Dining In

Hola Avocado!

By Nancy Finch, Food Columnist   

After a long drive through the desert of Coahuilla, a state in Northeastern Mexico, the courtyard of Posada Santa Isabel, in Parras, was charming and welcoming.

Avocado and pomegranate trees line the outdoor dining area. The long tables held generous bowls of guacamole.  Overhead avocados, shiny and green, hung from the trees. The guacamole would have been enough for me, it was so delicious. But soon, platter after platter arrived of intriguing concoctions, all served with stacks of homemade tortillas that we later watched the cooks expertly make. Cold Mexican beer quenched our thirst from the drive to this small town built around a desert oasis.

We were dining at the inn that belongs to our daughter’s-in-law grandmother. Her name is Isabel and the inn is named for her.

I don’t know where I thought avocados came from, but seeing them hanging over our heads as we savored the lovely fresh guacamole was a new experience for us visiting Americans. That was a treat that will be long-remembered. No wonder our Rosa has had such trouble adjusting to the prices of avocados, a staple in her diet, when she was used to such plenty in her country. She can zip the skin off an avocado and whack the pit so it is easily removed. Despite several lessons, I haven’t mastered the art.

But thanks to the avocados overhead at the Mexican inn, I learned something else — that avocados can stay on the tree for months without ripening and only begin to ripen after they are picked — a great boon for those who grow and ship — a continuous, non-seasonal supply of avocados!

Until a few years ago, most avocados consumed in the U.S. came from California and Florida. California avocados, like the Haas avocados from Mexico, are preferred for flavor and buttery texture. Florida avocados are larger and not quite as flavorful, but less expensive.

The guacamole recipe we are offering is from a Brazilian cook whose recipes were given to me by Rosa’s father.

Pictured is a perfect summertime ‘no-cook’ dinner. With leftover rice and leftover chicken, you have the basis for “Mexican Rice and Bean Avocado Salad.” The rice and chicken, of course, don’t have to be left over and, actually, it is quite good without the chicken. Avocados crown this cold summertime supper. Don’t leave them out!

Avocados 101

bullet

  To ripen avocados, place in a paper bag with a banana or tomato.

bullet

  To prevent darkening, sprinkle lemon or lime juice on the flesh.

bullet

  Leave the pit in a avocado half to slow darkening. Cover the surface with plastic wrap and press out all air.

Valeria Vieira Sisti’s Guacamole

Ingredients:

bullet

2 ripe avocados

bullet

Juice of 1 lime

bullet

1 small onion, finely chopped

bullet

1 t salt

bullet

Boiling water

bullet

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

bullet

2 red jalapeno or Fresno chilies, seeded and finely chopped

bullet

Dash Tabasco sauce

bullet

2 T fresh cilantro leaves

bullet

Salt and ground pepper, to taste

Directions: Mash the avocado flesh slightly, using a fork. Add the lime juice and mix. Place the onion in a colander or sieve, sprinkle with the salt and let stand 10 minutes. Pour boiling water over the onions and drain well. Pat dry with paper towels. Add the onions, tomatoes, chilies, Tabasco sauce and fresh cilantro to the avocado mixture. Mix well. Season to taste with salt, pepper and Tabasco as desired.

Mexican Rice and Bean Avocado Salad

Ingredients:

bullet

3 cups cooked rice

bullet

15-oz. can black beans, drained, rinsed and patted dry

bullet

1 cup chopped fresh tomato

bullet

1 cup shredded lettuce

bullet

1⁄2 cup chopped cilantro leaves

bullet

1⁄2 cup prepared oil and vinegar salad dressing, divided

bullet

2 cups cooked chicken cubes, optional

bullet

2 ripe avocados, halved, pitted, peeled and cut into cubes or slices

Directions: Combine rice, beans, tomato, lettuce, cilantro and half of the salad dressing. Toss. Arrange on a platter lined with lettuce, if desired. In the same bowl, combine chicken, avocados and remaining half of the dressing. Spoon over rice salad.

 

Home ] Up ] Food For Thought ] Cover Story ] Reader Recipes ] Say Cheese ] Down Home ] [ Dining In ] Editorial ]