This weekend feels like summer. Blue sky, warm breeze, and a vaguely familiar glowing orb in the sky. Vancouver is exquisite in the the summer; it completely redeems itself for what feels like endless months of rain and perpetual grey. These golden days make it the right kind of weekend for afternoons at the park or beach and drinks on a patio in the evening, either your own or at your favourite watering hole. Everything feels fresh and people on the street can’t help but smile – it’s like we’re all experiencing a shared endorphin boost and we’re all high on vitamin D. Amazing what a little sunshine can do.
This salad feels like Vancouver in summertime to me with it’s vibrancy, freshness and Asian inspiration. I think I was really craving sushi when I first made it and even though you can certainly toss it all together and sprinkle on the sesame seeds, my preference is to dip the pieces in the dressing as you would sushi into soy and then touch the saucy bites down into the toasty seeds. Chopsticks optional. It’s a riff on a salad that we had occasionally as I was growing up that was just avocado and yellow grapefruit tossed together with a bit of olive oil. This version takes our taste buds a bit further East and plays more on the sweet/savoury balance and the beauty of the mysterious umami.
Supreming the orange might seem like more work than necessary, but cleanly removing all the pith and membranes leaves you nothing but the juicy pure capsules of orange flavour (or sub in grapefruit or pomelo with the same technique). If you’re new to supreming citrus, the ever-helpful folks at Bon Appetit can show you how, here. It’s not hard, I promise. I struggle more with forgetting to watch the sesame seeds and letting them burn.
Okay, it’s time to crack a cold drink and get back outside to soak up some more sun! Enjoy your weekend!
Avocado and Orange Salad with Toasted Sesame Dressing
this is enough to serve 2 people as a starter
3 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted until golden in a dry pan
1 ripe avocado pitted and cut into chunks
1 large navel orange, trimmed of all rind and pith, sectioned and cut into chunks
½ an English cucumber, chopped
½ C roasted cashews
ground pepper to taste
Assemble the avocado, orange, cucumber and cashews on 2 chilled plates. Toast the sesame seeds and set aside.
For the dressing:
the juice of a lime
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 Tbsp olive oil
½ tsp agave or honey
Whisk all ingredients. Pour into a shallow dish to dip the salad into piece by piece, or pour over right before serving.
Sprinkle the dressed salad with the toasted sesame seeds, or if you’re dipping the pieces, dip them in dressing, then seeds.