Hello, spring! We couldn’t be more excited for your arrival. And although you won’t really make any sort of appearance here in North Dakota for at least several more weeks (possibly months) that doesn’t mean we can’t start getting ready now.
Let’s momentarily put away our braising pans and soup pots and break out the salad spinner, because I don’t know about you, but I am ready for something bright, crunchy, and fresh.
This salad is all about textures; the watery crunch of the romaine, the creamy avocado, the pop and chew of the toasted pumpkin seeds, all blend together to make each bite as satisfying as the last. There is nothing particularly fancy about this salad but it is so delightful to look at with its many shades of green and such a refreshing blend of tart, sweet, and slightly bitter that it never gets boring.
I’ve made this salad in many iterations but I like to stick to four core ingredients. The romaine adds necessary structure and crunch; the soft, delicate baby kale leaves give a bitter earthiness that lends the salad some backbone. The toasted pumpkin seeds cannot be left out; they add heft and body to an otherwise dainty dish and lastly the avocado for its mellow quality, which unites the separate components into a delicious, seamless whole.
Of course a kicky dressing does make this salad all the more enticing and nothing says spring like a good citrus vinaigrette. Grapefruit is an especially nice option; it is sweet, but not too sweet, sour but not overpowering and has that addictive floral quality that brings out the best in everything it touches. Just make sure you are using fresh-squeezed juice; store-bought grapefruit juice has that stale, tinny quality. I look for pink grapefruit that are heavy for their size and have a blush of ruby to their skin. Serve this salad on its own for lunch with a hunk of good, crusty bread. Pure bliss.
If you need more spring inspiration check out my Pinterest page for more recipes and gardening tips. XO
Baby Kale, Avocado, and Pear with Grapefruit-Cilantro Vinaigrette
- Yield: 4 1x
For the Vinaigrette:
- 1/4 cup minced red onion
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons agave syrup
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 3 tablespoons fresh grapefruit juice
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1/4 cup olive oil
For the Salad:
- 3 cups baby kale, washed and dried thoroughly, tough stems removed
- 1 head romaine lettuce, washed and dried thoroughly, torn into bite-sized pieces
- 10–12 cilantro sprigs
- 1 large avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced
- 1 large pear, cored and sliced
- 1/3 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
- To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk together. Dressing can be made up to 3 days in advance (although the cilantro will brown slightly).
- To make the salad, toss the kale, romaine, and cilantro sprigs together. Arrange the avocado and pear slices over the top and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds.
- Whisk the dressing once more to combine then drizzle over the salad and serve.