Cucumbers and avocados are two of my favorite salad ingredients, and they positively sing in this Cucumber and Avocado Salad with Pickled Onion Vinaigrette. Refreshing, easy to make, nutritious and delicious, you can have this side dish on your table within 15 minutes from start to finish.
This dish is a fun blend of contrasting flavors and textures – the cucumber is crisp, cool and brightly flavored, while the avocado is smooth and creamy with an almost buttery richness. A bold dressing is the key to bringing these two components together, and the piquant profile of the pickled onion vinaigrette makes this the perfect addition to the salad.
The onions are quick-pickled in white wine vinegar, and you could alter the flavor of the dressing by using another type of acid like rice wine vinegar or fresh citrus juice. Because we are quick-pickling the onions to create a tangy dressing, the ratio of vinegar to oil is greater than in a regular vinaigrette (three tablespoons vinegar to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil), and this measurement will work with any of the acids mentioned here.
I have chosen a red onion for the vinaigrette, as it brings a lovely contrast in color to the green ingredients, as well as a touch of spicy heat. Thinly sliced onions work best for quick-pickling, and I use either a very sharp knife or a mandoline food slicer to achieve paper thin slices.
The onion slices are pickled in a large bowl with the vinegar for just 10 minutes, and minced garlic and fresh parsley are added along the way. I appreciate the neutrality of fresh parsley for this dish, as it works to brighten and enhance the main components without adding another flavor into the mix. Just like the vinegar, you could swap out the parsley in favor of a bolder herb like fresh mint or cilantro.
A large English cucumber is perfect for this dish, but six mini cucumbers would also work just fine. I dice the cucumber into half-inch pieces about ¼-inch wide and leave the skin on for added color and nutrition. This step can be done up to a day in advance and the diced cucumber can be refrigerated until it is time to assemble the salad.
Avocados can brown quickly once exposed to air, so I wait to dice it until the onions have finished their 10-minute pickling. I dice the avocados just a little bit larger than the diced cucumber and immediately add them to the pickled onions, along with the diced cucumber.
The first time I made this salad, I served it over a piece of grilled salmon and my family loved the combination. This dish would also work well as a side dish or in a sandwich with chicken or tuna, or even a burger, and I have also incorporated it into other salads.
This Cucumber and Avocado Salad with Pickled Onion Vinaigrette may be simple to make but it delivers big on flavor, every time. Happy summer!
Cucumber and Avocado Salad with Pickled Onion Vinaigrette
Serves: 4 to 6
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion (about half a small-medium onion)
½ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon kosher or sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup fresh parsley, stemmed and finely chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 English cucumber, diced into pieces ¼-inch wide (or 6 mini cucumbers)
2 avocados, diced into pieces ½-inch wide (to prevent browning, wait to cut them until ready to add to the salad)
In a large bowl, add the vinegar, onions, sugar, salt and pepper; toss to combine. Add the garlic, parsley and olive oil and toss well to combine. Let the mixture sit at room temperature to pickle for 10 minutes, tossing again after 5 minutes.
Dice the avocados and then add them to the salad along with the diced cucumber, tossing gently to coat. Taste and add more salt and pepper as desired. Serve immediately as a side dish or topping with fish, chicken and sandwiches, or as a main course with salmon, tuna or chicken mixed in.
To store: This salad is best enjoyed as soon as it is prepared, but leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Recipe Time Capsule:
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“Home with the Lost Italian” is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello’s in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at email@example.com.