Encrust the humble avocado with nutty black sesame seeds as you serve it up with cucumber, exposed pea pods and some greens. Accompanied by a delicious raspberry walnut dressing, this salad is easy to make over and over again.
Why I love Sesame Avocado Cucumber Salad
Avocado, peas, mixed lettuce leaves and cucumber. These are all very simple, healthy, staple ingredients which you can procure from your supermarket.
As we try to do so often, we think about how we can elevate everyday ingredients through a little creativity in presentation and how we make the flavours work together.
Whether we admit it or not, we do eat with our eyes first. If a dish presents well, you are immediately drawn to it, and you automatically turn on your positive receptors and believe it’s going to taste good.
If I had just chopped everything up and tossed it together, do you think it would appeal to your tastebuds as much as the way it is presented now?
Perhaps in a blind tasting yes but by showcasing this combination of produce as I have created here, it will “taste” better, and I’m going to show you how.
The black sesame crusted avocado is well contrasted against the green vegetables and the bright red raspberries. And nothing is quite as stunning as an open pod of fresh peas.
Oh, and it’s yum! Did I mention that??
Why Avocado Isn’t Vegan
I have no doubt your first reaction is “what”??
Well, it was mine anyway!
Back in 2018, a question posed on the hit comedy quiz show, QI, on BBC posed a question as to which of the following choices: avocados, almonds, melons, kiwis, or butternut squash, would a strict vegan eat.
Naturally, the majority of us would answer that all of them were vegan when in fact the answer was “none of them”.
All of the listed fruit, vegetables and nuts require bees to pollinate their crops. Due to the sheer scale and difficulty in doing so, migratory bee-keeping has been introduced.
This is big business, mind you, where bees are considered to be exploited, housed in big crates and transported from crop to crop.
As the bees are not pollinating in its natural environment and is a well organised commercial venture, it is considered to be cruel and of course, goes against the grain of the veganism.
The definition of veganism “is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.”
The commercial reality of this, however, dictates that it is not practical to adopt such thinking as it doesn’t just pertain to the aforementioned produce. This would span across a lot of crops around the world, and eliminating them from your diet is simply unrealistic.
Host Sandi Toksvig ends the segment with “bad news for millennials, I’m afraid. Avocado toast is usually not vegan.” As you can imagine, it sparked a flurry of comments and much debate.
How to Pick a Good Avocado
On to more practical pursuits. How to pick an avocado.
A squeeze test is usually the way to go but do be gentle as it bruises them easily. If it yields, it is perfectly ripe. Of course, hard means that it isn’t and may need a few days while really soft means it’s overripe.
At most grocers these days, you’ll find that ready to be eaten avocados have a ripe sticker on them. I guess that’s to stop consumers from squeezing them.
Unfortunately, I still need to know if it’s the right ripeness for my liking, so I do still give it a very gentle prod, albeit gentler than usual.
The colour of the skin is sometimes a good indicator too, although not fool proof as all the different varieties of avocado have different colours. But more often than not, just like our avocados from All Aussie Farmers, they are green when unripe and a much darker green when ripe.
For this recipe, we need the avocadoes to be on the riper side so that we can press the sesame seeds into the flesh. There is less of a chance it will all fall out if they are embedded into the avocado.
If you always have trouble finding ripe avocado, I suggest you buy them a few days in advance, so they ripen by the time you make this recipe.
Why Avocado Turns Brown Inside
Just like pears and apples, the flesh of the avocado turns brown when it comes in contact with air. This is a chemical reaction rather than the first sign of spoilage.
With the aid of enzymes, the compounds in the avocado reacts with oxygen to produce pigments called melanin, causing the flesh to go brown.
How to Stop Avocado from Turning Brown
Dousing the flesh of an avocado with lemon juice is perhaps the most well-known trick of how to stop it from turning brown. But note that it doesn’t solve the problem entirely.
Just the same as putting a peeled avocado in water, which I don’t suggest you do as it makes the flesh go all slimy looking or put in an airtight container, facing down with an onion. I don’t want onion flavoured avocado, so that’s a no thanks from me!
The one trick I feel works best of the lot is to leave the pit in, and our girlfriend, Lily, taught me this trick when she made guacamole and left the pit in the bowl. I did say “dude, you left the pit in the bowl” and she laughed and explained why. It does a pretty good job.
Or you could try French-born British chef Raymond Blanc method, which is to blanch a whole avocado, with the skin on, into a saucepan of boiling water for exactly 10 seconds. No more and no less.
Then dunk it in an ice bath to stop it cooking. The blanching process kills the enzymes which causes the flesh to turn brown.
White v Black Sesame Seeds
One is not better than the other, and it comes down to personal preference.
Black sesame seeds are nuttier in flavour and still has a thin outer hull intact. So, you’ll find that the flavour of the sesame seeds is stronger while the texture is not as smooth.
White or tan coloured sesame seeds are smoother and softer as they are hulled and milder in taste.
When purchasing them, just like nuts, they can come either roasted or not. If they are not, just give them a light toast in a dry frypan for 30 seconds to extract its flavours even more.
How to Make Avocado Cucumber Salad
Lightly dry toast black sesame seeds in a fry pan for 20 seconds. Remove and set aside to cool.
Cut the avocado in half, discard the stone and peel.
Place half an avocado in the palm of your hand. Pick up black sesame seeds with your other hand gently press the black sesame seeds into the avocado. Do so until it is fully coated. Repeat for the rest of the avocados.
De-string the peas and blanch in a saucepan of boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain and place in cold water to stop the cooking process. Pat dry and open them up.
While they look absolutely stunning, the pod of a regular garden pea isn’t edible as it’s too stringy. Might like to remind your guests to just extract the peas and put the pod aside.
Using a wide Y peeler, peel off one layer of skin and discard. Then peel long wide strips until you hit the seed. Turn the cucumber on the other side and repeat. Then roll up each strip.
How to Make Raspberry Walnut Dressing
Place the raspberries in the mortar and gently grind until mashed up.
Then add the walnut oil, sherry vinegar, honey and allspice and mix until well combined.
If raspberries are not in season, you can use frozen raspberries. Just make sure that they are completely defrosted before using as otherwise, it will dilute the dressing.
How To Assemble The Salad
In a medium sized mixing bowl, add the mixed leaves and half the dressing. Toss until well combined. Place on the platter.
Add the sesame crusted avocado on top.
Place the rolled-up ribbons of cucumber around the platter.
Scatter the peas in the platter.
Drizzle the rest of the raspberry walnut dressing on top.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
There you have it! The nutty flavours of the sesame seeds give the usual soft and creamy avocado a little crunch. At the same time, the greens lighten the whole recipe.
The raspberry walnut dressing is a real winner and ties all the ingredients together perfectly in what is an otherwise truly easy to make avocado cucumber salad.
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Ingredient Pairing Ideas
If you’d like to create your own salad and have an ingredient you’d like to hero, we have some great pairing suggestions to help you work out what flavours go well together.
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Sesame Avocado Cucumber Salad
- 1 cup sesame seeds, black
- 2 avocado
- 12 peas
- 1 cucumber, Lebanese
- 60 g mixed leaves
Click on the toggle below for conversion to US Cooking Units.
- Lightly dry toast black sesame seeds in a fry pan for 20 seconds. Remove and set aside to cool
- Cut the avocado in half, discard the stone and peel.
- Place half an avocado in the palm of your hand. Pick up black sesame seeds with your other hand gently press the black sesame seeds into the avocado. Do so until it is fully coated. Repeat for the rest of the avocados.
- De-string the peas and blanch in a saucepan of boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain and place in cold water to stop the cooking process. Pat dry and open them up.
- Using a wide Y peeler, peel off one layer of skin and discard. Then peel long wide strips until you hit the seed. Turn the cucumber on the other side and repeat. Then roll up each strip.
- Place the raspberries in the mortar and gently grind until mashed up.
- Then add the walnut oil, sherry vinegar, honey and allspice and mix until well combined.
- In a medium sized mixing bowl, add the mixed leaves and half the dressing. Toss until well combined. Place on the platter.
- Add the sesame crusted avocado on top.
- Place the rolled-up ribbons of cucumber around the platter.
- Scatter the peas n the platter.
- Drizzle the rest of the raspberry walnut dressing on top.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- It’s easier to work with softer, riper avocados so that the sesame sticks better.
- You can use white sesame seeds or a mixture of both black and white if you prefer.
- Any assortment of mixed leaves will work fine.
- Not all peas are created equal. If you open up the pods and the peas aren’t looking great, you don’t have to serve it in the pod. You can just buy fresh peas out of the pod or even use frozen peas.
- Frozen raspberries would work just as well for this dressing. Just ensure they are completely defrosted prior to use so that it doesn’t dilute the dressing.
- You can replace the honey with maple syrup or rice malt syrup for a vegan version of the salad. Or just omit it altogether.
- While the peas in their pods look absolutely stunning, the pod of a regular garden pea isn’t edible as it’s too stringy. Might like to remind your guests to just extract the peas and put the pod aside.
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