Using avocado as a main ingredient in my salads is nothing new, and this Cucumber and Avocado Salad with Hemp Heart and Pepitas is the latest version on my table. The addition of pepitas (pumpkin seeds), crumbled goat cheese and a hearty squeeze of lime juice gives a simple dinner staple a fresh lift.
My fetish with avocado-based salads started because there was a time when I just didn’t like salad greens. Blame it on the dinner salads in my 1980s home made with tasteless iceberg lettuce and bottled Italian dressing. It was an obligatory part of many meals that I hated. When I was old enough to say no, I did. For years after that I never even glanced at the salad offerings on menus.
This was LONG before avocados were even on my radar, and certainly before they were readily available in grocery stores.
Once I discovered the avocado, my love affair blossomed slowly over time until one day I realized that I was building salads and sandwiches around the avocado and everything else was secondary.
Like when I starting skipping the lettuce in BLTs and subbing avocado. The BAT (bacon, avocado and tomato) is a fixture sandwich at my house in the summer when perfect vine-ripened tomatoes are available (see Summer Recipes – Second Batch for more details).
The BAT gets simplified into just a BA when tomatoes disappear for the season.
As an adult, I chose to start making saladless salads, or salads without greens. The simplest version is an avocado salad which is just a perfectly ripe avocado halved, drizzled with good olive oil and topped with crumbled goat cheese.
I eventually discovered arugula which was the start of greens re-entering my life and my salads. This Avocado and Arugula Salad with Hemp Hearts is a very typical salad on a weeknight at my house.
I wanted to find ways to add texture to my salads, which is how hemp hearts came into play. You can pretty much use any chopped nut to top an avocado but there are also options like chia seeds and furikake (more on furikake coming soon).
My go-to crunchy topping of choice besides hemp hearts are Go Raw sprouted pepitas with sea salt.
Cucumber and Avocado Salad with Hemp Hearts and Pepitas
I was feeling sassy last night, so I decided to double up on the crunch and use both hemp hearts and pepitas. Crumbled goat cheese adds creaminess. I had half a lime already cut, so I squeezed that over the salad which also enhances the avocado and goat cheese. I guess you could take the time to whisk the lime juice with the olive oil for a vinaigrette, but it worked out just fine adding them separately.
The key to any of my salads is to use really good quality olive oil.
If you don’t know whether your olive oil is good (or if it’s even real olive oil), read Losing Your Virginity. Game changer.
- 1 avocado, cut in half and pitted
- 1/2 cucumber, halved lenthwise and sliced
- 2 tbsp crumbled goat cheese
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- 4 tbsp hemp hearts
- 4 tbsp sprouted pumpkin seeds or pepitas
- Scoop out each half of the avocado and place each half in a small salad bowl. Top each with half of the cucumber, crumbled goat cheese, hemp hearts and pepitas. Drizzle with 1-2 tbsp of good olive oil and a healthy squeeze of lime juice.