Holy Guacamole, It's Avocado Season!
Although people up north may be enjoying apple picking and leaves turning at this time of year, here in South Florida we are celebrating avocado season.
For those of us lucky enough to have a tree of our own, or generous friends with trees, we are faced with the question of just how many things we can do with this fabulous fruit.
A single tree can produce as many as 500 avocados per year, and because they cannot self-pollinate, trees must grow close together while the fruit grows in pairs.
An Aztec symbol of love and lust, the avocado was considered to be such an aphrodisiac that some maidens were kept inside during the growing season, so they could resist temptation.
Although the shape of an avocado is sometimes compared to a woman's uterus, the Aztec word for avocado, ahuacatl, roughly translates to testicle.
Because avocados are so rich in healthy fats, oils and folic acid, the Aztecs weren't far off the mark in believing them to aid in fertility.
Folic acid supplements are not only given to women who are trying to conceive or are pregnant, but a lack of folic acid in anyone can cause anemia.
Low folate levels have also been linked to both depression and dementia.
Avocados not only contain aroung 90 mcgs of folate per cup, but they also contain vitamin k and dietary fiber. Both vitamin k and fiber are important for heart health.
Recent studies have shown that avocados can also help to lower bad cholesterol as well as increase good cholesterol.
If those aren't reason enough to incorporate avocados into your diet, then I'll give you another.
Avocados are low carb, ketogenic, paleo, whole30, and vegan!
During this growing season, my friend, Chantalle, has been delivering bags of large, creamy avocados to me. (Thanks, Chanti!) I have, in turn, been sharing with Laura and Kenton.
Even with sharing, I have had enough avocado not only to add to my salads or spread on toast, but to experiment a little with.
Before I was allowed to play, however, Remy got to them first.
"Avocados! Can I make guacamole?"
Forever on a mission to encourage Remy to eat healthfully, of course I said yes.
Remy also wanted me to film it for her burgeoning YouTube channel, so I did that as well. You can watch it here:
Guacamole, as you may or may not know, can cause heated arguments.
Purists believe a good guac should be simple and never contain tomatoes.
I agree, as does Remy.
For me, tomatoes water down the creamy richness I want in my guac. Remy just flat out hates tomatoes.
Our tastes aside, I'm a firm believer of doing what you like in your own kitchen.
Remy just added lime juice, cilantro, salt, pepper and garlic powder to her guacamole.
If I were preparing it, chopped onions would be a must.
And although I don't like tomatoes in guacamole, I love them diced into an avocado salad with onions, cilantro, lime, salt, pepper and olive or lemon oil.
This salad duplicates, as best I can, the one I had growing up at a restaurant called El Ranchito.
A converted house turned into a family restaurant, we dined at El Ranchito on special occasions.
Mom always ordered cheese enchiladas, which were bathed in a bright, bold red sauce.
To this day I have yet to taste an enchilada as good.
As for the avocado salad, I tried many times to duplicate the taste.
With no internet and no knowledge of the magic properties of cilantro and lime, it was a hopeless cause until I moved to New York and briefly worked at the Tex-Mex restaurant, El Rio Grande.
There I learned not only the secret to a good avocado salad, but the trick of mixing a little avocado in with other things to make a delicious sauce.
The restaurant also had what they dubbed, "green sauce," which was made with avocados, tomatllos and sour cream.
God help any server who called the green sauce guacamole. It was enough to make the manager go into an apoplectic fit.
Years later Marty and I traveled to Houston and discovered Ninfa's.
Not only did Ninfa's green sauce taste remarkably like El Rio Grande's sauce, Ninfa Laurenzo, the restaurant's proprietor, is credited with creating it.
With a little research, I was able to find the recipe. This is divine served with warm tortilla chips or as an accompaniment to Tex-Mex or Mexican dishes.
Green sauce and Remy's guacamole aside, there was still some avocado experimenting I wanted to undertake.
First up was the avocado chocolate pudding I've been hearing so much about.
Remy gave it a try and made a face. "Tastes like pickles," she said.
While I don't think it tasted like pickles, I can't say I'm a fan.
Could be because I cobbled together a recipe based on the ones I searched. Following one exactly may have yielded better results. But I doubt it.
There was just something about the savory pushing through the sweet that I couldn't get past.
Next I tried an avocado Alfredo sauce.
A simple sauce made in the blender, I turned it into more of a pesto flavor by adding basil.
It was fantastic. This is a dish that can really be made to suit your tastes.
Because I'm trying to adapt a lower carb diet, I served mine on store bought zoodles - zucchini spirals.
For Sam I added a little heavy cream for increased richness, and served it on the king of pasta, bucatini. He loved it.
If I had had pine nuts in the house, I would have toasted some and garnished with that. I think softened and sauteed sun-dried tomatoes would bring a delicious umami to the dish as well.
Next up was an old favorite of mine. Shrimp salad.
For the ultimate shrimp salad, Gulf shrimp boiled in the Cajun fashion can't be beat.
But since many of us aren't fortunate enough to live in Louisiana, I compromised.
Using cooked shrimp from my grocers seafood department, I added cayenne pepper to the salad to give it more flavor.
You could also use Old Bay seasoning, if you're a fan, or a combination of mayo and Creole mustard if you're lucky enough to have some in the house.
As with the Alfredo recipe, shrimp salad lends itself to your personal tastes. And like the Alfredo, it's a quick, easy and healthy meal to put together.
Avocados make the perfect vessel for shrimp salad, adding a rich and creamy texture.
I've yet to try avocado fries, which I have no doubt I'll love.
Fat on fat. How could any food lover not be thrilled?
As for the avocado frostings, whipped creams and other sweet recipes out there, I think I'll pass for now.
There's one thing I love to do with avocados, however, that I haven't mentioned.
That is to simply cut them up and eat as is. With a little sprinkling of Maldon sea salt if you want to be fancy, or some plain salt if not.
What do you think is the best way to eat an avocado? I'd love to hear about it. Please drop me a note in the comment section below.
3 tablespoons celery, finely diced
1/8 teaspoon salt
Sprinkle of cayenne pepper
1 cup of shrimp, chopped into thirds
Sprinkle of black pepper
2 tablsepoons of mayonnaise
Paprika to garnish, if desired
Combine everything except paprika in a medium bowl.
Fill halved avocado with the mixture.
Top with a sprinkle of paprika, if desired.
1/4 scant cup basil
1/2 generous cup avocado
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 small clove garlic, pressed
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Blend ingredients on high until smooth. Mix into pasta or zoodles and serve topped with grated cheese.
*For a richer dish add a couple of tablespoons of heavy cream.
*For a vegan version top with a parmesan vegan cheese.