I think it’s time to revoke my status as a salad-hater. I don’t think it’s a true statement anymore. Given the number of salads I’ve recently posted and the several I have waiting in the wings, it’s fair to assume I’m a salad-lover at this point. But I don’t have love for just any salad. A salad must come with a side of naughty to mask a bit of the nice. I’m not proud of this childish approach to eating my greens. But if onion rings can make me feel a touch more enthusiastic about spinach so be it. And this Avocado BLT Salad with Ranch Onion Rings made me very excited about consuming leafy greens and I think it will do the same for you.
I must confess something. I like onion rings more than fries. Yes, I know, this is probably blasphemy to a few of you. Now, obviously, I love french fries because who on this planet doesn’t? But if there is a choice between fries and onion rings, I’m going to at least pause and consider my options. If I’m eating a burger, onion rings are the instant choice. Actually, they are the winner with everything except fish. Fish and chips belong together, you can’t break them up – it’s cruel.
When I was growing up, my mom would take me shopping for my birthday and we’d always go to A&W for lunch. This post is not sponsored by the way but if A&W is reading this – holler at you girl. We went because we love Teen Burgers and fast food was the ultimate treat in my household (scarcity has that effect on people). But mostly we went for the onion rings. They are, to this day, my favorite onion rings of all time bar none. So yeah, my love of onion rings runs deep and tangled with nostalgia.
Now, it wasn’t lost on me that I was making onion rings to accompany a salad, so some restraint was necessary. That’s why you’ll find these ranch onion rings are baked, not fried. And I must mention they’re still crispy as all hell. It’s the double dredge method and the addition of cornstarch that really enhances their crispiness. And the addition of either homemade or packaged ranch dressing is all the seasoning these rings require.
Okay, with the slightly sinful out of the way, let’s talk about the downright evil – thick-cut bacon. I love using thick-cut bacon in a salad because it never gets lost in the mix. It’s always prominent and toothsome, so you never miss it. I also love using the oven method when I cook bacon. It cuts down on splatter and, in this instance, the bacon and onion rings can cook alongside each other, so the hot components of the salad reach their optimal temperature at the same time.
Now, let’s tackle the virtuous. I don’t like lettuce-only salads. I have nothing against lettuce. Frankly, it would have to have more of a personality to make an impact on me one way or the other. Sure, lettuce is crisp, refreshing, and a great palette-cleanser. But in my opinion, salads need a bit more heft and a bit more texture than lettuce can provide on its own. So with that in mind, I added baby spinach and two heads of bibb lettuce to this Avocado BLT Salad and it was a better salad for it.
Rounding out the veg is heirloom tomatoes and avocado, of course. Now, this salad is the main event. We’re not dealing with a side dish here. So I added four smallish heirloom tomatoes (that I spent close to 10 bucks on) and added 2 avocados. In case you weren’t aware, this is what one would call a “big ass salad”, so don’t skimp on any ingredient. We want to blow minds.
Finally, we have the component that ties this Avocado BLT Salad together – the dressing. I went with a Honey Dijon dressing because I’ve always been partial to honey mustard on a BLT. Now, I classed things up a bit by making that mustard Dijon and adding a good dose of lemon. But the final salad had all the nostalgia I was looking for. Did you ever think you’d call a salad comfort food? Neither did I.
So that’s everything you need to know about this Avocado BLT Salad with Ranch Onion Rings. This is a salad worth eating and repeating. Seriously, if you’re a recovering salad hater looking to change your mind this is a very good place to start.
Avocado BLT Salad with Ranch Onion Rings
- 2 13×18" baking sheets
Honey Dijon Dressing
- 1 clove garlic minced
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard heaping
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ lemon juiced
Avocado BLT Salad
- 1 large sweet onion cut into 1" slices, seperated into rings
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup cornstarch
- 4 large eggs beaten
- 1½ cups whole-wheat breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp ranch seasoning** either storebought or homemade
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 8 slices thick-cut bacon
- 2 heads bibb lettuce*** washed, dried, and torn into bite-sized pieces
- 142g (5oz) baby spinach
- 4 small heirloom tomatoes cut into half-moons
- 2 avocados pitted and cut into wedges
- wild violets for serving, optional
For the Dressing
- Place all the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and whisk to combine. Cover and transfer to the fridge. Chill until ready to serve.
For the Salad
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line two 13×18" baking sheets with parchment paper and set them aside.
- Place the flour and cornstarch in a wide, shallow bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside. Beat the eggs in a seperated bowl and set aside. And in another bowl, whisk to combine the breadcrumbs and ranch seasoning.
- Dip an onion ring into the flour and cornstarch mixture before coating it in the egg. Return the ring to the flour/cornstarch mixture and once again dip in the egg. Toss the onion ring in the breadcrumb mixture and transfer to one of the baking sheets. Repeat with the remaining onion rings. And drizzle the breaded rings with olive oil.
- Place the bacon in an even layer on the second baking sheet. Place both the bacon and the onion rings in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, then flip the onion rings and bake for 10 minutes more. You don't have to flip the bacon – it should be crisp after 20 minutes.
- Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towel and let cool slightly. When cool enough to handle rip the bacon into bite-sized pieces.
- Place the lettuce and spinach in a large bowl. Add the Honey Dijon dressing and toss to coat. Top the salad with the bacon, tomatoes, avocado, onion rings, and wild violets, if using. Serve immediately.