Cuban Avocado, Pineapple, and Watercress Salad
April was an unusually rough month for me. Some personal things came up that were pretty hard to deal with, followed closely by the bombings at the Boston marathon, and then a shootout and a manhunt for the bombing suspect in my normally very quiet neighborhood. It was all a lot to take in and I had been desperate to get out of town for a little bit and get some much needed R&R.
The opportunity finally came when my wonderful aunt and uncle offered up their beautiful house on the pond while they were visiting my cousin in Texas. Joseph and I spent the weekend taking it easy, sipping Champagne and eating cheese, reading, napping, and watching the birds on the pond.
A favorite part of the weekend was when the lighting hit the house just right and suddenly became an amateur photographer’s dream come true. I got so lost in the excitement of taking photos that nothing else mattered. All in all, it was a perfect weekend where the toughest decision faced was whether to sip on beer or wine while sitting on the porch with my feet up.
The other big highlight of the weekend was without a doubt this salad. Joseph and I both concluded that it was the most amazing salad that we had ever had. With the creamy avocado, luscious broiled pineapple, peppery watercress, and a hint of cumin in the tangy dressing, this salad has it all. While each component brings so much to the recipe, the sweet and tangy pineapple is particularly outstanding.
I’ve mentioned my love of raw pineapple before, as well as the mild allergy I think I have. Luckily once pineapple is cooked, it doesn’t seem to affect me and I can eat as much as I want. Less luckily, however, the enzymes hurt my skin when I cut it, leaving me with burning hands while I try, in vain, to enjoy my pineapple. The last time I had cut a pineapple I declared that I would never cut another one. That all changed when I received an amazing box of goodies from the great folks at OXO.
In my mind, the star of the box was the pineapple slicer. Even if you don’t have any allergies, cutting pineapple can be kind of a pain. Of course you can buy the pre-cut pineapple from the store, but it’s much more expensive and less fresh. With this great little gadget, all you have to do is lop off the top of the pineapple, screw the slicer in, and pull the pineapple out! It comes out in one long magical ribbon of pineapple, ready to be eaten (or broiled or grilled!). It’s so easy that there’s no excuse not to buy your own pineapple whole and save lots of money. Added bonus? Once you’ve removed the fruit, you’re left with the outer shell of the pineapple, perfect for serving a fruit salad in!
Want to know what the sleeper prize in the OXO box was? Never in a million years would I have thought I needed to buy a special spoon just for avocados (ok, technically it’s not just for avocados for, but so far that’s all I’ve use it for), but this spoon has won my heart. It actually comes as part of a set of two fruit scoops: a larger one for large fruits like melons or mangoes and a smaller one for kiwis or avocados. In the summer I am constantly cutting up avocados to put in a salad or make guacamole with and frankly, I never knew what I was missing. This little spoon scoops out the avocado so quickly and cleanly with it’s perfectly sized scoop and sharp edge, making prep a snap. We’ve been using the larger scoop for mango, which works pretty well, except the sharp edge cuts through the mango skin a little too easily.
Whether or not you’ve got a pineapple slicer, you’ve really got to give this salad a try. Cool, creamy, sweet, with just a hint of spice, it’s got a little bit of everything and I’m not kidding – I think it’s the best salad I’ve ever had. Impress your friends at the next barbecue or make a big bowl and keep it all to yourself (I won’t judge).
I received these kitchen tools from OXO free of charge, but all opinions expressed here are my own.
**It is not too late to contribute to the One Fund, **providing assistance to the victims and families of those affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. To make a contribution of any amount, go to www.onefundboston.org.
Cuban Avocado, Pineapple, and Watercress Salad
Recipe from Maricel E. Presilla on Food 52
You may notice in the pictures that some of the pineapples look a little more charred than others. The first time I made this salad was also the first time I used the OXO pineapple slicer, and I didn't push quite hard enough, which led to some unevenly cut pineapple. Though they look a little black, they were still delicious. Nonetheless, to make things easier on yourself, cut the pineapple to the same size so they cook more evenly.
- 2 bunches watercress
- 1 pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into four 1-inch thick rings
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar or fresh lime juice
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Haas avocados, diced
- 1 small red onion (5 ounces), thinly slivered lengthwise
- Place the watercress in a colander and rinse under cold water to remove any grit or sand. Discard any yellowing leaves and remove the larger, tough stems leaving only the leaves and tender stems. Pat dry with paper towels and refrigerate while you prepare the rest of the salad.
- Heat the broiler. Place the pineapple slices on a baking pan lined with aluminum foil and sprinkle sugar evenly on top of them. Broil about 4 inches from the heat source, turning once, for 5 to 10 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Let cool, then cut into 1-inch chunks. Set aside.
- Prepare the dressing: Place the garlic, olive oil, vinegar or lime juice, cumin, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Taste for seasoning. Set aside.
- Place the watercress in a medium bowl and toss with half the dressing. Arrange on a large platter. Add the pineapple and avocado to the same bowl and toss with the rest of the dressing. Mound the pineapple and avocado over the bed of watercress. Garnish with slivers of red onion and serve immediately.