Food & Entertaining - Garden to Table

Simple avocado and herb salad

By
Susan Middleton
Photography by
Ben Fink

Snip fresh herbs from your garden to season this light salad


Sometimes I get a craving for avocado, so I slice one up and season it with salt, pepper, a squirt of lemon juice, and a little extra-virgin olive oil. I stand at the kitchen counter and savor every bite. It’s then that I’m reminded that an avocado isn’t just a salad or dip ingredient—it’s wonderful in its own right. And it’s the perfect thing for a simple but delicious side dish for a summer dinner. So I offer this basic recipe—with a few flavor choices—for dressing and serving an avocado as a reminder not to forget about these amazingly nutritious, colorful,and satisfying fruits. (Yes, technically, it’s a fruit.) You can vary the flavors of the dressing as you like by choosing either lime or lemon juice, mint or cilantro, scallions or ginger.

For a side dish, I think half of an avocado is a good-size portion, so the amounts I’ve suggested below are enough to dress one half. Obviously you can double or triple this recipe, or whatever you like, to serve bigger portions or more people. I like to slice the avocado and fan the slices, but if your avocado is a bit overripe, cutting it into large dice will be easier. Either way, if you arrange the avocado with a bit of Bibb lettuce or mâche, you can disguise messy cutting and make the presentation a little fancier at the same time.

Avocado’s a natural with shrimp (seared, grilled, or even poached), but I bet you’d love one of these with a grilled chicken breast and some sliced ripe beefsteak tomatoes on a summer night.

Ingredients
  • 1½ tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp fresh lemon or lime juice
  • ½ tsp coarsely chopped fresh parsley, mint, or cilantro
  • ½ tsp minced scallion (white and light green parts; optional)
  • ¼ tsp grated fresh ginger (optional)
  • ½ tsp fresh orange juice (optional)
  • ½ avocado, halved lengthwise and pitted, but not peeled (see tip)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small inner leaf Bibb lettuce, or a few leaves of mâche

Preparation
Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, and herbs. If desired, add either the scallions or the ginger and whisk again. (Add the orange juice, if desired, just before serving.)

To serve the avocado sliced:
Use a sharp chef’s knife to slice through the avocado half crosswise at 1/4-in/6.5-mm intervals, cutting through the skin almost completely.

Turn the avocado half over on the cutting board and peel away the skin. Slide a knife under the avocado and transfer it to a very small plate (or the side of a dinner plate).

Fan the slices out as neatly as possible. Season the avocado with a generous pinch or two of salt and a little bit of pepper. Arrange a few leaves of Bibb lettuce over or to one side of the avocado. Drizzle all of the dressing over the avocado and lettuce and serve.

To serve the avocado diced: Use a sharp chef’s knife to slice through the avocado half crosswise at 3/4-in/2-cm intervals and then lengthwise in thirds to create large dice.

Remove the dice from the skin and transfer them to a small bowl. Add the dressing and toss well. Put the Bibb lettuce in small bowls and arrange the diced avocado in it and serve.

Tip: For easier cutting—and peeling—trim a sliver off each end of the avocado before cutting it in half lengthwise all the way around.


avocado-salad-book-cover.jpgExcerpted from Fast, Fresh, and Green by Susan Middleton Copyright © 2010 by Susan Middleton. Excerpted by permission of Chronicle Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

 

 

 

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