Thursday, September 1, 2016

Avocado Worship with Reckless Abandon

I absolutely adore avocados. My love began in a simple way. I was in heaven to just slice a whole one into halves, remove the pit and fill each cavity with balsamic vinegar; then devour it, still standing up. When time allowed for a more civilized method I would mash their flesh with salt, pepper and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, then mound it onto thin slices of crusty bread. Alternately, this may be loaded onto nearly ready baked potato skins and finished in a hot oven to warm through. YUM.

                                                                                Cream of Avocado Soup

With a little experimentation based on French cooking I learned that avocados could be used in many more sophisticated ways. They could be composed into delicious sauces, soups and mousses. Their unique flavor only needs a light seasoning to be enhanced. Avocado halves would become containers for salads, usually crab or shrimp, then drizzled with a light vinaigrette. My own cravings led me to fill avocado halves with a crab-cream cheese kind of dip mixture and bake until browned and puffy. The unctuous texture of hot avocado is beyond description...

                                                                      Salmon with Avocado Cream Sauce

We find that the uses for avocado in the regions of Mexico and California are quite different. Take guacamole for example, when avocados are are paired with coriander and hot chili pepper you would expect that these strong flavors would compete with their delicate character. But surprisingly enough avocado, like butter, has an affinity for assertive ingredients as well as subtle ones.

Linda Maintanis


Avocados seem designed for quick easy dishes because they do not require cooking. Indeed, many preparations where they appear are so simple that there is no need to give precise instructions for. The popular Italian first course of mozzarella and tomato with olive oil and basil is occasionally embellished with avocado to yield a red, white and green salad. In California chopped avocado is sometimes scattered on pizza as a topping. Mashed avocado offers a refreshing change from butter, cream cheese or mayonnaise and has the advantages of being low in saturated fat and cholesterol free.


                                                                       Avocado Rolls with "Zucchini" Rice

The best flavor of avocado is Haas, which has a thick pebbly skin that turns purplish black when the fruit is ripe. This is the variety that is most common in supermarkets. When these are out of season another good choice, although more difficult to find, is the Fuerte, easily recognized for it's bright green, smooth skin.


A ripe avocado should give gently to light pressure; only then it should be used.. If an avocado is firm, leave it at room temperature to ripen; it will do so more quickly if put into a paper bag. Once an avocado is ripe it can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days. For an avocado to keep it's fresh flavor and beautiful color it should be peeled and cut only a short time before serving. If a dish containing avocado must be made ahead, cover it's surface tightly with plastic wrap to prevent discoloring. Sliced avocados can be sprinkled with lemon or lime juice to preserve their golden-green color, but depending on variety may still start to discolor after about a half hour. (Jeff Smith, the Frugal Gourmet, insists that garnishing your dish with the whole pit will retard the process of color change!)