My mother-in-law, a wonderful all-around cook, is especially known for her salads. While the ingredients vary a little each time she tosses one together, over time I've started to notice several toppings turning up in regular rotation: citrus, red onion, and avocado. What I think makes this a winning combination isn't just the way the flavors work together, but also how beautiful the orange, purple, and green look on the plate.
I consistently reach for this trio whenever I'm composing my own side salads. Sometimes other ingredients appear, like salty blue cheese crumbles or toasted pecans, but never as a substitute for the original three. I've also gotten pretty good at pulling together a vinaigrette comparable to my mother-in-law's, which always tastes very tangy on its own but perfectly balanced once tossed with crunchy lettuce, sweet oranges, and creamy avocado.
→ Serve This With: Sweet Potatoes with Chickpea Tomato Sauce
Green Salad with Orange, Avocado, and Red Onion
medium navel oranges
1 small clove
garlic, finely chopped
Pinch of salt
extra-virgin olive oil
medium red onion, thinly sliced
medium avocados, sliced
Romaine lettuce, chopped and washed
Segment the oranges over a small bowl (see how here). Squeeze any remaining juice from the peels and membranes into the bowl.
Strain the orange segments, reserving the juice. In a small bowl, combine one tablespoon of the orange juice with the garlic, vinegar, mustard, and salt. While whisking, pour the olive oil into the bowl in a thin stream, and continue whisking until all the oil has been added and the dressing is smooth and emulsified. (Save or drink the remaining unused orange juice.)
Combine the lettuce, strained orange segments, onion, and avocado in a large salad bowl. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Serve immediately.
I have used, and loved, balsamic and red wine vinegars in place of the sherry vinegar.
Any lettuce you like will do here, but I'm partial to something sturdy and crisp, like Romaine, since none of the toppings are crunchy.
Dress the salad just before serving. If your head of lettuce is small, you may not need all the dressing. For the size of lettuce I typically get, this recipe makes about the right amount of dressing, although I often reserve about 2 servings' worth of salad to dress for lunch the next day.