Put away the bottles of salad dressings, roll up your sleeves, and get ready to be creative! You’re about to experiment with salad, one of the easiest, most versatile dishes you can make, regardless of your culinary skills! Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Salad = greens, right? True, lettuces and other leafy greens are the traditional base of many salads, but sometimes, it’s nice to inject bright, sunny notes into the salad-making routine. When it’s gray outside, bring Spain into your kitchen with this salad: Start with blood or navel oranges, which you should peel and slice into thin rounds. Arrange the orange slices on a plate and top with thinly-sliced red onions, avocado slices, a scattering of pistachio nuts or almond slivers, and re-hydrated raisins (a handful of raisins plumped up in a 10-minute hot water bath — leave the water behind once the raisins are hydrated). Finish it off with salt, pepper, chopped parsley, Sherry vinegar, and a good, Spanish olive oil. Not feeling the oranges? Try grapefruit and add mint for another fresh and fabulous combination. If you’re so inclined, go ahead and add a grilled protein like duck or turkey to your salad.
We know, avocado and crab or avocado and shrimp are a marriage made in food heaven. You can hollow out half an avocado and save the peel to present your “boat” of seafood-laden goodness. We like to start with gently steamed Argentinean shrimp (they taste like lobster!) if you can find them, or spot prawns. Toss with some lime juice and zest, Greek yogurt, mashed avocado, finely diced celery and shallots, freshly grated pepper, a pinch of cayenne pepper and minced parsley. Fill your “boat” back up, top with some fine slivers of avocado and a chiffonade (thin strips) of tarragon, and serve immediately.
If you prefer diced, steamed lobster tails, crab meat, cooked scallops, or even grilled calamari, go for it! Switch out the parsley for your favorite fresh herb (basil, tarragon, or chives are all delicious choices), and add a dollop of light sour cream.
Want to skip the dairy? No problem! Take a cue from Toronto’s The Carbon Bar and make a citrusy, fresh wild shrimp ceviche (sushi-grade, citrus-marinated, raw, diced fish), with Serrano peppers, tomatillos, diced avocado, a tomato-based salsa, and coriander. It’s a big hit!
Looking for a meaty salad that’s vegan? Here’s the ticket: Take a big bunch of de-stemmed kale that’s been chopped and sprinkled with a little sea salt. Massage the kale for a few minutes until soft, and place the leaves in a salad bowl. Toss in one carrot (cut into matchsticks) , a diced cucumber, red onion, and red pepper. Make a dressing of avocado (about half of one), lemon juice, and olive oil: stir to combine well or give it a quick blitz in your blender. Tahini can be added for a richer, deeper flavor. Add freshly cracked black pepper to your dressing, pour it over the salad, and toss to combine. Want more? Add cooked chickpeas, white beans, or lentils before tossing and serving. And you can cube the rest of your avocado and toss that in too, while you’re at it! Who needs steak?
Looking for more inspiration? Check out this selection of avocado-based salads!