Those of you who have been following this blog since its early days know that I’m obsessed with a few particular foods: tomatoes, shrimp, avocados, cheese (oh God, the cheese… I will NOT succumb, I will not!), and friggin’ quinoa. Someday I may actually make a fun recipe that will incorporate all of these but for now, just know that I am obsessed with these individual foods. Though avocados aren’t always the most cost-effective ingredient to have on hand, I have managed to find a way to have them in my house at least 80% of the time. I’m not usually the biggest fan of the pre-packaged veggies & fruits in general (it’s a control thing; I like to select my produce myself), but I am very grateful to Trader Joe’s for their lovely little packaged deal of 4 avocados for about $2.49. That’s less than $1 per avocado and you all know that’s a great deal. If I can’t get ‘em there, I’m always on the lookout at my regular grocery stores for some sales and, of course, ye olde farmers market (though that’s my real “splurge”: organic, always ripe, always PERFECT avocados @ 6/$5.00; painful but well worth it).
The latter was the case yesterday, as I took a MUCH needed trip to my favorite farmers market under the freeway, which means I am quite able to share with you one of my Poor Girl Salad Staples. Sure, sure, the farmers market in the winter isn’t the glorious food mecca that one encounters in the spring & summer, but it was still nice to get out and people watch whilst I hunted for produce. The scent of narcissus blossoms permeated the air, fresh citrus fruits were absolutely everywhere, and I remained forever amused – and slightly impressed – by all the devoted husbands and boyfriends buying last minute Valentine’s Day bouquets of gorgeous, beautifully scented, affordable flowers (I hate grocery store flowers; all the scent has been bred out of them and I find them completely pointless). Amidst all these wonders were some great scores for me, including some rainbow chard, pink navel oranges and, of course, my avocados. As I’m still severely struggling financially (more on that in my next post, I promise), I could only afford to get 3 of these perfect fruits, but I left content, knowing I’d sink my teeth into their green creamy goodness in no time.
Everyone knows the avocado is extremely versatile, but I think we all tend to forget the simple dishes that certain ingredients can create. This particular salad is nowhere near genius, but it almost tastes that way because it beautifully combines some great ingredients in a simple, flavorful way. It’s a side, it’s a salad, it’s a garnish, it’s an entrée; it’s one of my favorite ways to enjoy the avocado, and you can think of it as a sort of deconstructed guacamole. Eventually – and I know this from experience – you will get tired enough to just squish everything together until it makes everyone’s favorite dip. But for the 10 minutes or so of patience that you will have with this, just enjoy it. Though there are just 3 main ingredients, this salad is full of different textures and flavors that make one just sit back, relax, and contemplate WTF it is that one is eating. Seriously. I think that with all the food blogs and recipe sites and food shows that are taking over our collective food consciousness with all sorts of random recipe ideas, we forget what it’s like to have something simple. Beautiful. Delicious. So here it is: one of my favorite salads ever. Serve it as a side or on its own w/plenty of greens and you’ll thank me later.
My Favorite Avocado Salad (makes 3-4 side servings; total cost per serving: ~ $1.25)
2 small tomatoes
1 small red onion
2 T lemon juice (key lime is preferable if you have it)
1/4 t sea salt
1/2 – 3/4 t freshly ground pepper
1/4 t granulated garlic (or freshly crushed garlic if you have it)
Couple of sprigs of fresh cilantro for garnish
Chop the avocado and tomato into 1″ pieces and slice the red onion into thin, 1/2″ slices. Add the lemon juice, salt, pepper and garlic and fold everything together gently (remember, we’re not makin’ guacamole here!) until everything is combined. Serve as a side with your favorite dishes, as a garnish, or just by itself with some fresh lettuce or spinach, and enjoy!