It’s not even mid-March, but it’s sunny and warm enough to spend an entire day on the balcony, which I happily did yesterday. First trying to recover from the night before with a cup of coffee, enjoying the sun on my face and legs - I was actually sun tanning, and technically, it’s not even spring yet! Then I moved on to cleaning it up, throwing away all the useless stuff that was hoarded there in the cold months, when the outdoors were nothing more than some extra storage space. Saying sorry to all the dead plants that ended up in the trash as well. Mopping the floor several times with an ambition to get all the stains off, finally settling for the level of no-dust sensation when walking barefoot. When I got hungry, I dreamed of a ridiculously unseasonal, non-local salad of strawberries and avocados. But then, the strawberries were from Spain. That’s pretty close to Italy. In my book, that’s okay.
Then the salad was gone and I started planning (or maybe just daydreaming) about how to make some use of all the sun- drenched space. How fantastic would it be to have a huge bush of mint, which, judging by my parents’ garden, grows like wild weeds? Or maybe a tiny plant of tomatoes, just for the satisfaction? Some radishes and peas would be the pretties sight, and I could add wild strawberries which cost so much here I can’t even savor the taste properly, too busy fighting guilt. Maybe I’ve been giving too much attention to Nigel Slater’s Tender, which became my bedtime read in the last few weeks. But then, if he can grow a full vegetable garden (I’m only on part I) in London, what could go wrong on the sunniest terrace in Milan?
Some extra notes on the salad: I usually keep a mix of leafy greens in the fridge, and that’s what I used here as well, but I feel like avocado doesn’t really work with the peppery rucola and radicchio, so if you can, go for some baby spinach (which is very mild in flavor and so cute) or maybe even plain iceberg lettuce, which I personally hate, but then, not all palates are the same. Despite the light look, it’s quite filling, so I wouldn’t worry about adding more than a slice of grilled bread. Which you could maybe cube to make croutons - I will go that way next time. And again, the picture is not the best, but I was just so hungry and the salad smelled so good that all my patience flew out the window.
Avocado and Strawberry Salad with Herbs
(serves 1 as lunch)
1 small avocado (mine was rather minuscule, so maybe go for ½ regular avocado)
1 handful both mint and basil leaves, fresh
2 handful leafy greens
½ lime, juice
1 tsp Aleppo pepper (or some finely chopped red chilli, or a sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper)
1 tbsp olive oil
salt to taste
to serve, 2 slices of bread
Slice the avocado in half, put your palms on the sides and twist them to open the fruit. Stab the stone with a knife, turn it slightly to get the stone out without damaging the flesh. Place the halves on a chopping board, skin down. Careful not to cut through the skin, slice the avocado vertically, then using a tablespoon, take the slices out of the shells (which you can now discard), and chop them into cubes, again carefully as not to make a mash. Place that in a bowl.
Move on to the strawberries: wash them, dry them, get rid of the leaves, chop them into smaller-than-bite-size pieces (I made horizontal slices then cut in half). That, too, goes in the bowl.
Wash your herbs with cold water, dry with a paper towel, and chop up, don’t bother if it’s not too fine. Do the same with the greens, add everything to the fruit.
Add the lime juice, pepper, half of the olive oil and salt, gently mix the whole things, perhaps even using your hand. Let stand while you prepare the toast.
Heat up the remaining olive oil over medium heat, add the bread and fry on one side for 2-3 minutes. Using tongs, take it out of the pan and place on the salad. Or you could cut the bread into medium-sized cubes and fry it that way, which would give a crunch to each bite.
Have a nice week everyone!