Garden Salad with Avocado Green Goddess Dressing (a.k.a. Hippie Salad)

This salad reminds me of my home state of Oregon so much that I get a little sappy even just thinking about it. Western Oregon’s fertility is due to mild conditions and excellent soil courtesy of several incredible floods near the end of the last ice age, but there is something else extraordinary about Willamette Valley-grown food that distinguishes it from all other food I have yet tasted.

I ate a version of this salad almost every week throughout my 20s.  It’s seen me through vegetarianism, raw foodism, fancy dinner parties, breakups, and potlucks.  And even though I ate it for dinner last night and for lunch this afternoon, I can’t wait to make another version after my next trip to the farmer’s market.

Garden Salad with Avocado Green Goddess Dressing

Choose whatever greens you like for this salad.  Try Romaine or spinach if you wish to keep is basic (I just found out the other day that Romaine is actually chock-full of fat-soluble vitamins and minerals – so don’t be a dud like me and assume it’s nutritionally valueless). If you prefer more a more flavorful base, try baby greens, endive, frisee, radicchio, escarole, or whatever else you come across. If you choose bitter greens (specifically radicchio or escarole), soak the chopped leaves in icy water for 20 minutes before you’re ready to make the salad.  This will cut down on the bitterness tremendously and make the leaves nice and crisp.

I stuck with classic salad veggies for this version of the Hippie Salad – carrots, cukes, tomato, and onion, but as always, I encourage you to choose whatever looks the freshest or most intriguing at your local market.

Great additions to this salad are crumbled feta or ricotta salata cheese, toasted nuts or seeds of any variety, olives, croutons, and/or crumbled bacon.  Enjoy this salad as a meal on its own or as a side to a simple piece of meat or fish or a bowl of soup.

Garden Salad with Green Goddess Dressing:
*serves 3 as a main dish, 6 – 8 as a side dish*

Start by making the dressing, the recipe for which can be found here. You don’t have to use the herbs I suggest – substitute with other leafy herbs based on what you have on hand or to your tastes. If you are anti-sardine, use 2 teaspoons of capers as a substitute.  For a vegan version, use a non-dairy sour cream or yogurt substitute in addition, or just skip the sour cream altogether.

For the Salad:

1 medium bowlful of chopped lettuces, baby greens, etc. (about 1/2 #)
½ a large, fresh onion, julienned or cut into half-rings
1 small cucumber (or 3 persian cucumbers), chopped
1 large carrot, chopped or peeled into thin strips with a vegetable peeler
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

My additions:

½ C. of slivered almonds, toasted
4 slices bacon, cooked until crispy and then crumbled or chopped

Once the dressing is made, toast the nuts if necessary and cook off the bacon. Wash and prepare your lettuces as necessary.  Slice, peel, or grate all of your additional vegetables and set aside.
Garden Salad with Avocado Green Goddess Dressing

When ready to assemble your salad, place the lettuces and cut veggies into an oversized bowl (large enough so that you can toss the salad around with ease). Add half of your nuts or seeds and bacon and about 3/4 of the green goddess dressing and toss thoroughly but gently to coat.  Transfer to a platter or decorative bowl for serving and sprinkle with the remaining nuts or seeds and bacon.  Serve the extra dressing on the side – you never know when you’ll need a little extra.

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