When most people think avocado, they think of the cool and creamy dip guacamole. And though guacamole is irresistibly delicious with a bag of crispy tortilla chips on Superbowl Sunday, there are a veritable variety of other avocado-centric things you can do with this tender fruit to enjoy all year round.
THE ORIGIN OF AVOCADOS
Avocados are a native fruit to Mexico, Central America and Guam. They are grown on trees, in subtropical environments and have been cultivated since 900 A.D. Currently, they are grown in California, Mexico, Chile, Dominican Republic and New Zealand. Because they are harvested in many locations, they are available year-round in the United States, but are best between February and September (these avocados will be from California).
Avocados are nutritious fruits, even considered a super food. Although they have a high amount of fat (about 21 grams per fruit), the fat is mostly “good for you” monounsaturated fat, like the fat found in nuts and olive oil. Avocados are also rich in potassium, vitamins B, E, and K and they have the highest fiber content of any fruit.
PICK THE PERFECT AVOCADO
When you plan on eating your avocados determines how soft or hard you want them to be when purchased. If you want to eat the avocado the same day you buy it, opt for a darker green, almost black, skin that feels soft when gently pressed — it should not feel mushy, which is a sign of overripeness. If you have a few days for the avocado to ripen, then opt for an avocado that is brighter green and feels firm — but not rock hard — when gently squeezed. Firm avocados will take about four or five days to ripen, so be sure to plan in advance. To quickly ripen an avocado, place them in a brown paper bag with an apple and allow them to sit at room temperature for two or three days.
HOW TO PEEL AN AVOCADO
Preparing an avocado is may seem challenging, but is actually a simple technique easy to master. Start by using a long sharp knife to slice the avocado lengthwise around the one large seed. Gently rotate the halves and pull them apart.To remove the seed, gently slide a spoon under it and lift it up. You can also hold the avocado with one hand and gently tap the seed with the sharp edge of the knife — tapping it just hard enough to insert the edge into the seed — and then turn the knife 45 degrees, which will dislodge the seed from the flesh.To remove the skin, carefully scoop out the flesh with a large spoon. If you are planning on using the avocado in a diced form, hold an avocado half in one hand and use a knife to score the flesh — without cutting through the peel — then use a large spoon to scoop out the diced avocado or you can turn the peel inside out and use the knife to gently slice the diced avocado from the peel.
If you are not using the avocado right away, sprinkle it with citrus juice or white vinegar to prevent browning.
All recipes courtesy of the Hass Avocado Board
Hass Avocado Hash Browns
Makes 6 servings
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 (8-ounce) avocado, diced
1 1/2 pounds frozen hash browns with onion
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
6 tablespoons sour cream for garnish
3 tablespoons prepared tomato salsa for garnish
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro for garnishDirections:
1. Gently mix lemon juice with avocado and reserve.
2. In a large frying pan, cook potatoes in hot oil, turning frequently, until tender and lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
3. Gently fold avocado into hash browns and continue cooking until well browned, about 3 minutes.
4. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon sour cream and 1/2 tablespoon salsa.
5. Sprinkle each with 1/2 teaspoon cilantro.Avocado Ranch Burgers with Smoked Cheddar
Makes 4 servingsIngredients:
1 (1-ounce) packet ranch dip mix
1 pound lean ground beef
1/3 cup minced red onion
1/4 cup barbecue sauce
1 ripe avocado, peeled, seeded, mashed
4 slices sourdough bread
3/4 cup shredded smoked cheddar cheese
4 romaine lettuce leaves
8 tomato slicesDirections:
1. Place 1/4 of the dry ranch mix in a small bowl amd set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together the remaining ranch mix, ground beef, onion and barbecue sauce and mix well.
3. Form into 4 large flat patties and grill over medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes per side or until cooked through.
4. Top each with about 3 tablespoons shredded cheese while still warm.
5. Grill bread slices until lightly toasted.
6. Add mashed avocado to remaining dry ranch mix and mix well.
7. To assemble, top each bread slice with a lettuce leaf, 2 tomato slices and a burger patty.
8. Add a heaping spoonful of seasoned avocado.Avocado Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes 12 servingsCupcake ingredients:
1 cup sugar
1/2 Cup butter
1 cup mashed avocado
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup chopped walnutsFrosting ingredients:
2 (8-ounces each) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extractDirections:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and grease a 12-cup muffin tin.
2. Cream sugar and butter, add the 2 eggs and avocado and mix well.
3. Add the baking soda to the buttermilk and add to the batter.
3. Add spices to flour and then add flour mixture to the batter mixing well.
4. Dust walnuts lightly with flour and add to the batter.
5. Pour batter into muffin tins and bake for 35 to 40 minutes.
6. Top with frosting (see frosting preparation).Frosting preparation:
1. In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy.
2. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners’ sugar.
3. Frost the cupcakes and store leftover frosting in the refrigerator.
Here a few other avocado recipes to enjoy year-round: