HOLY MOLY GUACAMOLE First developed in Mexico, guacamole is a hugely popular dip, spread or salad ingredient.
We are in that time of year when we get to enjoy many rich, ripe fruit and vegetables, benefitting from more sun. Avocado pears are fruits, originally from Central and South Americas, that grow on trees, with a hard, dark, wrinkly skin, yet containing the most softest, almost buttery, lushest creamy green flesh inside.
An avocado’s smoothness, fat and nutritional content makes it an appealing partner in many food dishes, particularly salads and pastas, crab and fish. Slice them in half by cutting the skin and flesh lengthways in half all the way down to the large inedible stone in the centre. Pull apart the two halves, and pop out the stone with a knife or fork. You can then scrape out the flesh from the skin using a spoon.
Avoid under-ripe avocados whose light-green flesh is too hard and not enjoyable, as well as over-ripe ones where the flesh is too mushy and has turned dark in places. The trick is to find a good ripe avocado, still firm, but with a touch of give if pressed gently with the fingertips. Because the customer market for avocados can be unpredictable and ripeness of the actual fruit can be unstable, the shops often find it difficult to get right all the time, so buyers beware! It’s also good to be aware that the farming and growing of avocados is an environmentally sensitive issue, due to high amounts of water required, as well as CO2 emissions given off.
When this fruit is ripe and ready to eat there are many recipe variations to use it in. To get your imagination working, why not try: avocado pasta with peas and mint; seared tuna with avocado puree and apple salad; cannelloni pasta with crab, avocado, and basil; avocado, salmon and rocket salad; simple smashed (mushed with a fork) avocado on toast triangles.
This simple dish – a blend of avocado flesh with salt, fresh garlic, oil, a touch of lemon to add a bite and prevent the ripe flesh darkening – is a fabulous starting point for the uninitiated, revealing the richness of the avocado and discovering possible partnerships with other foods. Some people experiment with the amounts of chili or yogurt added in, and one recipe adds chopped chorizo with finely sliced spring onion to the mix.
Here is the basic recipe to start you off.
What you need
- 2 ripe avocado
- ½ lemon for juice
- 1 clove garlic peeled, finely chopped, and crushed with back of a knife
- >¼ tsp chili flakes,
- Glug of extra virgin olive oil or rapeseed oil
- Sea salt and fresh black pepper for seasoning
What you do
Halve the avocado, remove the stone and scoop the flesh into a bowl. Ad the juice of the lemon, avoiding any pips, then add the remaining ingredients.
With the back of a fork mush all ingredients together for a rough texture, or mix in blender for a super smooth texture, whichever you prefer. Season to taste. You may serve with chopped fresh coriander or herbs.
Ginger rice bowl with avocado
To demonstrate how avocado can be integrated with different foods, try this seductive combination of ginger rice and nutty flavours with avocado.
What you need
- 1 ripe avocado
- 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled
- 150g short-grain brown rice
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp cider vinegar
- 4 tbsp pumpkin, sesame or sunflower seeds
- 6 spring onions, cleaned and chopped
- Chopped fresh coriander to serve
What you do
Cook the brown rice and let it stand. Grate the peeled ginger and place in a bowl.
Add the soy and cider vinegar, the ginger, the spring onions and the seeds.
Mix with a fork and divide into two bowls.
Top with sliced avocado or chucks. Serve with chopped coriander.
The Cabot family live and work in Lanmore, outside Westport. Fresh, seasonal foods are their passion, from country markets to growing, making and selling.
They love cooking and eating at the kitchen table, while Redmond and Sandra are kept on their toes with children Penny and Louis. Here they share their favourite recipes.