This is a fall favourite of mine and I rarely have the four main ingredients all together at the same time but last week it happened. The hazelnuts were ground because there are people in my home who wear dentures so if your preference is roasted chopped hazelnuts, feel free to change things up.
With all that smooth and luscious texture, it comes as no surprise that avocados are said to help with smoothing things over. Plums on the other hand are connected to passion, wisdom, longevity and rebirth through Chinese, Greek and Egyptian traditions. Hazelnuts, luck and wish granting go hand in hand while spinach is another abundance gathering vegetable.
At the end of plum season, I am always happy to see that I can make this lunch one last time.
You will need:
1 ripe avocado
2 ripe President plums or 5-6 Italian Prune plums
1 -2 Tbsp. Gruyere cheese, grated
2 tsp. ground hazelnuts
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
salt & pepper to taste
3-5 drops hot pepper sauce or to taste
1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
chives and or basil, whatever is in your herb garden
There is something about this time of the year that always makes it feel special. Living where one can see the harvest coming in, whether that be the hundreds of acres of berries, local pumpkin fields or all the crops in between, there it is a sense of security and satisfaction that comes when a crop has made it through to harvest. Not everything did this year. There was a bad stretch of heat that took out much of the first blueberry varieties and the entire sour cherry harvest. So when local plums and hazelnuts come my way, I feel appreciative of the successes and focus on that gratitude while collecting the other ingredients for this salad. It is time to say thank you and begin.
Wash, pit and dice the plums. Cut the avocado in half, remove the stone and using a sharp knife cut lengthwise stripes before cutting width-wise ones and using a spoon, separating the fruit from the skin. Place plums and avocado in a bowl.
In a small container combine the hazelnuts, lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, hot pepper sauce, herbs, salt & pepper. Shake and taste. Adjust & taste.
I used chives and basil because that was what was in the herb garden but parsley, cilantro, tarragon, sage are all options.
I have been known to stop here, add the dressing and be finished but, tearing some spinach pieces and adding them to the mixture works too. The spinach can also be used as a foundation for the fruit mixture to sit on.
Pour the dressing over the fruits and turn gently. The rougher you are the more the avocado will breakdown. That is strictly a personal preference.
Sprinkle with the grated Gruyere which will cover much so it will not look too messy in presentation. On the topic of hard cheeses, collect the rinds and use them to add flavour to stocks and sauces. Just remember to take them out before serving.
Serve immediately or cover and cool if you would prefer for a short time. This salad can also be served with a crunchy side of toast but I prefer it just as is. It can be divided and used as a starter or enjoyed as a hearty lunch. Plum and avocado is, in my opinion, a lovely combination and like many ideas, this one is out in the ether where there are additional tasty dressings you might like to explore.