This umami-packed avocado salad recipe from Phyllis Grant’s Everything is Under Control: A Memoir With Recipes combines buttery avocados, crisp lettuce, fresh herbs, and a bold and zingy garlic and anchovy dressing. Plus, it happens to be paleo, Whole30, and keto-friendly, so it’s the perfect 20-minute side dish to make when you’ve got some ripe avocados!
My friend Phyllis Grant, the author of the highly acclaimed food blog, Dash and Bella, is a fantastic writer, recipe creator, and the queen of making vibrant and crave-worthy salads. When her memoir came out last year, I read it all in one sitting—something I rarely do—because Phyllis’s poetic writing drew me in completely with its honesty, wit, and rawness.
To celebrate the paperback launch of her memoir with recipes, Everything is Under Control, I had the honor of being coached by Phyllis on how to make an epic salad on her Instagram Live back in April. When we ate the salad for dinner, my family easily agreed that it was the best one I’ve ever made.
Because we freestyled the salad with ingredients I had in my kitchen, there is no recipe. Still, I wanted to share one of her tried-and-true magical salad recipes with my readers, and thankfully, Phyllis gave me permission to share the Avocado Bowls with Garlic Anchovy Dressing from her memoir. The interplay of flavors and textures tastes truly amazing—I’d eat a salad everyday if it was one of Phyllis’s recipes.
- Olive oil packed anchovy fillets: Yes, you need to use anchovies. Don’t turn your nose up at them—they’re what makes this salad so delicious and full of umami! You can use any leftover fillets to make my Tonnato Sauce.
- Garlic cloves: The minced garlic gets warmed up in the skillet with anchovies, resulting in a potent and heavenly dressing.
- Sherry vinegar: Zippy sherry vinegar is the perfect foil to the bold anchovies and garlic. If you don’t have any on hand, red wine vinegar or Champagne vinegar work well.
- Shallot: The mellow sweetness and slight crunch from the warmed shallots are EVERYTHING.
- Dijon-style mustard: Mustard helps emulsify the dressing and adds some tang to the warm dressing.
- Extra virgin olive oil: Use a high-quality, freshly-pressed extra virgin olive oil for the dressing.
- Mixed baby lettuces: Phyllis sometimes serves the avocado cups by themselves or on top of butter lettuce, hearts of romaine, or cabbage salad. Personally, I like to use Little Gem lettuces and/or whatever looks fresh at the market.
- Hass avocados: Use ripe avocados that yield slightly when you give them a little squeeze. I put mine in the fridge as soon as they’re close to being ripe so I can make sure they don’t ripen too quickly.
- Fresh herbs: A handful of chopped parsley and/or cilantro work well as a final garnish, but feel free to use your favorite combination of fresh herbs.
- Coarse sea salt: I like using a crunchy, flaky sea salt in this recipe for the texture and flavor.
How to make this avocado salad
Make the garlic anchovy vinaigrette!
Heat a small, heavy bottomed pan over medium heat. When the pan’s hot, add the anchovies and a splash of their oil.
Use a spatula or wooden spoon to smush the anchovies and help them disintegrate.
Turn the heat to low and add the garlic. Cook for about 30 seconds until the garlic smells sweet and fragrant.
Whisk in the sherry vinegar.
Once simmering, add the shallots and cook for 20 seconds.
Take off the heat. Whisk in the mustard.
Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Taste and add more olive oil if it’s too tangy. If the dressing doesn’t emulsify right away, you can pour it into a jar and shake vigorously.
Assemble the avocado salad!
Place the greens in a large shallow platter. Sprinkle on some salt and toss with some of the dressing.
Make the avocado bowls!
Halve and pit the avocados. Carefully peel off the skin.
Place the halves cut-side up on the dressed lettuce leaves. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt.
Spoon a tablespoon of the vinaigrette into each half.
Top with chopped herbs and serve immediately!
What can you serve with this avocado salad?
- Cracklin’ Chicken
- Sheet Pan Chicken and Mushrooms
- Instant Pot Summer Italian Chicken
- The Perfect Steak
If you haven’t ordered Phyllis Grant’s fantastic memoir with recipes, what are you waiting for? Get it by clicking here.
Looking for more recipe ideas? Head on over to my Recipe Index. You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my iPhone and iPad app, and in my cookbooks, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2013), Ready or Not! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2017), and Nom Nom Paleo: Let’s Go! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2021).
PRINTER-FRIENDLY RECIPE CARD
Avocado Salad with Garlic Anchovy Vinaigrette (Keto, Whole30)
For the vinaigrette
- 6 anchovy fillets packed in olive oil
- 2 large garlic cloves peeled and microplaned or very finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 1 shallot finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
For the salad
- 8 cups mixed salad greens
- 1½ teaspoons coarse sea salt divided
- 3 medium Hass avocados
- ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley and/or cilantro
Make the vinaigrette
- Heat a small, heavy bottomed pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the anchovies and a splash of their oil. Use a spatula or wooden spoon to help them disintegrate.
- Turn the heat to low and add the garlic. Cook for about 30 seconds until the garlic smells sweet and fragrant.
- Whisk in the vinegar. Once simmering, add the shallots and cook for 20 seconds.
- Take off the heat. Whisk in the mustard.
- Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Taste. Add more olive oil if it’s too tangy. If it doesn’t emulsify right away, you can pour it into a jar and shake vigorously.
Make the avocado salad
- Place the greens in a large shallow platter. Sprinkle on ½ teaspoon coarse sea salt and dress with 2 tablespoons of the dressing.
- Halve and pit the avocados. Carefully peel off the skin.
- Place the halves cut-side up on the dressed greens. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt. Spoon a tablespoon of the vinaigrette into each avocado half.
- Sprinkle fresh herbs on top and serve!