Crunchy Summer Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing

Crunchy Summer Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing

Remember back when dousing some iceberg lettuce with ranch dressing was considered healthy? We know better now, but a lackluster vinaigrette makes us want to skip the salad altogether. Without the buttermilk and mayo, is it even worth it? This dressing, made with creamy avocado and tangy umeboshi vinegar, will show you the possibilities. You can make it as-is or substitute whatever herbs you have on hand: parsley, basil and cilantro are all great options. The salad itself is a colorful, texture-rich antidote to the stereotypical boring salad, and it’s also customizable. Here we use a base of romaine because it’s crunchy and sturdy enough to stand up to a creamy dressing, but you can use kale, mixed greens or any blend of greens your heart (and fridge) desires. Same for the add-ins: You can sub in green beans for the asparagus, use black beans instead of chickpeas, or mix in additional veggies you have available like cucumber or shredded carrots. If you want to get extra fancy with it, try grilling the corn for an added smoky flavor. While this salad can be eaten as a side, it’s strong enough to star as the entree.

1 small avocado
2 tablespoons umeboshi vinegar (see Tip)
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon snipped fresh chives
1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
½ cup water, plus more as needed
½ pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed
3 cups shredded red cabbage
½ pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 ½ cups fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)
5 radishes, thinly sliced
2 romaine hearts, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 avocado, chopped

DirectionsInstructions Checklist
Step 1
To prepare dressing: Halve and pit avocado. Scoop the avocado flesh into a blender. Add vinegar, lemon juice, oil, dill, chives, syrup, garlic powder, pepper and water. Puree until smooth, adding 1 to 2 tablespoons more water if it seems too thick. (Makes about 1 cup.)

Step 2
To prepare salad: Bring a large skillet of water to a simmer. Add asparagus and cook until barely done, 1 to 3 minutes, depending on the thickness of the spears. Drain and transfer to a bowl of ice water. When the asparagus is cool, remove from the ice water and dry thoroughly. Set aside.

Step 3
Toss chickpeas, cabbage, tomatoes, corn, radishes, lettuce and the blanched asparagus together in a large bowl. Pour 3/4 cup dressing over the vegetables; toss to coat. Add more dressing if desired. Divide between 6 plates or bowls. Top each serving with avocado.

Tip: Umeboshi vinegar, aka ume plum vinegar, is the pickling brine from making Japanese pickled plums. Find it in the Japanese or Asian section of your supermarket or with the other vinegars, or online. Eden Foods is one widely available brand. If you can’t find umeboshi vinegar, red- or white-wine vinegar or lemon juice would all work well as a substitute. Because the umeboshi vinegar is quite salty, if you substitute another vinegar or lemon juice, you might find the dressing needs a little added salt.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 2 cups
Per Serving: 306 calories; protein 9.7g; carbohydrates 37g; dietary fiber 14.5g; sugars 9.3g; fat 16.5g; saturated fat 2.3g; vitamin a iu 19327.4IU; vitamin c 45.3mg; folate 435.1mcg; calcium 127.9mg; iron 3.8mg; magnesium 85.6mg; potassium 1228.3mg; sodium 521.8mg; added sugar 1g.