It was almost embarrassing how giddy I was about the rows and rows of avocado trees that lined the slope at the house I stayed at in California. I became known as the girl who eats avocado for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.. What can I say? I love their wrinkled skin that hides a soft, citron flesh. The taste is like grassy butter that slathers beautifully on toast or is great eaten alone with a squeeze of lemon plucked from the tree nearby.
I justified my avocado binging by saying I was making up for lost time. You see I wasn’t always an avocado fanatic. My infatuation began with guacamole and now I’m perfectly happy with an avocado and a spoon. As an adult I can now appreciate all the health benefits that comes with eating avocados. They are packed with protein, help to regulate blood sugar levels and protect against many types of cancer. They are indeed high in fat but it’s the sort of fat your body needs. It’s the sort of fat that makes your skin glow, your hair healthy and can be a nutrient dense replacement for butter in many recipes.
An avocado is in its prime when a soft nudge against the dark skin yields slightly. It’s neither too firm nor too soft. The exterior is uniform in color and if you carefully take a peek under the little cap where the stem was once connected it should look bright and green. If it is brown than the avocado will be brown too. If you want to speed up the ripening, store the avocados in a closed brown paper bag. Throw a banana in the bag to really get things ripening quickly.
As I walked through those avocado trees and stood there starry eyed at those branches dripping from the weight of the fruit I couldn’t help but envy California and the sun that makes avocados so abundant. But perhaps I wouldn’t appreciate them as I do now because for me, they are a luxury and one that I don’t take for granted. So when an avocado is in the kitchen I do my best to make sure it remains the star of the dish.
Here are a few ideas to make an avocado shine in your kitchen:
Grapefruit Guacamole: Dice two ripe avocados and mix with diced segmented grapefruit. Add a squeeze of lime and 1/4 cup or so of finely diced red onion. Add salt then taste and adjust.
Avocado Salad with Orange, Olives and Mint: Serve sliced avocado along with peeled and sliced oranges. Top with pitted and chopped kalamata olives and garnish with fresh mint. Serve alongside grilled fish.
Avocado Ice Cream: Because of the fat content, avocados turn into a creamy ice cream. Blend avocado with coconut milk (and cream if you’d like), add a bit of sugar, a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lime. Freeze in your ice cream machine or turn it into popsicles. Avocados also make smoothies taste like a rich milkshake.
Chilled Avocado Soup
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth (or more)
2 tablespoons lime juice
salt and pepper
Blend the avocado with the broth, lime juice and a pinch of salt. Taste and add more salt and pepper to your liking.
Garnish with cilantro, diced mango, diced onion, sliced melon, chopped tomatoes or peppers.
Serve chilled as an appetizer or first course.