orphans

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Recently, I have been fortunate enough to get involved with an incredible charity called Worldwide Orphans and this week I am participating in their “Night of 1000 dinners” to help raise awareness and funds for orphans and at risk children. Worldwide Orphans is an incredible organization that was introduced to me by my friend Connie Britton, who’s giant heart for others and dedication to making the world a better place inspires me everyday. When she mentioned the idea of Night of a 1000 dinners, I jumped at the opportunity.

The idea is simple. Throw a party, start the conversation, and raise awareness. I believe nothing brings people together like breaking bread at a table, and it’s even better when it’s for a good cause. Food is the powerful language of the world and can be used to gather people in a way that allows us all to feel a part of a community and more importantly, loved. It’s important to share that love with others and that’s why the Night of a 1000 dinners is so important to me.

Too often we take for granted the love that we receive everyday, especially the love that we get from a parent. I can’t imagine going through life not knowing the sweet loving touch of my mother’s hand when I was sad, or my dad’s giant bear hugs whenever I won a basketball game. These kids don’t have that. I believe it’s everyone’s right to know that they are loved by someone, anyone, and why can’t that someone be us? We live in a time where it’s easy to get lost in our own worlds, we are too busy for our own good, and we often don’t make the time for others. This event is a great reminder to all of us that it doesn’t take much to make a huge difference in someone’s life.

Ethiopia (2)

When I sent out my invites I had asked everyone to bring a small donation, an open heart and an empty stomach. Being on a tight budget myself I wanted to create a menu that was delicious, impressive but didn’t cost an arm and a leg. I also wanted to have enough left over to be able to donate some money to the charity as well. Below are two great, inexpensive, healthy, fresh, and delicious recipes that will wow your guests. These recipes are enough to serve 6-8 people for under $30, which is pretty darn good if you ask me! Some of the ingredients you might have in your pantry already, so you can be super resourceful:)
For my menu I decided to serve a Shaved Fennel, Caramelized Corn, and Summer Peach Salad and Shell Pasta with Broccoli Raab and Spicy Chicken Sausage.

peach salad
pasta broccoli raab

Both of these dishes can feed a crowd and hold really well, so if guests come and go you don’t have to worry about being in the kitchen the whole time.

If you can’t throw a party on Saturday, that’s totally okay! People are throwing their own Night of 1000 dinners all month long.

If you have any questions on how to throw your own party and for more information about Worldwide Orphans CLICK HERE. I encourage you to check it out. I promise the reward will be greater than you know!

Recipe

(serves 6)
  • 2 large bulbs fennel, shaved or sliced thin
  • 2 large ripe peaches, sliced thin
  • 1 1/2 cups arugula
  • 4 ears of corn
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 lemons, juiced and zested
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shaved
  • kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
  1. Heat a medium skillet on high heat. Cut kernels from corn cob. Add 2 tablespoons oil into the skillet and toss in corn kernels. Cook on high heat for about 3-4 minutes allowing the corn to get some color. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and fresh cracked pepper. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  2. In a large bowl add the shaved fennel, sliced peached, arugula, shaved parmesan, the cooled corn, olive oil, lemon, 1 teaspoon of lemon zest a good pinch of salt and lots of cracked pepper. Toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Gluten Free Shell Pasta with Broccoli Raab and Spicy Chicken Sausage

(serves 6)
  • 1 pound gluten free pasta shells (I used Tinkyada’s) you can also use regular orchiette pasta or shells
  • 1 1/2 pounds spicy chicken sausage, casing removed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for garnish
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 bunch broccoli raab, rinsed and chopped
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper chili flakes
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a good amount of salt so the water tastes like the ocean. Cook pasta 2 minutes under what the package says for the cook time. Drain, but make sure to reserve 1 cup of the pasta water. If you are using a gluten free brown rice pasta, make sure to rinse the pasta well under cold water to remove all the starch. This will prevent the pasta from getting gummy. While the pasta is cooking:
  2. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add 2 cloves of garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, just until the edges start to slightly brown. Remove the garlic and discard. Add sausage into the skillet and using a wooden spoon break up the meat and cook for 8 minutes, or until the meat is brown and crispy.
  3. Add in the broccoli raab, and red chili flakes and cook for another 2 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the 1 cup of pasta water, scraping up all the brown bits off the bottom of pan. Add pasta into the skillet and toss to coat. Add in 1 cup of parmesan, the juice and zest of a lemon and mix until creamy.
  4. To serve, place pasta in a large bowl and top with a few good glugs of olive oil, more cheese, cracked black pepper, and red chili flakes.


Vietnamese Steak Salad

WE ARE HAVING A BABY SHOWER!!!! WELL…a virtual one. Which in my opinion is way better, no baby games,no crying over tiny socks. Just good food and good friends, gathering to share the love they have for their friend and her journey into motherhood. Good friends and good food are two of the things I […]