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January 13, 2015
Avocados: An Unlikely Love Affair
By Janet Tharpe
There was a time when my husband loved to share guacamole with me... because he would get to eat it all! I was a non-believer, an avid avocado avoider. I took my tortilla chips straight, with just a hint of salsa if I was feeling wild. But, oh how far I've come!
With an open mind and a good recipe, I've yet to meet an ingredient that couldn't win me over. Through the oodles of cooking we do in the Test Kitchen, avocados slowly began making regular appearances in my fruit bowl. They'd get sliced into a salad, spread onto a sandwich, even blended into a smoothie! And you know what, I loved it.
Naturally rich and creamy, avocados are one of the most fascinating foods you'll ever come across. They're full of vitamins and minerals, and packed with healthy oils! (Leave it to me to fall for the fattiest fruit possible, huh?) They are downright crave-worthy served on their own with just a sprinkling of lime juice and salt, but also hold up well in the many inventive recipes we've had the pleasure to toss them in.
So, remember the smoothies I mentioned a moment ago? We weren't joking! Melissa Baldan's Avocado Strawberry Smoothie is just that: a creamy, sweet, super strawberry treat. "Don't let the name (or ingredients) throw you or keep you from trying this," encourages Melissa. "This is a summertime staple at our house and my kids - currently 8 and 10 - ask for this daily!" The unexpected blending of strawberries, avocado, vanilla ice cream and milk is peppered with the delightful flavors of honey, cinnamon and nutmeg. The result is kid-friendly nutrition disguised as an extra thick strawberry milkshake! Let's hear it for hidden fruits and veggies!
Amanda Fields and Nikki Smith are fans of mingling their avocados with fruit as well, only they choose to serve them in salad form.
"I love Avocados!!!" exclaims Nikki proudly. She suggests whiling away your "lazy" summer afternoons reclined with the refreshing avocado salad that she whips up regularly. Filled with red onion, sweet orange sections and ample cilantro, this salad of romaine lettuce and avocado is nothing short of delightful. The unexpected combination of flavors works surprisingly well. And the simple dressing of salad oil, lime and sugar is a simple pick-me-up for any summer salad. Color us refreshed!
Equal yum-props go out to Amanda for her grapefruit-y spin on light, summer deliciousness. Her E-Z Grapefruit Salad has been passed down through the generations and is as easy as they come. "My Aunt loved this recipe on warm summer days," says Amanda. "She would say, 'With the already-prepared grapefruit sections, this salad can be fixed in a snap!'" Amped up by the addition of red wine vinegar and Roquefort cheese, this avocado salad really transcends the expected and is a tribute to the creativity of Amanda's aunt. "She passed away," says Amanda, "but her recipes keep her active in my heart."
It was a friend who introduced Jeanne Benavidez to her now signature recipe for Avocado Stuffed Tomatoes. The miniature stuffed tomatoes burst with flavor and are a take-along favorite... perfect for picnics and cookouts! "A friend brought this to a back yard party once and I really liked it," she says of the Blue Ribbon dish. "She was kind enough to give me the easy recipe. I have made it several times and everyone seems to really enjoy the little morsels of coolness." Stuffed with a mixture of cream cheese and avocado, these beautiful cherry tomatoes are as tasty as they are cute. They're a festive addition to any table, adding a special pop of color and yummy flavor.
With recipes like this it's hard to remember back to that time in my life when avocados were met with a turned-up nose. It just goes to show that even as adults we have so many wonderful flavors and techniques still waiting to be sampled and enjoyed. It sure is one delicious journey, isn't it?