This recipe comes from Paul Gayler’s book “Pure Vegetarian,”with minor alterations. My mother gave me the book a couple of years ago but in my old kitchen these recipes always seemed too daunting because I had no prep space. Now that we have a little more room, they’re suddenly completely feasible as dinner options.
That is, when people actually show up to eat. We invited 3 people to dinner. One person came on time, one came 1 1/2 late and the third never showed up at all. What is it about New Yorkers, I ask you?
I do love my friends though, and we had a great time!
I served this appetizer at room temperature. It’s a little tart, with a hint of sweetness from the basil, balanced by the creaminess of the avocado cheese. Gayler calls it “vegetables a la greque”, and it definitely has a mediterranean flavor that goes really well with a crisp glass of white wine.

Avocado Cheese

1/2 avocado
1/4 lb feta cheese
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and fresh black pepper

Blend the avocado and feta in the food processor. Add the lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Herb Scented Vegetables

4 tblsp. white wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, crushed
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp. coriander seeds, crushed
sprig of fresh thyme
8 tblsp. olive oil
8 or so baby zucchini, halved lengthwise
one bunch green asparagus, trimmed and cut into pieces
4 tsp. fresh, flat-leaf parsley
2 tblsp. fresh basil leaves
3 tblsp. fresh celery leaves (I left these out and it was still delicious)
salt and fresh black pepper

In a pan, heat 3/4 cup water with the vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, coriander and thyme. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes. Add half the oil. Add asparagus and zucchini. Cook until just tender, but retaining some crunch. Remove veggies from cooking liquid and set aside.
In a food processor, blend the celery, basil and parsley with enough cooking liquid to form a light puree. Add the remaining olive oil, blend again and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Arrange the veggies on plates. Pour over a little of the sauce. Top with avocado cheese and garnish with thyme leaves from the cooking liquid.

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