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A Very California Salad from Sqirl That Can Masquerade as a Sandwich

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If there's something Californians know well, it's avocados. We partnered with California Avocados to tap 3 different chefs and cookbook writers to share stories and recipes that are dear to them.

As a native Angelino, it may surprise you to know that I did not grow up eating avocado toast. As a “So Cal” product of the '80s, I thought avocado was in its finest form when used at El Torito to make ‘Fresh Tableside Guacamole.’ I would watch the server skillfully scoop out the flesh of an avocado and mash it with our desired heat level of spicy serrano chilies, cilantro, white onion, pico de gallo, and lime juice. Served in a molcajete with a heaping pile of tortilla chips, this is what I thought avocados were made for... and nothing else.

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I moved away from Los Angeles in 1999 and returned in 2008, which was when I bought a home in the city's Silver Lake neighborhood. During those years away from Los Angeles, I had lived in Boston, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, and New York (which meant that my palette had grown beyond El Torito (not by much) and had little contact with the grand dame avocados of California).

The Full Monty Salad (or Sandwich)
The Full Monty Salad (or Sandwich)

The home has many great qualities, but a key selling point was the two large avocado trees that inhabit the front yard. When I arrived in May of 2008, the trees were pregnant with an obscure avocado variety with thin skin and a rich flavor that were just out of my 5’4” reach. The internet informed me that I’d increase my success rate if I bought a Fruit Picker and, two days later, I was easily reaching to grab those avocados.

As I put my catch into brown bags, I realized I was welcoming a new decade of living in California, and finding contemporary ways to sneak avocados into my food—plays on avocado toast, crispy rice salads, a smoothie with condensed milk and cardamom, and even the recipe here, which is based in part after the most popular sandwich at Sqirl, The Woodstock. The great thing is that this recipe is meant to be used as a salad you can fix easily and keep in your fridge—or put between two toasty slices of bread. Either way, it’s delicious. (Watch the video above to see how to prep it!)

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Nostalgia is a real thing, though—I still dream of El Torito guacamole.

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The Full Monty Salad (or Sandwich)

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar Jessica Koslow
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Makes a big bowl of salad and 1/2 cup schmear

The Salad

  • 2 cups shredded beets
  • 1 cup cooked, shredded chicken
  • 2/3 cup cooked lentils
  • 4 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/3 teaspoon harissa spice
  • 1 pinch cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup walnut oil
  • 1/2 California avocado, cubed
  • 4 mint leaves, for garnish

The Schmear and Assembly

  • 1/4 cup sheep's milk yogurt
  • 1/2 California avocado
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 pinch salt
Go to Recipe

If there's something Californians know well, it's avocados. We partnered with California Avocados to tap 3 different chefs and cookbook writers to share stories and recipes that are dear to them.

Tags: california avocados