Avocado Vinaigrette

Guacamole Salad Dressing
Avocado Vinaigrette. Molly Watson

Avocado is delicious in salads, of course, but it also forms a perfect base for salad dressing. It brings creaminess and mellow but crave-able flavor. And let's not forget why: fat. Avocado contains plenty of it, and most of it is monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, which are the "good" kinds (unlike saturated fat and trans fat, which are the types of fat to limit). All that fat helps carry other flavors around your mouth, making the salad taste even better—and isn't that what salad dressing is all about?

How to Make Avocado Vinaigrette

I like to make this in the bottom of a large salad bowl, and then just add the salad ingredients to it. You can do this ahead, even, just add any heavier salad ingredients right on top of the dressing, then the greens or lettuce, cover with damp paper towels, and hold in the fridge for a few hours. Or make it in a spouted measuring cup or jar for easy pouring later.  

  1. Mash 1/2 to 1 avocado in the bottom of a salad bowl or, if you're making it ahead, into a wide-mouth jar or large measuring cup or small bowl.
  2. This is optional, but I tend to add a minced shallot or a clove of garlic (also minced).
  3. Whisk in 1 tablespoon good-quality red or white vinegar and 1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
  4. Whisk in enough extra virgin olive oil to have a dressing-like consistency (1 to 3 tablespoons does the trick depending on how much avocado you used and how thick you like your dressing). 
  1. Add 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, taste the dressing, and add more salt depending on your taste. Then add freshly ground black pepper to taste (or not!).

By the way, you don't need to worry about the dressing turning brown, the vinegar in there will help keep it nice and green for a day in the fridge if you want to make it ahead.

How to Use Avocado Vinaigrette

This dressing is tasty on plain lettuce, and really lovely on peppery greens (arugula, mizuna, etc.) that benefit from its creaminess to mellow them out. It also serves as an excellent foil to something hearty, like kale, that you've cut into ribbons, dressed, and let sit a bit to soften in the dressing. 

How to Dress Up Avocado Vinaigrette

There are lots of ways to play with this basic dressing. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Use lemon or lime juice instead of vinegar
  • Whisk in avocado oil, sesame oil, or your favorite salad oil instead of olive oil
  • Add a minced chile! (Be sure to taste it to see how much you want to add)
  • Throw in some herbs—cilantro is a natural pairing, but fresh mint leaves are a good option, too
  • Pick rice vinegar and then soy sauce instead of salt
  • Grate in some fresh ginger

Start with the proportions above, taste as you add things, and see what you can come up with!