Nothing screams summer quite like a bright and fruity salad. This Blackberry Avocado Salad combines fresh blackberries, crunchy pine nuts, creamy avocado and a tangy blackberry vinaigrette for the perfect light and healthy summertime meal. This salad is gluten-free, paleo and vegan-friendly!
Summer salads are what I live for. I love the complexity and depth of flavor in an artfully paired salad, especially when it is full of fresh, in-season ingredients.
This salad is creamy, tangy, nutty, slightly sweet and bursting with flavor. Not to mention healthy AF. The shallot, avocado, blackberries, spinach and basil all add a variety of micronutrients making it the most delicious multivitamin you've ever had.
When people tell me they don't like salad, I think it is problem relating to lack of creativity and should not reflect poorly on salads as a whole. Learning to create the perfect salads is a skill that is undervalued.
The three key salad making concepts are as follows:
- Fresh ingredients
- Varying textural elements
- Pairing flavors so they are all complimentary
Stay tuned for my masterclass on the art of salad making.
Ingredients & Possible Substitutions
- Frozen Blackberries - Frozen blackberries are used in the dressing because they puree a little smoother and break down a little easier. Fresh blackberries can be used instead just make sure to use ripe, in-season berries for the best results.
- Maple Syrup - If not following a vegan diet, honey would work well in place of maple syrup.
- EVOO - If you do not have olive oil on hand, using a neutral flavored oil, like avocado oil, would be a good substitution.
- Lemon Juice - Fresh lemon juice would be ideal, but using lemon juice from a bottle is totally acceptable and I won't shame you. You could also replace the lemon juice with more white balsamic vinegar in a pinch.
- White Balsamic Vinegar - If you cannot find white balsamic vinegar, simply replace the vinegar with more lemon juice!
- Fresh Blackberries - Any sweet-tart, in-season berry would work well in this salad. Raspberries or strawberries would be great!
- Shallot - I love shallots because they aren't as intense as onions and have a more mild, sweeter flavor that is comparable to garlic. If you can't find a shallot, you could use a red onion but know that it will pack more of a punch.
- Pine Nuts - Pine nuts are the butter of the nut family. They are rich, mild, almost sweet and go with just about everything. Pine nuts can be kind of pricey. In lieu of pine nuts, feel free to sub walnuts or even pecans for that classic crunchy element.
- Spinach - Spring mix, arugula, baby greens or even romaine will work fine in this salad. Use whatever you prefer or have on hand.
If you are preparing this salad ahead of time, prepare all ingredients with the exception of the avocado. Wait to add the avo until you are ready to eat to prevent it from browning. Keep the dressing in a separate airtight container until serving.
Making A Meal
Top this salad with grilled chicken for a simple and healthy summertime meal that is full of flavor, or pair it as a side to any grilled protein to make a complete meal.
Focus On Fresh
Fresh ingredients really make a salad. This salad is going to be the best during summer when berries, avocados and greens can all be sourced fresh and locally. Make sure you have crisp greens, soft, juicy berries and creamy, ripe avocados for best results. Don't afraid to make substitutions for ingredients that don't meet your standards!
Adjust Dressing To Taste
If you like a tangier dressing, add a teaspoon or two more of vinegar or lemon juice. If you prefer a sweeter dressing you can taper up the maple syrup. After you blend the ingredients, taste the dressing and adjust the flavor to your own preference.
Don't Have A Blender?
If you don't have a bullet blender, no big deal. You can smash the frozen blackberries once completely thawed with a fork and then whisk together the ingredients in a bowl. The blender just gets rid of the larger chunks of blackberry creating a smooth puree, but the dressing still tastes great without this appliance.
Feel free to leave a comment and a rating below. Feedback is always appreciated! 😊
Blackberry Avocado Salad
- Cutting board
- Salad bowl
- Small container with lid
- Bullet blender
- 5 ounces Spinach (about 5 cups)
- 1/4 cup Pine nuts Or walnuts
- 6 ounces Blackberries Fresh (about 2/3 cup)
- 1/4 cup Basil Shredded
- 1 Shallot
- 1 large Avocado Ripe
- Peel and mince garlic.
- Place all ingredients for dressing in a bullet blender. Seal the blender and puree for 15-30 seconds or until the blackberries are broken down. Taste the dressing, add more vinegar if it is too sweet for you tastes. Set dressing aside.
- If you don't have a bullet blender you can smash the thawed frozen blackberries with a fork in a bowl and whisk all the ingredients together.
- For raw pine nuts: Heat a small frying pan over low heat, add pine nuts and toast for several minutes until they brown slightly and become fragrant. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and set aside.
- Peel and thinly slice the shallot. Halve the avocado, remove the pit and peel and then thinly slice it.
- In a large bowl, add spinach and top with the shallot, avocado, pine nuts, washed blacker berries and basil. Dress salad last with as much dressing as you would like. Serve immediately and save any extra dressing in an airtight container.