Caprese Salad with Basil Vinaigrette & Avocado

Caprese Salad with Basil Vinaigrette & AvocadoWhile driving back from Omaha, we stopped on our way through Des Moines for an early dinner at P.F. Chang’s. I can’t think of any other chain restaurants that we visit, because chains tend to have very lackluster vegan options.  However, we usually stop by P.F. Chang’s a couple of times a year.  It can be a very handy choice when dining with a variety of eaters, especially with people who are hesitant to dine at an exclusively vegan restaurant.

The previous time that I had visited they had a terrific kale salad on special. I was hoping they’d have it again, but it was no longer offered. However, in its place on the specials menu was an heirloom tomato salad.

P.F. Chang's heirloom tomato saladThe salad (shown in the mustard-colored bowl) was made with fresh tomatoes, avocado, Thai basil, and a ponzu dressing. I asked my server to verify with the chef that the salad was vegan.  While we waited for the answer, David did a quick search on his phone to find out more about ponzu sauce and saw that it’s a citrus seasoned soy sauce.  The server came back and said that the dish was vegan, and on the P.F. Chang’s website, they list the dish as vegetarian.

(In preparation for writing this post, I did a bit more searching and saw that some bottled ponzu sauces, like the Kikkoman brand, have fish extract in them.  However, I called P.F. Changs headquarters, and they confirmed that the dish was vegetarian and fish-free.)

The ponzu dressing had a pesto flavor because of the fresh basil, and the salad reminded me of a caprese salad but with avocado instead of mozzarella.

Tomato Salad with Avocado & Basil Vinaigrette With tomatoes being extraordinarily delicious and flavorful right now, I couldn’t wait to recreate it when I got home. I sliced up a couple of juicy tomatoes and added ripe cubed avocado.  Instead of making a ponzu sauce, I opted for a balsamic vinaigrette with fresh basil. I topped the salad with more fresh basil and served it with crusty bread, extra virgin olive oil, and dukka for dipping.

It was such a satisfying summer meal, like eating a bowlful of bruschetta. If you’ve been looking for more ways to enjoy your fresh-off-the-vine summer tomatoes, look no further.

Tomato Salad with Avocados & Basil Vinaigrette

Caprese Salad with Basil Vinaigrette & Avocado

Serving Size: 2


  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 small clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped basil + a few leaves extra for garnish
  • 2 medium to large tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • Pinch of salt


  1. To make the dressing: in a blender, blend extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and 2 Tablespoons chopped basil until completely combined.
  2. In a bowl, toss tomatoes and avocado. Drizzle with desired amount of dressing. Top with a pinch of salt and garnish with a few leaves of basil (chopped or whole).


You will have leftover dressing, since this makes enough for at least two salads. Put any extra dressing in a covered container in the refrigerator and use within a couple of days for maximum freshness.

This recipe was submitted to Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck #7.

Meet Avon (Warning: Kitten Overload)

Meet AvonIn non-food news, we added to our family! Yes, I know I told you in my pickles & ice cream post that I wasn’t pregnant. And that’s true. We adopted this red haired guy – Avon!

We weren’t looking to add another cat to our brood; however, fate had other plans. My parents were out on a long drive in the country along a busy road when my mom thought she saw a little kitten out of the corner of her eye. They drove back and parked the car. As my dad walked toward the kitten, the little kitty ran away, and my dad was afraid he wouldn’t be able to reach her. As he was walking back towards the car he heard one little meow and then a second. He turned around and there were two little kittens instead of one – a pale taupe kitten and an orange one. My dad noticed that there was a box a few feet away, where a person had apparently dumped the kittens without food, water, a sign, or anything. Next to a busy road and with the closest house at least a half a mile away, the cats surely wouldn’t have lasted long.

Meet little AvonAt that point the kittens appeared to be just a few weeks old, and they were both starving. My parents brought them home, and the kittens ate and ate. Separated from their mother too soon, they pawed at their food while they ate as if they were nursing. My parents watched over the kittens and nursed them back to health.

Throughout the time that my parents had them, I received regular updates and pictures of the kittens. Immediately David and I noticed how much the little redhead reminded us of our cat, Spike. He was talkative, liked to sleep in a Superman-style pose, and was often pushed around by his sister.

Sweet little AvonThe sister got adopted, and then there was one. David and I were won over by that little kitten face and knew he needed to be a member of our home. We named him Purr Avon (Avon for short) after the British sci-fi character from Blakes 7, Kerr Avon. The day before my birthday, my parents drove little Avon to his new home to live with us.

Cadry & Avon

Sleepy AvonSleepy Avon in lapAvon is terrifically sweet. I have never met a kitten who loves licking your face and chin so much. He actually tries to hold your face with both paws, so that he can get a good grip while he grooms. He is a purring machine, and as soon as you touch him, he’s purring with abandon. My laughing quotient for the day has at least tripled since his arrival. He has that kitten-style awkwardness that keeps him from having any catlike grace for which felines are known. As a callback to his time in a box without food, he eats anything that he can find, and he eats until the bowl is empty.

Avon drinking waterIn addition to licking, he also likes to bite a little on your fingers. I’m trying to break him of the habit, because while it doesn’t hurt in the slightest right now, I like having adult cats who never bite. I’ve been looking up advice on the internet and trying different things, but if you have any tricks that worked for you, please share!

Spike and AvonWe’ve been slowly introducing him to our cats, Spike and Jezebel, who are admittedly much less excited about the new arrival than we are. Considering they’ve spent fourteen years as a household of two cats, I can understand their trepidation and territorial feelings. Outside of an occasional lapse of pouncing, Avon is doing a pretty good job of being slow with them and heeding their hissing when the time comes.

CU sleepy AvonAvon takes a snoozeTo see more pictures of Avon (and Spike and Jezebel too, of course), check out my feed on Instagram, where I don’t fight my urges to post adorable kittens doing adorable kitten-type things.