Up until very recently I thought I didn’t like avocado. I know! What was that all about? In my defence, the last time I had tasted it was when I was a kid, and the texture kind of threw me. I guess I just decided that was it. For the past few years I had been eating guacamole, and loved it, but I still refused to eat avocado any other way. For some reason I thought that there was a magic ingredient in guacamole (maybe the tomatoes?) that negated the texture of the avocados (which sounds even sillier when I write it down than it did in my head!).
Finally, one sunny afternoon in May, seduced by the thought of fresh Bay shrimp at The Spinnaker Restaurant in Sausalito, I tried a Seafood Club Sandwich with shrimp, crab and avocado. I think it may well be one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten. Since then, avocados have been on my shopping list every week.
One of the other things I have really come to love is the ‘turf’ version of the sandwich I had in Sausalito. California Club sandwiches with chicken and bacon have become a peculiar addiction of mine, one I was able to indulge quite a lot on our recent holiday in Southern California. Trouble is there is just so much (irresistible) bread. I always swear I’m going to carefully remove one of the slices, but somehow, my plate ends up clean, and I end up feeling very full, and very guilty.
When we got home, I decided to find a way to indulge my love of the wonderful flavour trinity of chicken, bacon and avocado without endangering my waistline quite so much, and this is the result. This hearty salad makes a great lunch or dinner and even works as a starter if you divide the portions in half.
You can use any dressing you like with this. Usually just a light vinaigrette with some chopped finely chives and basil works for me, because the bacon-y juices make a bit of a dressing of their own anyway.
I like to serve this salad cold, but top it with the hot bacon. I think it makes the flavours blend together better than if the bacon is cold.
To serve two people you need:
4 to 5 cups mixed lettuces, washed, dried and torn in bite size pieces
1 cooked and cooled chicken breast, finely chopped
1 avocado, peeled, halved and chopped
½ cup chopped pancetta or bacon
2 to 3 small tomatoes (or the equivalent), finely chopped
For the vinaigrette
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 generous teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon chopped fresh herbs or half a teaspoon of dried herbs (chives and/or basil work well)
Place all the vinaigrette ingredients in a clean jam jar and shake until thoroughly mixed.
Cook the bacon in a frying pan on the stove top, until it becomes nice and crisp.
Put the lettuce in a big bowl and toss in the chicken and avocado. Toss with the vinaigrette.
Divide the salad between two plates. Top each plate with half the bacon, and then half the tomato.
If you drink wine, this salad tastes really nice with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc or Pino Grigio.