Summer is the perfect time to enjoy fresh salads. No need to turn on the oven or the stove, you can put this gorgeous plate together under 20 minutes. It is refreshing, made with simple ingredients, easily adaptable for most dietary restrictions and most importantly it can be transformed into a wholesome meal with a few additions.
When it comes to flavour combinations, avocado and grapefruit are known to compliment each other famously well and this salad draws its power from their beautiful friendship. The cucumber adds a good crunch and the honey-yuzu vinaigrette helps bring out all the flavours, adding the right amount of freshness and acidity without being too overpowering.
This dish is perfect when served as a simple, elegant and flavourful appetizer but if you love turning salads into wholesome meals like I do, here are some of my suggestions:
Add soba noodles, wild rice or glass noodles for a gluten free option. You can also experiment with barley, quinoa or legumes like green lentils or beans.
This salad is especially good to serve with seafood. Go for grilled shrimp, grilled white fish or salmon. For a vegan option, you can add some marinated tofu or tempeh or a mixture of noodles, legumes and grains of your choosing.
What is Yuzu?
Yuzu is a hybrid citrus fruit mainly cultivated in Japan, Korea and China. Acidic and very fragrant, Yuzu became a popular ingredient amongst gourmet chefs worldwide around 2010 and still is being considered a precious ingredient.
If you want to more about how to incorporate this beautiful fruit to your daily cooking, click here to check out a brief but informative article by TheKitchn.
How can you subsitiute Yuzu juice?
The only tricky ingredient you'd need to make this recipe is the yuzu juice. Most asian markets will have it or you can ask them to order some for you. If you don't have Yuzu juice available where you are, don't worry! You can also make your own substitute that's been approved by a Japanese chef!
When I was doing my internship at Maromi Istanbul, a restaurant specialising in sushi and Kaiseki menus (traditional multi-course menus created by the chef), our chef introduced me to Yuzu and its uses in Japanese cuisine. Then explained he couldn't find Yuzu fruit in Turkey, let alone it's bottled juice version so he had to develop his own substitute. Since we did not have a written recipe and made this in very large quantities, I can't tell you the exact measurements but I'll explain how we did it in detail so you can try it at home.
Take lemons, oranges and lime. For example you can start experimenting with 2 oranges, 1 lemon and 2 limes. These ratios may vary depending on how acidic or sweet your ingredients are. While some oranges can be super sweet, some can be quite sour so I recommend you taste them and decide how much you want of each ingredient.
Peel and remove all the white parts from the lemons and the oranges. You'll keep the lime peel as it will help mimic that fragrant flavour of the Yuzu fruit. Put everything into a juicer and the result should have pretty much the same flavour profile as the Yuzu juice!
Tips and Tricks:
For a vegan version, simply replace the honey with brown sugar or coconut sugar for a refined sugar free option. If you're using sugar, you may need to increase the amount of sugar to 1 tbsp. I recommend you first go with 1/2 then add more to your liking.
If you don't like the taste of olive oil, you can use any other oil you like. Grape seed oil will go fabulously with this recipe.
While the ingredients for the salad makes enough for 1 serving, the vinaigrette will make enough for about 2 servings. Double or triple the recipe as needed.
You can keep the leftover vinaigrette in a jar and store it in your fridge for up to a week or two but let's be safe and say one week.
Here I used pistachios and hemp seeds for some extra protein and nutritional punch but you can use toasted pine nuts or almonds. You can also experiment with coriander instead of basil if you like.
PREP TIME: 15 MIN
For the salad:
1 small cucumber
1 tbsp of hemp seeds
A handful of chopped pistachios
3-4 basil leaves
For the Honey-Yuzu Vinaigrette:
1 tbsp of soy sauce
1/2 tbsp of lemon juice
1/2 tbsp of honey or sugar
2 tbsp of yuzu juice
3 tbsp of olive oil (or any other oil of your choosing)
Crushed black pepper to taste
1. In a jar, preferably with a lid that you can close, mix all the ingredients for the vinaigrette. Close the lid and give it a good shake. Your vinaigrette is ready!
2. Slice your avocados, cucumber and grapefruit in any shape you like. Top it with the hemp seeds, pistachios and basil leaves.
3. Give your vinaigrette another shake right before you pour it on your salad.