Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Bleu-Green Salad

O happy day! At long last, I have learned to love avocado.

I hated it for years. Hated the texture mostly, but the flavor didn't much do it for me either. I could tolerate avocados once I moved to the west coast, where they are fresh and abundant, but I still didn't really care for them. I don't even like guacamole.

They're so good for you though. And recently I've been deliberately trying to cultivate a taste for avocado. It's pretty good smashed up and spread on a vegetable sandwich with hummus, and it's good tossed into a salad with a lot of other textures. Finally I discovered that the secret to a delicious avocado: citrus and vinegar. Together. Something about that acid really brings a nice rich flavor out of all that creamy green.

So for lunch today, I made the greenest salad ever, and based it on avocado. I started with this recipe and just ran with it, using up the farmers' market goodness that I had on hand, enjoying the first local asparagus of the season. This salad was perfect. Next time someone asks me what spring in Oregon tastes like, I will serve him this salad. I'm just sorry that Keith missed out on it, because he would've absolutely loved it. I'll have to make it for him next week when I get down to L.A.

(And what a nutritional punch in this salad! Look at all that iron, those good healthy fats, a little protein, plenty of fiber... just perfect!)


1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and halved
2 avocados, peeled and cubed
Fresh, quality lettuce
Fresh baby spinach
Fresh sorrel
* Rogue Creamery Smokey Bleu Cheese
Sunflower seeds
Fresh mint

** 1 wedge salted Meyer lemon, minced, plus 1 Tbsp juice
1 small clove minced raw garlic
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
1/2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 small dollop honey
Fresh parsley, chopped
Pepper to taste

* Okay, you can use any bleu cheese here. But I really, really recommend the smoked bleu cheese for this if you can get it. It does the loveliest things with all the sweet crisp greens and creamy avocado... just incredible.

** Use the zest and juice of a lemon plus some salt if you haven't made salted Meyer lemons. But you should try those salted lemons sometime. They go with everything; I'm constantly finding new things to put them in, and that salted lemon juice is the best thing that ever happened to salad dressing.

So anyway, bring a pot of water to boil, then blanch the asparagus for a minute or two until it turns brilliant green. Meanwhile, whisk up the dressing ingredients with a fork and set aside. Drain the blanched asparagus in a colander and rinse under cold water until it's cool to the touch. Throw the asparagus and avocado together in a big bowl, pour the dressing over it, and mix it up.

Arrange the lettuce, spinach, and sorrel on a plate and dump half the avocado-asparagus mix on top. (Make two plates of greens to serve two people, or save the other half of the a-a mix for later.) Sprinkle with the bleu cheese, sunflower seeds, and mint. Try not to stuff it all in your face at once - it is that good!

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