Sunday, June 15, 2008

Watercress, Avocado, and Orange Salad and Meeting Food Bloggers


Last Sunday I had the pleasure of enjoying lunch in La Jolla with four lovely and talented food bloggers: Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen (center), Amanda of What We're Eating (back right), Nicole of Pinch My Salt (front left) and Alice of alice q. foodie (front right). You can check out the wonderful food we ate over at Kalyn's Kitchen. (Thanks, Kalyn, for sending me this picture).

Among the different topics of conversation, places to live came up. When Kalyn mentioned that she had a beautiful garden in Utah, there was a collective "Awwwww " and many variations of "I wish I had a garden." Then Kalyn added, "Yeah, but don't forget that when I'm freezing in the winter in Utah, you're enjoying beautiful weather here."

When I mentioned that I live downtown, Nicole said, "I'd love to live downtown." Though when she announced she was starting a garden in her new house, I lamented that I can't even keep basil alive on my condo deck.

Life really is relative, isn't it?

We all agreed, however, that having a fruit tree in your yard would rock. In fact, our lease is up soon, and Jeff and I are looking around to buy. He's leaning towards a condo, but I keep sending him emails for houses with lines like: "Lovely mature avocado tree in the backyard."

Lots of people in San Diego have avocado trees. In fact 95% of avocados produced in the US come from Southern California with a whopping 60% from San Diego county.

watercress avocado salad half

Thankfully we have friends like Terri who have avocado trees and generously share their bounty with us. We've enjoyed Terri's fresh, delicious avocados in everything from breakfast egg sandwiches to salsas.

avacodo hass raw

Hass avocados (pictured above) are the most widely consumed avocado in the US and are available year round. It's easy to tell when these oval shaped fruits are ripe: their deep green pebbled skin turns almost black. The pale green flesh of the Hass avocado is creamy and custard-like and has a rich, slightly nutty flavor.

Fuertes avocados, another popular California variety, also have a smooth, pale green flesh but have a fruitier flavor. Since Fuertes avocados have a lower fat content than the Hass variety, the flesh tends to be less creamy. Unlike the Hass, its green skin is smooth and retains its color even when fully ripe, so check for ripeness by gently squeezing it: it should yield slightly.

Avocados get a bad rap for being "fattening." That's not completely true. They are high in monosaturated fat or "good" fat which can lower your "bad" (LDL) cholesterol. Still, it's wise to eat them in moderation since they're dense in calories: one-fifth of a medium avocado, or about 2-3 thin slices, has 50 calories and nearly 20 vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients (which are believed to reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease, and cancer).

Here are some tips about handling and storing avocados:
  • Firm avocados can take up to 1 week to ripen. To quicken the ripening process, place the avocado in a paper bag with a yellow banana. The banana releases ethylene which speeds up the ripening process.
  • Store avocados on the counter until ripe, then refrigerate until ready to use.
  • The flesh of an avocado oxidizes, or turns brown, quickly. To prevent discoloration, sprinkle the cut flesh with lime or lemon juice. Also don't cut the avocado until you're ready to use it.

Watercress (pictured above) is a bright green leafy vegetable with an intense peppery flavor. In this salad, its sharp edge is balanced with the cool creaminess of the avocado and the sweet tang of the orange.

I'm sending my sassy salad to Michele of Greedy Gourmet for her Snack Shots #4: Salads. Plus I'm tickled to announce that my post Muffin Tops: Flat or Pointy? was the winner of the Word4Word Contest in Snack Shots #3 Muffins. Many thanks to Jeanne and Rita who judged.

watercress avocado salad center

Watercress, Avocado, and Orange Salad

Makes 2 servings.
Print recipe only here.

1 bunch watercress, stems trimmed
1 avocado, sliced or diced and sprinkled with lime juice
1 navel or Valencia orange, peeled and sectioned
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons pepitas (Spanish pumpkin seeds)

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon orange juice
2 teaspoons lime juice
pinch of lime zest
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt, to taste

To make the dressing, whisk all ingredients in a small bowl until well blended; set aside.

For the salad, slice the avocado and sprinkle with lime juice to prevent it from oxidizing, or turning brown.

On individual plates, add watercress, then top with orange, avocado, and onion slices. Drizzle with dressing, and sprinkle with pepitas.

You might also like these recipes featuring avocados:

Shrimp Tacos with Citrus-Avocado Salsa

Mexican Citrus Salad with an Orange-Lime Vinaigrette

Farmers' Market Veggies with a Cumin-Chile Vinaigrette

And more awesome avocado recipes:

Save This Page on