Napa Kale Salad with Creamy Avocado Sesame Dressing


Napa Kale Salad with Creamy Avocado Sesame Dressing
1 pint grape tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon sea salt

For the Dressing:
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 ripe avocado, seeded and peeled
1 freshly squeezed lime
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ cup cilantro leaves

½ cup pine nuts

3 cups shredded Napa cabbage
3 cup finely chopped kale, stems removed

Preheat oven to 400◦. Use baking pan with parchment paper and drizzle tomatoes with olive oil and season with sea salt. Roast in oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

Mince peeled garlic in food processor before blending in avocado, lime juice, Greek yogurt, toasted sesame oil, cayenne pepper and sea salt and process until smooth and creamy.

In dry skillet, toast raw pine nuts for 3-4 minutes on medium heat until fragrant and light toasted.

Toss Napa cabbage and kale in large bowl. Pour avocado dressing on greens and toss again. Add toasted pine nuts and oven roasted tomatoes to serve.

Tip: Add pulled rotisserie chicken for added protein.



Another beautiful evening at the Atlanta Botanical Garden for “Cocktails in the Garden!” There are just a few more Thursday evenings left for this event until the end of the season.  Take advantage of this glorious southern autumn weather before it turns into pumpkins!

I was recently inspired to create a recipe that was a healthier version of what is regionally called a “Meat and Three,” as I was dining in a remote area of Tennessee and found my lunchtime choices to be a bit limiting. I was offered a choice of Italian cuisine or a ‘Meat and Three.’ As a native northerner, I was struck by the fact that I had not yet been exposed to this term, even with a good many years of living in the South. Much to my colleague’s surprise and my apparent lack of Southern culture, I chose the road less traveled for my own culinary curiosity. While I loved the idea of a Meat and Three, a choice of a meat and three sides, typically accompanied by sweet tea and cornbread, I didn’t find that my options were quite within the optimal guidelines of a “healthier” lifestyle so I did my best and managed a meal, including cornbread and “unsweet” tea. With this culinary adventure in the hills of Tennessee, there it emerged; a greener version of a Meat and Three for the kale-lovin’ crowd. This Napa Kale Salad paired with some delectable rotisserie chicken makes a fine combination for a delicious lunch or dinner AND contains a meat with 3 glorious vegetables that deliver a powerhouse of Superfood magic.  This may be just the ticket for a nutritionally upgraded alternative than to what comes out of a little ol’ can of green beans. Cheers, with a glass of iced green tea, of course. MMM

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Eggplant Napoleon with Herbed Ricotta Cheese


Eggplant Napoleon with Herbed Ricotta Cheese
1 large eggplant
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
¼ tsp sea salt
Fresh cracked black pepper

For Herbed Ricotta:
2 cups ricotta cheese
2 cloves crushed garlic
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons of fresh rosemary
1 small lemon, juiced
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Fresh cracked pepper to taste

2 fresh ripe tomatoes, sliced thin
8 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade cut

Cut eggplant into ½-inch thick slices. In small bowl, whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Brush both sides of the eggplant with mixture. Arrange eggplant slices on a grill or use a cast iron grill pan on medium high heat. Grill eggplant slices on each side for about 5 minutes.

Stir together ricotta, garlic, thyme, rosemary, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.

Place a grilled eggplant slice on a small plate. Top with a tablespoon of ricotta cheese, then a slice of tomato and a pinch of basil. Top with another eggplant slice and continue with cheese mixture, tomato and basil for 3 layers. Drizzle layers with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and finish with sea salt and pepper to taste.


This quick and easy recipe is sure to please your guests or even just impress yourself! It makes a nice appetizer for your Italiano fare and your Italiano friends and it really is a calorie saver for when you want that Eggplant Parmesan without all the extra fullness it can bring.  Enjoy the fruits of summer while they are fresh and delicious.  Buon Appetito!

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Black Japonica Rice Salad


Black Japonica Rice Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
1 cup black japonica rice
2 cups water
1 fresh squeezed lemon
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup shelled edamame
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
3 chopped scallions
1/2 cup crumbled feta or goat cheese
Fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Place rinsed rice in a large saucepan and cover with 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer 40 minutes. Remove from heat and let steam for 10 minutes

In separate bowl, combine white balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, rosemary, thyme and sea salt in a medium bowl and whisk until blended. Slowly whisk in olive oil to blend.

In large bowl, drizzle vinaigrette over cooked rice and gently toss. Add in edamame, tomatoes, scallions and crumbled cheese. Season with fresh cracked black pepper to taste.




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Garden Summer Ceviche

Garden Summer Cevice

Garden Summer Ceviche
1 pound fresh firm saltwater fish, cut into ½- inch cubes or thinly sliced
Juice of 6 limes
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of ½ orange
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ red onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves minced garlic
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup sliced grape tomatoes
¼ cup chopped cilantro
1 diced avocado
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Place fresh cut fish in non-reactive mixing bowl. Add fresh pressed juices and season with sea salt. Add sliced onions, garlic and jalapeno, cover and let marinate for 15- 30 minutes in refrigerator. After “cooking” fish in citrus mixture, drain excess liquid. Add extra virgin olive oil, tomatoes, cilantro and avocado. Gently mix and season with sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste. Serve in martini glass on top of fresh butter lettuce.


It was a dark and stormy night…last week. This week at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, it was a Georgia-style hot and muggy night and a perfect evening to make ceviche to accompany “Cocktails in the Garden.”  We had an opportunity to “cook” the fresh halibut and fresh snapper in citrus juice and add our favorite extras with fresh tomatoes, avocados and cilantro to finish our South American style ceviche dish. It was a cool and delicious dish and not one ounce of heat was used, except for the jalapeno that made it just the right spiciness, of course. Enjoy the fruits of summer without firing up the stove on a hot summer night. Cheers, M

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Spring Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Spring Rolls

Spring Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce
1 cup shredded Napa cabbage
1 cup shredded purple cabbage
1 cup shredded carrots
3 finely sliced green onions
1 thinly sliced red pepper
1 thinly sliced cucumber
1 bunch cilantro sprigs
8-inch round rice papers
Dash of sea salt and fresh cracked pepper

When vegetables are prepped, place rice paper in warm water bath for 5 seconds. Remove from water and lay rice paper on flat surface. Arrange shredded cabbages and carrots across center of rice paper. Layer slices of red pepper, sliced cucumber, green onions and cilantro sprigs lengthwise on cabbage. Add dash of sea salt and pepper. Tightly wrap up spring roll with rice paper and slice into smaller sections if desired. Serve with Spicy Peanut Sauce.

Spicy Peanut Sauce
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons pecan oil
2 tablespoons creamy natural peanut butter
1 tablespoon chili sauce
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Combine all ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth. Stir in chopped cilantro and serve with spring rolls.


These spring rolls were at hit at “Cocktails in the Garden” at the Atlanta Botanical Garden this week! They are full of wonderful fresh produce and the spicy peanut sauce is just dreamy. It’s all about the sauce here. There are many ways to make peanut sauce but this has a little more Georgia in it with local Pecan Oil from Oliver Farm  Delicious! The peanut sauce hits on all marks with sweet, salt and spice and it is smooth and creamy so it makes you want to keep licking the bowl. You can pour the peanut sauce on top or dip your spring rolls in it. You can even use it as a little salad dressing on all your shredded vegetables if you run out of rice paper! Spring rolls work well as a fresh appetizer or can be made into a meal if you add a little cold shrimp or a little shredded chicken. Cheers, M

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