This quick and easy salad is fresh, creamy, delicious, and the perfect way to celebrate the return of spring. I love it as a side dish to grilled chicken or fish, or you can increase the serving size to have it as a large salad for lunch. Because it has so few ingredients, you'll want to make sure the ones you buy are high quality, and that your avocado is ripe. All of the vegetables in this salad are in season right now, so not only should they be fairly easy to find in stores, but they're sure to be delicious!
How to Choose a Ripe Avocado
Have you ever bought an avocado only to come home and find out that what you thought was perfectly ripe was actually completely rotten? I always find sickly brown/black, squishy avocados sitting at the front of the produce bin in my store with "ripe today" stickers on them, when they are actually well past their prime. Since you'll want soft, green avocados for this salad, I'd like to teach you how to choose the perfect avocado. These are the tips taught to me by my husband's Aunt, a great cook and an avocado buying pro! These steps will give you an avocado that will be ready to use immediately, but if you can't find one that fits the bill, just buy a green one, and wait a few days for it to be perfect. The ingredients in this salad are fairly hearty and will definitely be fine for a few days in the fridge.
Look for color: Find an avocado that has an even green or black color to the skin; it should be quite dark. The photo above shows two avocados that look fairly similar. I turned up the brightness as much as I could in the first photo to show you the true color. The one on the right, while bumpy, is a fairly even tone of black. Sometimes you'll see a very, very dark green as well. The one on the left, however, is almost the color of a raisin. It's black with an undertone of red-brown. That's not a good color for an avocado. Look for black or green.
Feel it: Give it a light squeeze at the sides. It should feel slightly soft, giving under the firm pressure of your fingers, but not squishy. If it feels like a rock, it's not ready. If you feel any hallow spots or overly mushy areas, it's very likely rotten. Now, locate the bottom of the avocado; this will be the point on the fruit exactly opposite the stem. Using your thumb, press this point lightly. It should be quite soft here; more so than the sides. This is a sign that the avocado is ready to use. Referring back to the photo above, the fruit on the right ticked all the boxes I mentioned, while the one on the left was very soft and had some spots that even felt hallow. Not good.
Check the stem: Does the stem look strange or gross in any way? I've seen mold around the stem of, what would otherwise be, a perfectly good avocado. If you see this, it likely has mold inside as well. If you still aren't sure if your avocado is good, you can actually pop the stem out with very little effort. The color under the stem should be a bright, healthy green. If you remove the stem and it's black or brown, this is not an avocado you want to use. In the second photo of the series above, the one on the right is the color you're looking for. The one on the left is white with mold, so while the color of the skin may be similar, this should be an obvious tell that something is wrong.
Cut it Open: If you're pretty sure it's ready to use, the only thing to do is cut it open and check. When your knife goes in, it should feel soft like butter. Check out the last photo to see the difference inside these avocados. Warning: one of them is pretty gross, so if you don't like the look of rotten avocados, just take my word for it..
Now that you have your perfect avocado, let's get to the fun part.
Making this salad
This salad is so, so simple to make. Slice up all of your ingredients as thinly as possible. For the Fennel, remove the tall stems first and set them aside. You can use the delicate fronds as a garnish when you're finished. The type of radish I used is called a watermelon radish, which came in my produce subscription box. I love them because they add a beautiful springy pink color to the dish and have a mild flavor and big crunch. If you can't find them, that's no problem. You can leave them out completely or just check the notes at the bottom of the recipe for some suggestions for substitutions. Once your vegetables are sliced, roughly chop mint (I like to stack the leaves, roll them up and slice into strips) mix them together in a big bowl.
Next you'll want to dice your avocado. I unfortunately do not have any photos demonstrating that because I was so excited for my lunch, I forgot to take them. But if you've never cut an avocado before, I promise it's simple.
Wash the avocado, then sliced down the middle until your knife hits the pit. Then just rotate the avocado, cutting your way around the pit until you get back to where you started. Twist, then open it. Remove the pit and make several slices both vertically and horizontally across the avocado while it's still in the skin. Using a spoon, you can then scoop out small diced pieces of avocado. It doesn't have to be perfect because you're going to mix it up. I do it this way because the creamy avocado coats the rest of the ingredients slightly while leaving some of it whole, so you don't end up with a green, gloopy mass of mushed avocado.
Lastly, you'll add some of the Honey Lemon Vinaigrette. Half of that recipe will be more than enough for this salad. If you're not sure how much you'll want, make the full recipe and store the rest in the fridge. It will keep for two weeks and tastes great on any salad greens, so it's up to you! Add a couple grinds of fresh ground pepper, garnish with some fronds from the reserved fennel, and you're finished!
Fennel Avocado Salad
2 Green onions, thinly sliced, whites only
1 Large fennel bulb, halved and thinly sliced (reserve fronds for garnish if desired)
1 Watermelon radish (optional), sliced thinly into half moons*
2 Tbsp fresh mint, roughly chopped
1 Ripe avocado, small dice
Honey Lemon Vinaigrette (to taste)
Fresh ground pepper
Prepare the vinaigrette and set aside.
To a large bowl, add sliced green onions, fennel, radish, and mint; toss to combine.
Add diced avocado and gently toss to coat the vegetables lightly in avocado. Don't actively mush the diced avocado; be sure to leave several whole pieces.
Add as much of the vinaigrette as you'd like and toss once more. I used about 1/4 cup for my salad, but you may use more or less depending on the size of your fennel. Start with a few tablespoons and taste it to see if it needs more.
Top with a few grinds of fresh ground pepper and fennel fronds, if desired.
*No watermelon radish? No problem! Either leave it out or sub in a red radish. You should only need one, but be sure to slice is very thinly because these are much more harsh tasting than the mild watermelon radish. If you don't like radish, give some jicama a try! While it won't bring any color to the salad, it's slightly sweet, juicy, and has a satisfying crunch like the watermelon radish.
Serves 4 as a side
Serves 2-3 as a lunch entrée