By Barbara Beltrami
For those of you who managed to get away for a midwinter vacation, chances are that if it was some place warm, the avocado figured into your diet. For those of you who remained home, chances are that right about now you’re fantasizing and dreaming about that season when you are in a warm climate and the avocado and other summery staples will figure into your daily fare.
I was recently in Los Angeles where movie stars are celestial, traffic is hellish and avocados seem to take top billing on every restaurant menu. Not just guacamole, but avocado salads and smoothies, tortillas, tacos and toasts, pestos, panini and pies, melts and mousses. It’s no wonder that the avocado — with 240 calories, no cholesterol, lots of fiber and vitamins and a rich creamy texture — is so popular with those health-conscious Californians.
Here are my versions of some avocado dishes I enjoyed.
Creamy Avocado Sauce
YIELD: Makes 2 to 4 servings
½ avocado, peeled, pitted and cut into chunks
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
½ tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
¼ small chipotle pepper, chopped
Coarse salt and black pepper, to taste
In bowl of electric food processor, puree all ingredients together until silky smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Serve with fish, poultry, burritos, tacos, burgers or chips.
Avocado, Cheddar and Chicken Melt
YIELD: Makes 4 servings
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup ketchup
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 grilled or sauteed half-pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 ripe avocados
4 whole wheat or multigrain English muffins, halved and lightly toasted
8 slices heirloom tomato
8 large thin slices cheddar cheese, about ¼-inch thick
Salt and pepper, to taste
In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise, ketchup, scallions, parsley and cilantro. Cut the chicken breast into four even pieces, then horizontally into 8 thin slices. Peel the avocados, remove the pits and slice each one into quarters. Preheat broiler. Meanwhile, spread the mayonnaise mixture evenly onto each toasted muffin half; top with a slice of chicken, then the avocado, tomato slices and finally the cheese. Place in broiling pan and broil three inches from heat until cheese melts, about one and a half minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve with Caesar salad and chips or fries.
Seafood and Avocado Salad
YIELD: Makes 6 servings
8 large shrimp, peeled, deveined and cooked
1 pound cooked lobster meat, coarsely chopped
½ pound sea scallops, cooked and sliced
½ pound calamari, cooked and sliced
One celery rib, thinly sliced
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice of one lemon
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
4 ripe avocados, peeled and pit removed
One head butter or Bibb lettuce, washed, dried and torn into bite-size pieces
2 cups baby arugula
In a large bowl combine the shrimp, lobster meat, scallops, calamari, celery, olive oil, half the lemon juice, salt and pepper. Slice avocados, spread out on a plate and sprinkle lightly with remaining lemon juice to keep them from turning brown. Discard any extra lemon juice that collects in bottom of plate or save for another use. Line a serving plate with lettuce and arugula; place avocado slices around edges, then turn seafood mixture onto center of plate. Serve immediately with a dry white wine and a good crunchy baguette.