The Garlic and Avocado Sauce can become the base of a dressing for seasonal salads. (Photo/Faith Kramer)

Put away those comfort foods and go green for spring with garlic-avocado sauce

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Spring arrived March 19 on the secular calendar. But on the Hebrew calendar, it arrives the evening of April 8, with the start of the month of Nissan. To put a spring in your step, you can whip up this bright Garlic and Avocado Sauce and these not-overly-sweet Honey and Almond Bars.

The green sauce, which can be used as the base for a salad dressing, is the color of spring and of renewal. And almonds are associated in Jewish tradition with joy, which seems appropriate for welcoming Nissan, the first month of the lunisolar calendar and one of four Jewish New Years. (The others are the first of Elul, Rosh Hashanah and Tu Bishvat).

The first weeks of Nissan are traditionally spent preparing for Passover, which begins the evening of April 22. The recipes below are also appropriate for the holiday if made with Pesach-certified ingredients as needed.

Garlic and Avocado Sauce

Makes about 1½ cups sauce

  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus as needed
  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice, plus as needed
  • 2-4 Tbs. peeled garlic cloves
  • ¼ tsp. salt, plus as needed
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper, plus as needed
  • 3 Tbs. chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 Tbs. chopped mint
  • 3 Tbs. chopped basil
  • ¼ cup chopped green onion (use white and green parts)
  • 1 cup mashed, very ripe avocado

Place oil, juice, garlic (use 2 Tbs. for a garlic bite, 4 Tbs. for a wallop), salt, pepper, parsley, mint, basil and onion into blender. Process on high until smooth, stopping and scraping down sides as needed. Add avocado in batches and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning by adding oil, juice, salt or pepper as needed.

Serve as a dip with artichokes or crudites or as a sauce over cooked fish, chicken, vegetables, rice or grains. Can be made a day ahead. (Flavors will intensify.) Refrigerate in airtight container. Stir and taste again, adjusting seasonings before using.

Garlic and Avocado Salad Dressing

Makes about 2¼ cups

  • Garlic and Avocado Sauce (see recipe)
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus as needed
  • ½ cup plus 1 Tbs. lemon juice, plus as needed
  • ⅛ tsp. sugar (optional)
  • ¼ tsp. salt, plus as needed
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper, plus as needed

Mix sauce, olive oil, and lemon juice together in jar or bowl. Taste. Add sugar and additional oil, juice, salt and pepper. Can be made 1 day in advance. (Flavors will intensify). Refrigerate in airtight container. Stir and taste again, adjusting seasonings before using.

Honey and almond bar topped with chocolate and dried cherries.
These Honey and Almond Bars, which are dairy free and gluten free, are also good for Passover. (Photo/Faith Kramer)

Honey and Almond Bars

Serves 8

  • ¼ cup plus 1 tsp. vegetable oil, plus additional for pan
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup honey
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • ½ cup plus 2 Tbs. dried, pitted cherries, raisins or chopped, pitted dates
  • 1 cup semi-sweet dairy-free chocolate chips, divided

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 8×8-inch baking pan with parchment paper or foil leaving 2-inch overhang on sides to help release bars after baking. Lightly oil the lined bottom.

In large bowl, mix together almond flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in ¼ cup oil, eggs, honey and vanilla. Mix in coconut, ½ cup fruit and ½ cup chocolate chips. Spoon into prepared pan.

Bake 25-30 minutes until browned, firm to touch, and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes, then use overhang to lift from pan. Cool completely on wire rack. Cut into 8 bars or 16 squares. Melt ½ cup chocolate chips with 1 tsp. oil in microwave or in small pot on low heat. Stir often. Dip fork tines into melted chocolate. Drizzle over cookies. Immediately press remaining dried fruit on top.

Faith Kramer
Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer and the author of “52 Shabbats: Friday Night Dinners Inspired by a Global Jewish Kitchen.” Her website is Contact her at [email protected].