Sunday, June 15

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:

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Kalyn Denny said...

It really is relative isn't it? (Although I definitely vote for a house, especially if it has avocado trees!) It was so fun meeting everyone. Thanks again for the ride, and I hope we can have another lunch or dinner sometime!

Kara said...

So much fun - what a great idea you all had to meet up... but an even greater idea... an avocado tree. Wow - what I wouldn't do for one of those. I don't know how it'd do here in the Mid-Atlantic but that sure is tempting.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for mentioning my name in your blog regarding the avocados...although I have to give the credit to Rick (my boyfriend) who has a 10 acre family ranch out in Fallbrook,he generously supplys me with the avocados during their twice a year pick. They are so yummy that I just have to share them with friends :-)

Manggy said...

Wow, that looked like a fun afternoon! I wonder if I'll be eyeballing anyone soon...

Actually, 250 calories for a whole avocado doesn't seem so bad. Especially since it's still way lower than a slice of cream cake. The problem with me is I usually flood it with condensed milk-- that certainly can't be good for anyone! (Well, not good for the body, but it is good for the soul, haha!) Beautiful salad! Very Californian!

Proud Italian Cook said...

How fun meeting fellow bloggers, its amazing how many friends we all have in this wonderful community! Great salad with that buttery avocado!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A great day! I love meeting other bloggers...

That salad looks delicious! Avocado can't be beat!



Wendy said...

It's only in the last few years that I've truly "discovered" avacados. They are wonderful, aren't they?
I say, go for the house!

Finla said...

You ladies ook fabulous.
I love avocado.
Love the buttery texture of it.
Mostly i make a gret sgrimp salade with mayo and then fill them on top of avacado, will do the salade when it is really sunny

Cannelle Et Vanille said...

how wonderful you were able to meet... lovely photo

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I know I probably don't get to vote... but buy the house with a garden. After a lifetime of living in cities, I now live in a place where I can have a large herb garden (and veggies, too, though I haven't made that leap yet). And we inherited two pear trees on the property, which are the joy of every summer.

Anonymous said...

Very nice!

Anonymous said...

Oh, sigh... I do miss living in California... just for the local produce. Avocados are off my shopping list, sadly, as I'm not buying any produce that requires more than a day's drive to get here. Except for lemons and olives. :-)

Your salad is just beautiful... and how wonderful to have met so many excellent bloggers!

Mishmash ! said...

"Life really is relative, isn't it?" How true!!!!

Salad has the words 'frehsness' and 'yum' written all over it!

All the best with house hunting..:)

Susan said...

What fun for you guys! That photo is just beaming with camaraderie.

Don't let the lack of an avocado tree keep you from an attractive property, Susan. You can always plant your own. Green thumbs are not so scarce that you cannot cultivate one.

Pretty salad. I agree that avocados get a bad rap.

Rachel said...

Oh I wish I live somewhere were we could grow avocados. And mangos! Then I'd be set. We do have a plum tree and blackberries and blueberries but it would be nice to grow something more "tropical".

Julie said...

Susan, it really feels like we're in the same boat! My husband and I are constantly thinking about where we want to live (Ft. Lauderdale is ok, but it's not for us). Problem is we bought a condo about 3 years ago and won't sell it unless we can make a profit. I would love to have a garden (mine would have a fig tree), but we don't want to buy again right away, and we like living in a city. Such dilemmas!

Ann said...

You gorgeous women you! Love seeing you all together.

Aren't avocados simply beautiful? I think their internal color is just sublime. Not to mention flavor. Gorgeous salad.

Simona Carini said...

Very nice! Advantages and drawbacks go hand in hand. I am still reluctant to use avocados, not sure why. Maybe this will be the nudge that I need.

Anonymous said...

How great you got to meet your fellow bloggers! What a great idea!

Your salad looks wonderful. So summery and fresh. I love the dressing you used.

Elise said...

How fabulous to get everyone together like that! I bet you all had a terrific time.

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

What a fun lunch that must have been! The avocado salad looks amazing! One of my favorite summer dishes. I like to have a half for dinner drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and ground pepper.

Brittany said...

That salad looks devine! Thats so great that you guys got to get together for lunch. I must try to organize somthing like that for Seattle bloggers. There certainly are plenty of us.

BTW- I love the necklace you're wearing!!

RecipeGirl said...

How fun to meet other bloggers! I'll check out Kalyns's blog to see where you went for lunch :)

I have some lemon and lime trees in our yard, as well as tomatoes in pots and herbs in our courtyard. Can't grow much more than that.

I absolutely love avocados in salad. The dressing sounds good with the rice vinegar (I don't usually use that.)

Good luck house hunting... seems to be a good time to buy!

Unknown said...

goshhh look at that meeting, i am sooooo jealous...will anyone be coming to hong kong anytime soon? ^_^

Sig said...

Hey, those are some good lookin' ladies :) Looks like you all had a ton of fun! :)

Homemade Heaven said...

Keeping it simple is the secret to great entertaining. Your menu was inspiring.

Anonymous said...

WoW, love those green scene of the salad.

Well, not all of the peoples love the peppery taste of the watercress...

I will increase the amount of avocado as I'm love the avocado's taste.

Thanks for the great recipe here, really appreciated.

Anonymous said...

I wanna come to one too! Sounds so fun! I'm in the States for the month of July...anything happening in Seattle? Utah? Las Vegas or LA? Lemme know and I'll bring some Aussie food! hahahaha
Beautiful recipe and photos BTW

NĂºria said...

I had seen you at Kalyn's kitchen blog... how lovely that you could meet and talk and spend some time together... I would love to do that too!

I'm an avocado lover! It's texture, and flavour and taste, mmmmmm I love it!
Any tips for growing one in the garden out of the seed? Have you tried that? I have tried but haven't been lucky.

ChichaJo said...

I love living in a condo but yes, a house with an avocado tree (or any fruit tree) in the garden would be wonderful! My potted herbs are hanging on by a thread!

LyB said...

You guys must have had so much fun! I agree, an avocado tree in your back yard would be the best. That salad looks delicious, such beautiful colors!

Anonymous said...

I love a good avocado, fat and all. A burrito or taco just isn't the same without that creamy goodness.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Aren't you girls lovely?? I'm sure you had loads of fun together!
What a colorful, fresh, healthy, delicious salad, Susan.

Stef said...

I wish I had a friend who grew avocados! The salad looks so fresh and summery! Thanks for the shout out!

Anonymous said...

Exactly what I would do when we buy a house with a garden, plant a fruit tree :)
Lovely salad, avocado's are delicious!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

kalyn-Yup. :) I hope so too. Soon!

kara- Yeah, I think they like the temperate climate here. But it is tempting, isn't it?

terri-You're so welcome! And please say "thanks" to Rick as well. I can't tell you how much we have enjoyed them, Terri. :)

manggy-Definitely good for the soul. Definitely. :)

marie-It is wonderful, isn't it?

rosa-It was so much fun!

wendy-You and most all food bloggers. :)

happy cook-I love to fill the avocado cavity too. Shrimp would be lovely.

aran-It was wonderful.

lydia-Pear trees? How lovely, indeed.


ann-Whew! Thank goodness lemons and olives are still on the list. :)

shn-Aww, many thanks, my friend.

susan-Let's get some good rap going, whadda ya say? ;)

rachel-Mangoes would be fabulous. Of course, blueberries and blackberries are tops in my book!

julie-Oh, yes a fig tree would be heavenly! I hear you, Julie. Seriously.

ann-Aren't you sweet. Thanks!

simona-I really like them in salads and salsas.

farida-Why, thank you so much!

elise-We did indeed! It would have been even better if you were there. :)

tw-It was terrific!

brittany-The necklace was a gift from my mom. Thanks! :)

lori-Lemon and lime trees would make me happy too!

rita-Not with the weak dollar. ;)

sig-We did!

roseþ-Thank you.

pork chop recipe-I'm glad you like it. Enjoy!

tenina-Ooh, Aussie food? Sounds like fun to me!

nuria-No, I haven't tried it, sorry.

joey-I can't keep basil alive on my windy deck. :(

lyb-Thanks a bunch!

kate-I totally agree.

patricia-We really did. Thanks!

stef-You're welcome!

linda-Looks like fruit trees would make many of us delighted!

Deborah Dowd said...

How fun to meet with other food bloggers! I am an avocado addict. I love them with almost anything- great on BLT and on eggs benedict (counteract the "bad" cholesterol)!

Nic said...

Oh it looks like you had a blast, what fun!!
I would LOVE an avocado tree!
Congrats on your Snack Shot win - well deserved! (And your salad photo is a winner too.)

Katy said...

love the salad, love the idea of an avocado tree, and what a fun lunch! if i can find a manhattan apartment with any kind of fruit producing tree on the premises, that is definitely where my fiance and i are moving!

K Allrich said...

My son Alex just told me he and his GF would love to have a lemon tree when they move to SoCal next year. I said- Wow- wouldn't that be amazing?

Everything *is* relative- and sometimes it's tough to pick your priorities. Where I'm at right now? I'd love to live downtown and walk everywhere (coming from very rural isolation).

I'm glad you had such a fabulous lunch with the other food bloggers, and I really hope to be able to join all of you out there very soon.

And, YAY for avocados.

Lisa Johnson said...

That must have been such a fun lunch! I so enjoy meeting other bloggers, especially when they love food. I'm going to miss not being able to go to the BlogHer Conference this year. What a great time I had at the food blogger dinner.

La Cuisine d'Helene said...

Just so lucky to all me. I'll love to do that someday.

Anonymous said...

First of all, I am beyond jealous. 1) That you all got to meet up. I bet that was such a fun time! 2) That anyone would have an avocado tree in their backyard. Oh what I wouldn't do to be able to walk outside and pick a fresh avocado off a tree!

Jeanne said...

What a great photo you all - and look at you, Susan! so *tall* and gorgeous! I am deeply envious of your meeting up - sounds like you had a blast. And I fully hear you about all things being relative. Here in the UK I pine for proper, ripe avocados (possible to find but not easy) which were plentiful in South Africa, but then if I were to go there I'd miss the plentiful salmon here, The bottom line is that the grass is not always greener on the other side, but it's always a different shade of green :)

And congrats on the Snackshots Word4Word win - very well deserved!

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, I wonder if my emails fall into your spam trap, because I've emailed you twice with no response but you seem like quite an attentive to me. ;-) Received your salad entry, thanks. Did you receive the badge I sent you a few weeks ago? Also, would you like to be a judge this time round?

Susan from Food Blogga said...

deborah-My husband loves them on BLT's too.

nic-Aw, thank you!

katy-Ooh, let me know if that happens! ;)

karina-They'll get their lemon tree, I'm sure! I hope you can join us soon too.

anali-Oh, that's too bad. I remember your posts about it last year.

helene-I hope you do soon.

kristen-It really was fun.

jeanne-"A different shade of green." Well said, Jeanne. :)

michelle-Thank you for leaving this comment. I just checked my spam box and saw your email. I just emailed you.

Anonymous said...

Now this is my kind of salad. You can never go wrong with avo in it, never! Will contact you soon with regard to the judging of this round...

Jaime said...

i'm jealous you got to meet other food bloggers! :) i LOVE avocados and that salad looks delicious. i'm surprised you have trouble growing basil on your deck... i've been surprisingly successful growing it on my apartment balcony - despite my lack of a green thumb :)