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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Citrus Avocado Salad


Salads are an easy side dish or beginning to any meal.  Most of us tear up a bit of lettuce or open a bag of mixed greens, maybe even some spinach if feeling fancy and add a few chopped raw vegetables, break out the Kraft dressing and we have salad.  But sometimes we want something other than our everyday fare and look for different ingredients or a new way of combining the ordinary ones.  "Different" ingredients will only be different if you don't use them all the time or use them in a way that you usually do not.  So my "different" will be different from your "different". 

This Citrus and Avocado salad is different to me because I don't make it often even though I often eat these ingredients in other foods or by themselves.  The salad is pretty enough for company but just as easy to prepare for your family.  I knew I was making this salad today and this morning I bought a bag of dried cranberries and wouldn't you know I forgot to use them.  They're still in the grocery bag!  So just use your imagination to see dried cranberries scattered among the leaves and citrus slices. 

I've made this salad both on individual plates or on a large serving platter.  It just depends on how you want to serve it.  Either way is easy to put together and serve.  I've included the recipe for the citrus dressing and a very easy recipe for honey roasted nuts.  Both the dressing and roasted nuts are super easy to make and really make the salad special.


Citrus and Avocado Salad
Dark green lettuce or greens such as Romaine, as much as you need for 4 salad plates or bowls
Spinach, if desired
Sectioned oranges and grapefruit (One each will give you enough for about 4 servings.)
Red onion rings, very thinly sliced
1 or 2 avocados peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon dried cranberries, per serving, optional
Bakon bits, optional
½ - 1 cup walnuts, pecans or favourite nuts, honey roasted (see recipe below) or plain
Citrus Dressing (see recipe below)

Wash and dry lettuce and any other greens used for the salad. 

Line each plate or a large platter with lettuce and greens.  Layer the orange and grapefruit sections, a few thinly slice red onion rings, sliced avocado and the cranberries, dividing between individual plates if using. 

Drizzle salad with dressing and top with the roasted nuts.  

Makes approximately 4 salad plate servings.

Citrus Dressing
¼ cup orange juice or saved juice from sectioned fruit or for a stronger citrus flavour use frozen concentrated orange juice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons honey
½ cup olive or canola oil
Pinch salt and pepper

Place all ingredients in a small jar or covered container and shake well.  Taste and add more honey if a sweeter dressing is desired.  Serve with salad.

Honey Roasted Nuts
1 cup walnuts, pecans or favourite nut
2 or 3 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons butter
2 or 3 shakes salt

In a small bowl, mix the nuts, salt and honey coating the nuts as much as you can.  You may need a little more honey if the nuts still looks dry in many places.

Place a piece of parchment paper on a cookie tray.  Spread the butter around in the middle of the paper.  Spread the honeyed nuts over the buttered area of the parchment.  Place in a 325 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, stirring once or twice during baking.  If the honey seems to be browning too quickly, turn the oven down to 300 degrees.  Remove the tray from the oven and let cool.  Break up the nuts leaving a few whole ones for garnish. 
 


To section or supreme an orange or grapefruit, follow the instructions below.

1. Cut a slice off top and bottom of orange. Using a sharp knife remove orange skin from top to bottom. 2. This orange is just about peeled.  Use a plate under the orange to catch the  juice.  3. When orange is peeled, insert knife between membrane and fruit and slice through.  Repeat on opposite side until you have a clean section of fruit cut. 4. When you are finished you should have just the membrane hanging unto the core of the orange and a nice pile of orange sections minus the membrane.

When removing the grapefruit sections be very careful not to include any of the membrane or white pith surrounding the fruit.  This is bitter as gall in a grapefruit. Discard any grapefruit juice because it may have picked up the bitterness from the skin, pith or membrane.  Save the orange juice by holding the orange over the sectioned grapefruit as you cut away each piece.  You may drain off the juice in a strainer and use it for the dressing. 


Cutting an avocado should be a simple procedure but I have at one time stabbed the fleshy palm of my hand directly under my thumb with the very knife in the photos.  Here is a much more desirable way to remove the flesh and stone from the avocado fruit.  Cut the fruit all the way around through the skin.  Twist the avocado halves until they come apart.  Now, this is the most important part.  Lay the half with the stone on a cutting board.  Keeping hands out of the way, give the stone a quick hard blow with the blade of the knife and then twist the stone out of the fruit.  Whatever you do, don't keep the avocado half in your hand and try to stab at the stone...very bad idea.  Now you can slice through the flesh and remove the slices with a spoon.  If you will not be serving the salad within a few minutes, sprinkle the avocado with lemon juice to keep the slices from turning brown.

To make the honey roasted nuts mix the nuts with the honey and salt.  Spread on buttered parchment paper and bake 10-15 minutes in a 325 degree oven turning once or twice.  Break up the cooled nuts leaving a few whole nuts for garnish.


Now that the orange, grapefruit, avocado and nuts are ready you can start to assemble your salad. 


 
Line each salad plate or bowl with bite-size pieces of lettuce and spinach.

Layer on the orange and grapefruit sections, sliced avocado and thinly sliced onion rings.  If using cranberries or bacon bits may add now or just before serving.  Do not add honey roasted nuts until ready to serve.  These are plain nuts in the picture.  You can also see I made this particular salad on a large serving platter. 

If using individual salad plates divide the ingredients equally between each plate. When ready to serve, pour the dressing over the prepared salad. If you prefer a thicker dressing, a creamy poppy seed dressing may be used.

 Add the roasted nuts and any other optional ingredients such as bacon bits and dried cranberries.

A lovely start to dinner!




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