Avocado

Avocado

By
Anna Bergenström, Fanny Bergenström
Contains
24 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781742702070
Photographer
Fanny Bergenström

Nature’s perfect fast food

A perfectly ripe avocado is one of the best things there is. Its smooth texture and nutty flavour make it one of our favourite ingredients. An avocado is a small meal on its own, turned into a delicacy just by adding a touch of sea salt and a few drops of vinegar and oil. In our family, we eat avocado in one way or another nearly every day. The kids mash it on their breakfast bread or tortillas, and we enjoy it in salads with crisp lettuce leaves, on toasted sourdough with sliced tomatoes and fresh coriander, or simply drizzled with a bit of sesame and soy dressing. The avocado is such an excellent standby in the kitchen, and with a few ripe avocados on hand you can always prepare a delicious snack or salad within minutes. Add some rocket leaves, crusty bread and sliced salami or jamón serrano and you’ll have scrumptious sandwiches for unexpected guests. Or make an easy avocado salad with crumbled soft goat’s cheese and toasted pine nuts, as pictured here on the left. The creamy avocado flesh is also perfect for flavourful salsas and such – all it needs is to be cut in half, diced, mashed and seasoned.

What’s more, aside from being so delicious, this savoury fruit is actually very wholesome. Avocados contain high amounts of the best possible fat – monounsaturated fat – which is beneficial to both the heart and the arteries. The avocado is one of the healthiest fruits around and, being loaded with vitamin E, folate, potassium and magnesium, it is considered one of the ‘super foods’. In other words, an avocado not only tastes great, it is also good for you.

There are many varieties of avocado, but only three original species within the family. The Mexican avocado is quite small with smooth, green, purple or almost black skin. A larger variety from Guatemala has thicker, pebbled skin that turns blackish-green when the fruit matures. The West Indian variety is the largest, yielding round, light-green fruits that can weigh up to a kilogram. Common types found in stores are Hass, Fuerte, Ettinger and Reed.

A ripe avocado should feel firm yet slightly soft, and yield to the gentle squeeze of your hand. Unripe avocados can be placed in a bowl with some apples, as the ethylene gas they give off will speed up the ripening process. Alternatively, put unripe avocados in a paper bag for a few days – the trapped ethylene gas will hasten the ripening process.

To peel and cut: A good way to dice an avocado is to cut the ripe fruit in half lengthwise, remove the stone, then gently slide a tablespoon between the flesh and the skin to carefully scoop out the flesh. That way you will have a nice, neat avocado half to slice or dice. If using the avocado in a salad, the easiest thing is to simply scoop out small chunks of avocado flesh directly into the bowl.

A squeeze of lemon or lime juice prevents the avocado flesh from darkening as quickly as it normally would when exposed to air. Leaving the stone with the avocado pieces in a salad or salsa is also said to have the same effect.

A brief history of the avocado

The avocado, Persea americana, is, botanically speaking, a berry from a large tree belonging to the same family as bay laurel and cinnamon. These days avocados are cultivated in many parts of the world, but the fruit is thought to have originated in Mexico, where the avocado was very significant to the Aztec people. They named it ahuáctl (testicle), which in turn gave rise to our modern ‘avocado’. Archaeological findings have uncovered avocado remains in Mexican tombs dating back more than 7000 years, yet it took a long time before the avocado spread to the rest of the world.

Featured Recipes in this Chapter

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