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There are few flavors that excite me more than the combination of sweet and salty. These two drastically different tastes are magnificent and used in seemingly endless ways. Usually, I only find this flavor combo in unhealthy dishes. OK, Ill be honest: thats probably because the unhealthy dishes win most battles based on my own inability to say no.
That was the case until this salad came along.
Made with umeboshi, a Japanese plum that is dried then pickled, this salad is simple yet bursting with exotic flavors. The salty and tart flavor of the umeboshi can be strong on its own, but paired with creamy avocado and a walnut oil dressing, the flavor is a bit more mild. Mild, yes. Unnoticed, no. The flavor still pops, just like the pink color, in the midst of the crisp greens and smooth avocado. The addition of walnut oil vinaigrette, made with walnut oil and Japanese mirin, adds a slight earthiness that helps to counter the tang of the umeboshi. Because mirin is slightly sweet, the marriage of the vinaigrette with the umeboshi is perfect. Subtle and beautiful, this salad fulfills the need to quench my salty-sweet cravings in a healthy way. And how gorgeous are the black sesame seeds? The contrast in color is nearly as wonderful as the flavor itself.
I chose to use a bitter green for the salad, but any light, leafy green, such as bibb lettuce, frisée, or microgreens, will suffice.
If you are interested in giving umeboshi a try, check at your local Japanese or Asian grocery store.
Umeboshi & Avocado Salad
Serves 2 as a main dish and 4 as a side dish
1/2 cup umeboshi, pitted and roughly chopped
1 head leafy-greens, friséeanything you prefer, washed and chopped
1 avocado, sliced
1/4 cup walnut vinaigrette (see recipe below)
2 teaspoons black sesame seeds
Pile the lettuce in a large bowl. Arrange the avocado slices on top followed by the umeboshi. Drizzle with the walnut vinaigrette and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Serve.
Makes a scant 1/3 cup
1/4 cup walnut oil
3-4 tablespoons mirin
Whisk the walnut oil and mirin together. Season with salt if desired. (If using on the Umeboshi & Avocado Salad, refrain from using salt as the pickled plums are very salty on their own.)