This post was updated in January 2016.
At our Valentine’s Day dinner last week, the chef served us a starter salad that was incredible. A bed of roasted purple potatoes, topped with fresh arugula, shallots, shaved asparagus and toasted almonds all dressed in a creamy, tart avocado vinaigrette. It was so ridiculously good that my husband got halfway through his plate, glanced at his beer and said, “This salad is so delicious that I totally forgot to drink the beer.”
Salad trumping beer? It must be something special. Even more so, I thought I hated arugula but in this dish, it was absolutely perfect. Obviously, it was the work of a well-trained, talented chef. The layers of flavors and textures were complex and interesting. And if Babyface actually touched his beer, he would have known that it paired perfectly with the small pour of Upland Wheat we were served.
Basically, it was the god of salads.
I knew immediately I had to try my hand at recreating it. If it was possible to make me want to cram greens into my piehole, I had to harness that genius in my own kitchen. After some thought, I realized the real super star of the salad was the vinaigrette. While all the individual elements were amazing and came together in a beautiful veggie-rific symphony, the vinaigrette was what really set everything off.
I highly doubt I’ll ever pull together a salad of arugula, roasted purple potatoes and shaved asparagus, but I might be willing to spoon some of that vinaigrette on a standard mixture of greens and top it with some toasted almonds. And that I did. Dare I say, it was almost as good as the salad we were served?
The avocado in this dressing makes it so silky creamy that you’ll have a hard time believing there isn’t diary in it. Use good olive oil and fresh, bright lemon juice and you’ll have a new house dressing. This stuff now lives in a bottle (we like these bottles for homemade salad dressings) in our fridge.
On the nutritional front, it’s hard to think of a better salad dressing for you. Avocados are packed with healthy fats, fiber, and vitamin K. Avocado flesh also helps the body to absorb two key antioxidants—lycopene and beta-carotene. Want to make sure your body gets all the antioxidants it can from your garden salad? Just add some avocado or this dressing and your body will soak ’em right up.
The healthy fats in both the avocados and the olive oil helps the digestive tract to absorb nutrients, help keep inflammation down and help to lower the risk of heart disease. I bet your bottle of ranch dressing can’t say the same thing.