Crunchy Summer Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing


Remember back when dousing some iceberg lettuce with ranch dressing was considered healthy? We know better now, but a lackluster vinaigrette makes us want to skip the salad altogether. Without the buttermilk and mayo, is it even worth it? This dressing, made with creamy avocado and tangy umeboshi vinegar, will show you the possibilities. You can make it as-is or substitute whatever herbs you have on hand: parsley, basil and cilantro are all great options. The salad itself is a colorful, texture-rich antidote to the stereotypical boring salad, and it's also customizable. Here we use a base of romaine because it's crunchy and sturdy enough to stand up to a creamy dressing, but you can use kale, mixed greens or any blend of greens your heart (and fridge) desires. Same for the add-ins: You can sub in green beans for the asparagus, use black beans instead of chickpeas, or mix in additional veggies you have available like cucumber or shredded carrots. If you want to get extra fancy with it, try grilling the corn for an added smoky flavor. While this salad can be eaten as a side, it's strong enough to star as the entree.

6 servings



  • 1 small avocado

  • 2 tablespoons umeboshi vinegar (see Tip)

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill

  • 1 teaspoon snipped fresh chives

  • 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup

  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder

  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper

  • ½ cup water, plus more as needed


  • ½ pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

  • 1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed

  • 3 cups shredded red cabbage

  • ½ pint cherry tomatoes, halved

  • 1 ½ cups fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)

  • 5 radishes, thinly sliced

  • 2 romaine hearts, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 1 avocado, chopped


  1. To prepare dressing: Halve and pit avocado. Scoop the avocado flesh into a blender. Add vinegar, lemon juice, oil, dill, chives, syrup, garlic powder, pepper and water. Puree until smooth, adding 1 to 2 tablespoons more water if it seems too thick. (Makes about 1 cup.)

  2. To prepare salad: Bring a large skillet of water to a simmer. Add asparagus and cook until barely done, 1 to 3 minutes, depending on the thickness of the spears. Drain and transfer to a bowl of ice water. When the asparagus is cool, remove from the ice water and dry thoroughly. Set aside.

  3. Toss chickpeas, cabbage, tomatoes, corn, radishes, lettuce and the blanched asparagus together in a large bowl. Pour 3/4 cup dressing over the vegetables; toss to coat. Add more dressing if desired. Divide between 6 plates or bowls. Top each serving with avocado.


Tip: Umeboshi vinegar, aka ume plum vinegar, is the pickling brine from making Japanese pickled plums. Find it in the Japanese or Asian section of your supermarket or with the other vinegars, or online. Eden Foods is one widely available brand. If you can't find umeboshi vinegar, red- or white-wine vinegar or lemon juice would all work well as a substitute. Because the umeboshi vinegar is quite salty, if you substitute another vinegar or lemon juice, you might find the dressing needs a little added salt.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

306 Calories
17g Fat
37g Carbs
10g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 6
Calories 306
% Daily Value *
Total Carbohydrate 37g 13%
Dietary Fiber 15g 52%
Total Sugars 9g
Added Sugars 1g 2%
Protein 10g 19%
Total Fat 17g 21%
Saturated Fat 2g 12%
Vitamin A 19327IU 387%
Vitamin C 45mg 50%
Folate 435mcg 109%
Sodium 522mg 23%
Calcium 128mg 10%
Iron 4mg 21%
Magnesium 86mg 20%
Potassium 1228mg 26%

Nutrition information is calculated by a registered dietitian using an ingredient database but should be considered an estimate.

* Daily Values (DVs) are the recommended amounts of nutrients to consume each day. Percent Daily Value (%DV) found on nutrition labels tells you how much a serving of a particular food or recipe contributes to each of those total recommended amounts. Per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the daily value is based on a standard 2,000 calorie diet. Depending on your calorie needs or if you have a health condition, you may need more or less of particular nutrients. (For example, it’s recommended that people following a heart-healthy diet eat less sodium on a daily basis compared to those following a standard diet.)

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a special diet for medical reasons, be sure to consult with your primary care provider or a registered dietitian to better understand your personal nutrition needs.

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