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.
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.