Why is it that the things that aren’t good for you are always the things you want the most? I’m not even talking about bacon or French fries here. I’m talking about California. In my opinion, it’s one of the most beautiful states – where else can you get beaches, mountains, redwoods, pines, palm trees, deserts and lots of lush green areas all in one state? The weather is almost always delicious – at least in southern California, where I’d really love to be, which means the growing season never ends.
BUT. The taxes, the price of real estate, the price of gas, the complete lack of water (coupled with desire for a full swimming pool and your homeowners association insisting on a green lawn), the traffic, the government, the schools… The price of living in paradise.
Much of my family has moved from Chicago to the San Diego area, mainly because of the weather, and I would love to do the same. I would love the lushness and the near perfect Mediterranean-like climate, and definitely the year long growing season. I love the giant strawberries, and the orange groves and avocado trees everywhere, and even the nut farms - who knew nuts grew on a farm? But the sensible side of me says no, don’t do it! Every time I read one of those “Best and Worst Places to Retire” articles, I secretly pray that California has jumped from the worst to at least in the top 10. Still waiting…
So for now, I dream, and think about living in paradise every time I eat those giant strawberries that you find in June, and avocados, and oranges. California dreaming is the inspiration for this Power Salad – full of all of those fresh fruits, greens, citrus fruits, avocados, and even nuts that are always in season out there.
This salad features lots of healthy antioxidants and vitamins from fresh greens and fruit, along with some quinoa for extra protein. Feel free to add some feta cheese if you like. I can almost hear the palm trees swaying in the wind…
The dressing features avocados for creaminess, along with lots of fresh herbs and citrus. So. Fresh.
California Power Salad
- ½ medium avocado
- ½ small sweet onion sliced into thirds
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- ¼ cup fresh orange juice
- ¼ cup fresh grapefruit juice
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 2-3 tablespoons cilantro leaves
- 3 large basil leaves
- 2-3 tablespoons parsley leaves
- kosher salt
- 4 cups baby greens loosely packed
- 1 ½ cups cooked quinoa
- 12 strawberries hulled and quartered
- 1 ½ cups watermelon cut into thin slices
- ¼ cup toasted pecans
- 3 tablespoons sunflower seeds
- ½ avocado cut into cubes
- Add ½ avocado, onion, lime juice, orange juice, grapefruit juice, vinegar, olive oil, maple syrup, and herbs to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade. Process until smooth, and season with salt and pepper to taste. If thinner dressing is desired, thin with a bit of cold water.
- Transfer the dressing to a small bowl and set it aside.
- For the salad, toss the baby greens, quinoa, strawberries, watermelon, pecans, and sunflower seeds in a large mixing bowl.
- Add desired amount of dressing and toss to coat.
- Add the remaining ½ avocado chunks to the dressed salad.
- Serve immediately.
Have you ever visited California? Do you live there? What's your favorite California food?