I love avocados. LOVE. They are creamy and buttery-flavored and delicious. A salad is great, but a salad with avocado slices is a real treat. A turkey sandwich hits the spot, but a turkey sandwich with avocado is fine dining. Avocado elevates everyday dishes to a level of decadence. I love to make sushi, (vegetable rolls, mostly) and avocado is the highlight, for me. It’s fantastic diced up and added to black beans, diced tomatoes and finely chopped red onion dressed with oil and apple cider vinegar.
When you’re buying avocados for immediate use, it’s best to choose fruits that are entirely black, but aren’t mushy. You don’t want an over-ripened avocado, they are brown and yellow on the inside, and they don’t slice well or hold their shape. It would be like trying to slice up a warm stick of butter. You should avoid the avocados whose skins are green or still have green on them. These will not be ready for immediate use. Unripened avocados are too firm, and sometimes fibrous, making them difficult to remove from the peel and difficult to slice. They also don’t taste creamy or buttery. They’re sort of bitter and tough. If you want to buy and use an avocado the same day, choose the one that is black and gives slightly when you squeeze.
If you’re buying avocados to use later in the week, buy the green or slightly green one, depending on how soon you’d like to use it, and let it ripen at home. A great trick for speeding up the ripening process is to put your green avocados in a paper bag and put the bag in a cabinet. The lack of light will ripen it quickly. (This is great if you can’t find a perfectly ripe avocado, but you need to use it tomorrow.) Please do not store uncut avocados in the fridge, that’s the best way to zap the flavor right out of them. (Likewise, if you have tomatoes in your fridge that haven’t been cut yet, we will wait while you go remove them and put them where they belong- on the counter. The flavor of tomatoes is greatly decreased by refrigeration.)
(Polite Hold Music…………..)
Now that you’ve rescued your tomatoes, a good rule of thumb is that only the vegetables that are being chilled at the grocery store when you buy them need to be refrigerated at home. There are some exceptions: carrots and celery are not always chilled at the store, but they will turn rubbery and dry out quickly if you don’t keep them in the crisper drawer of your fridge. Cucumbers won’t last long out of the fridge, either. Lettuce will wilt. These are usually chilled at the store, but I’ve seen a few produce departments that keep these items at room temp.
If you’re unsure how to cut and slice an avocado, (and it can be tricky) here are some tips: Using a sharp knife, cut all the way around the fruit, lengthwise. Twist both sides around to separate. Hit the pit directly with your knife so that it sinks into it, twist your knife to remove the pit. Using a paring knife, slice or dice the fruit while it is still in the peel (without slicing through the peel). Scoop all of it out with a table spoon or serving spoon. It’s very difficult to remove from the peel and THEN slice or dice it without smashing it and loosing half of it on your hands and cutting board.
The greatest concoction thus far created that utilizes the avocado is undoubtedly guacamole. Good guacamole is a thing of beauty. (Transversely, bad guacamole is among the more disappointing letdowns in life.) But good news!! It is very easy to make, and requires no cooking! Made with all fresh ingredients, it’s always a crowd-pleaser, and you will be the hero for making it. Its a great go-to appetizer for the cookout or party you’ve been invited to, and people will be talking about your fantastic guacamole for a long time.
It is amusing to me how often people are surprised that sour cream is not an ingredient in guacamole. But I think it’s wonderful to realize that something that only contains healthy, fresh ingredients can taste like it MUST have something really bad for you in it.
2 ripe avocados
1 roma tomato, finely diced (or 1/2 of a slicing tomato, finely diced)
1/3 medium red onion, finely diced
3/4 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
1/4 tsp garlic powder (you can use a pressed clove of garlic, my stomach is sensitive to garlic-heavy foods, so I generally use garlic powder in place of fresh garlic)
Juice and zest of 1/2 lime
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste.
Combine all ingredients and mash with fork. Avocado should be lumpy, not smooth. Serve immediately with tortilla chips.
If you make guacamole ahead of time, it will brown quickly. Refrigerating it will not really preserve it, and it will start to get runny. It is definitely best to make the guacamole just before serving. If you need to take it to an event, just take the ingredients prepared and combine and mash them when you get there.
Good luck and enjoy your tasty guacamole! Give it a try, even if you think you won’t like it. Let’s stretch our culinary tastes this week!
What is your favorite dish to take to a party? Is there an appetizer you’re known for? Share your recipe in the comments section with all of us!