Aug 16, 2014

It's AVOCADO Season!

Buttery Avocados from my small orchard
Click on photo to view larger
The avocado is found throughout the world, especially in warmer, tropical climates. They were first planted in Hawaii in 1825 and was common throughout the islands by 1910. Here on Moloka'i we have several varieties that have cross pollinated, creating its own unique buttery variety. I was so impressed with them, that I planted about 30 avocado trees in my backyard 10 years ago. They were started from the seeds of a local 70 year old tree that grows down the street in the village of Kualapu'u. These trees, while all slightly different, are now producing the creamiest avocados on the island. My wife often sells them, when in season, on Saturday mornings at our local farmers market.

Apart from being delicious, the popular avocado is also a nutritionally healthy powerhouse. Loaded with heart-boosting mono-unsaturated fat, a great source of fiber and teeming with over 20 essential vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.

Avocado Facts You Probably Didn't Know: 
•  Avocados are by far the fattiest fruit out there (about 75% of the calories are from monounsaturated fat), but good fat is good; we need it to assimilate fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K).
•  High in several of the Bs (including folate), moderate level of C, and E, and a bit of A
•  Super high in potassium (higher than bananas)
•  High in insoluble fiber
•  Filled with enzymes which help digestion. (Other fruits that bring their own enzymes are bananas, papaya, kiwi, mangos – perhaps this is why we often feed these to children.)
•  Unlike most fruit (but like bananas), they mature on the tree but don’t ripen until picked, which is why they’re so often rock hard at the store.
•  They ripen from broad-end to stem-end, so if you’re only cutting a small piece, start at the fat-end.
•  The actual word avocado comes from the Aztec word “ahuacatl” which means testicle because of the shape... some things we don't need to know.

Most people love to eat avocados, and the classic avocado recipe, and football food, is guacamole and chips (recipe below). My favorite way to have avocado is avocado halves filled with red wine vinegar or splashed with tamari sauce and fresh lemon juice. It's so good and makes a great snack or light lunch. However sometimes I find myself wanting some other flavors in there. I have found out that I am not alone, other people have been very creative with what they do with their avocados, like crushing roasted nori into mashed avocado, spreading it on rice cakes and topping it with salt, pepper and sesame seeds, or Avocado & Apple Salad! Cube the avacado and apple into similar sized pieces, mix in some sunflower seeds, and drizzle with a bit of lemon juice (keeps the apples from turning brown and it is so tasty!).

Check out these other avocado ideas:

Lobster & Avocado Martini Salad
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
1 pound cooked lobster meat, coarsely chopped
2 shallots, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Old Bay Seasoning, to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil or mayonnaise
2 teaspoons horseradish
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and diced
1 mango, peeled and diced
1/2 cup fresh, cooked corn kernels
one handful chopped parsley
1 jalapeno, minced (optional)

Whisk the melted butter and one tablespoon of the lemon juice. In a bowl mix the lobster pieces with the butter/lemon mixture and one of the chopped shallots. Add salt and pepper. Lightly sprinkle with the Old Bay Seasoning. (There’s salt in the Old Bay so consider this when adding the regular salt). In another bowl whisk the oil or mayonnaise with the horseradish, remaining one tablespoon of lemon juice, and the lemon zest. Add the remaining ingredients. Taste and adjust seasoning. If it needs more zing, add a little more horseradish or lemon. If too sharp, add additional oil or mayonnaise. Spoon into martini glasses and serve. Makes 6 servings.

Mixed Green Salad with
Lemon Avocado Mustard Salad Dressing
1 medium ripe avocado, peeled and mashed
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons Grey Poupon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried dill weed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon honey
Salad greens, cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumbers and sweet red and yellow pepper strips

In a blender, combine the first ten ingredients; cover and process until blended. Serve with salad greens, tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers. Store in the refrigerator. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Avocado Shrimp Tzatziki
Tzatziki is a traditional Greek dip and gyro condiment. The creamy yogurt texture and exotic flavors work really well as a topping for avocados. The shrimp take this appetizer/light lunch to another level.

1 cup Greek whole milk yogurt
1 Japanese cucumber, seeded, finely grated and drained
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon lemon zest plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, plus 4 sprigs for garnish (kumu Farms on Moloka'i has fresh dill)
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
2 ripe avocados
12 small cooked shrimp, peeled, deveined, and seasoned

In a medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt, cucumber, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice and dill. Season with salt and pepper. Chill. When ready to serve, take a sharp knife and split each avocado in half. Take a large spoon scoop out the the avocado meat from its shell, being careful to keep it in one piece. Place each half in a small bowl, and fill each with the tzatziki mixture. Top each with 3 shrimp, garnished with a sprig of fresh dill. Makes 4 servings.

Shrimp Tartare with Avocado
2 large ripe avocados, diced
1 pound cooked shrimp, diced, reserving 4 whole shrimp for garnish
2 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
4 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
salt and pepper to taste
capers for garnish
French bread, sliced and drizzled with olive oil

In a stainless steel bowl, combine ingredients, except for capers and bread. Mix gently. Season with salt and pepper, and refrigerate for 2 hours. To serve, fill tartare mixture in 4, 3-inch wide ramekins on 4 small chilled plates. Carefully remove the ramekin molds. Place one whole shrimp on top of each mold and sprinkle around the plates and on top of the tartare with capers. Serve with sliced French bread drizzled with olive oil. Makes 4 servings.

Avocado Rolls with Tobiko
Inspired by sushi bar rolls, these simple to make Hawaiian pupus are another way to enjoy avocado when in season.

1 ripe avocado
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
3 nori sheets (seaweed sheets, found in the Asian section of your grocery store)
1 Japanese cucumber, sliced into 1/8 inch rounds, to make 18 slices
Tobiko (flying fish eggs, found in the Asian section of your grocery store)
zest of one lemon for garnish

Remove the flesh from the avocado and mix it with lemon juice, egg yolk, garlic powder, salt and pepper, leaving a few lumps of avocado. Take each nori sheet and cut it into 6 strips with kitchen shears. Put a teaspoon or so of mixture into each nori strip and roll the nori around the avocado mixture. Set each roll on end, on top of a cucumber slice, and top with a little tobiko and a sprinkle of lemon zest. Makes 18 servings.

Ahi-Olive Stuffed Avocado
"Poke" is a favorite pupu (appetizer) here in the Hawaiian islands. Try putting your favorite poke combination into half of an avocado for your next luau, or try this unique combination:

2 ripe avocados, cut in half, pitted with skin left on
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper or seasoned salt
1/2 pound ahi tuna, sushi grade, diced into 1/4 inch dice
1 egg yolk
12 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

Cut avocados in half and remove the pit. Leave the skin on the avocado halves. Sprinkle the avocado flesh with lemon juice so they don't turn brown. Sprinkle each half with a little salt and pepper or seasoned salt. Gently combine one egg yolk with the diced ahi and chopped olives. Spoon mixture into the cavity of each avocado. Chill in the refrigerator before serving. Makes 4 servings.

Salmon-Avocado Poke
This delicious poke can be served either in the avocado shell, or over Jasmine rice that has been cooled to room temperature.

1 pound sushi-grade salmon
1 avocado, cubed
cooked Jasmine white rice, to serve
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
1/3 cup Tamari sauce
2 tablespoons white sugar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground ginger
toasted sesame seeds

In a medium bowl, mix together red onion, green onion, Tamari sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and ginger. Set aside. Remove bones and skin from your salmon, if any, and cut the fish into 3/4 inch chunks. Add fish and avocado to the bowl with the marinade. Toss to coat. Refrigerate for 15 to 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve with extra diced green onions and sesame seeds on top. Makes 4 servings. 

Note: To make this recipe even more special, make roasted nori chips to serve with it. Simply coat one side of 4 nori sheets with a very thin coating of water (or spray it on). Sprinkle half of the sheet with a little salt, sesame seeds, and just a little wasabi powder. Fold the nori sheet over on itself and press down. Cut the sheet into strips and place the strips on a baking sheet. Bake at 300˚F for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the strips are crisp. Repeat this process to make as many roasted nori chips as you like.

Chunky Guacamole
2 ripe avocados, pitted and peeled
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 ripe plum tomatoes, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/3 cup finely chopped sweet onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
hot sauce (optional)
salt and pepper to taste, or avocado seasoning (recipe below)

Mash the avocados with a fork until chunky. Stir in the lime juice, tomatoes, onion, cilantro, and hot sauce, if using. Season to taste with salt and ground pepper. Serve at room temperature with corn chips. Makes 8 servings.

Avocado Seasoning
This avocado seasoning mix is perfect for guacamole or just sprinkled over a sliced avocado, cucumber, tomato salad garnished with cold shrimp. This seasoning is good to have around, especially during avocado season.

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dried minced onion or onion powder
pinch of cumin, to taste
1/4 teaspoon dried cilantro
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients. Store in an air-tight container if not using immediately.
To make guacamole, mash two avocados with the seasoning, then stir in 1 chopped Roma tomato. Add 1/4 teaspoon lime juice to prevent browning. Serve. Makes about 1-1/2 teaspoons of seasoning.

Guacamole Salad Dressing
This dressing is great on sliced tomatoes, or on your favorite green salad, or try using it as a dip for shrimp. I like to skewer pieces cold imitation crab (surimi) and cooked shrimp and drizzle or brush this dressing over the top for a delicious appetizer. Another good thing is to put this dressing on top of mahi-mahi fish tacos... sooo goood!

2 ripe avocados, chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 minced garlic clove
2 tablespoons cilantro (leaves and tender stems), finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Put chopped avocado in a small bowl or food processor, and mash until smooth. Mix in the rest of the ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the guacamole dressing to prevent oxidation from the air reaching it. Refrigerate until ready to use. Makes about 3 cups depending on the size of your avocados.
Note: Remember that much of this recipe is done to taste because of the variability in the fresh ingredients. Start with this recipe and adjust to your taste.

Chips & Avocado Soup
Hawaii has some wonderful tropical avocados, just like Mexico. This simple soup satisfies my south-of-the-boarder cravings, and is a great way to enjoy avocado.

6 (6-inch) corn tortillas
cooking spray
1 3/4 cups sliced onion
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 cups chopped tomato
1 teaspoon hot sauce, or to taste
6 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup (3 ounces) queso fresco, or shredded 4 cheese Mexican cheese
1 cup cubed peeled avocado
1 large lime, cut into 6 wedges
1 small bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut tortillas into 1/4-inch-wide strips. Place strips on a baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes or until golden. Set strips aside.

Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion and garlic; sauté 7 minutes or until golden. Place onion mixture, tomato, and hot sauce in a blender or food processor; process until smooth.

Place pan over medium-high heat. Add tomato mixture, and cook 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Add chicken broth; bring to a boil. Partially cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 30 minutes. Ladle soup into bowls. Divide the cheese, tortilla strips, and avocado evenly among bowls. Sprinkle each serving with chopped cilantro. Serve with lime wedges on the side. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Buttery Avocado Coconut Cream Soup
Like a Vichyssoise, a French-style potato soup, this rich avocado soup is served cold as an appetizer.

2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 large jalapeno pepper, seeds & membranes removed (if desired), and minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh mint leaves
3 avocados, peeled and cut into eights
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (plus more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (plus more to taste)
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1/3 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup diced tomatoes

Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan set over medium-low heat. Add the onion and jalapeno pepper, and sweat (cook without browning) until the onion is soft and translucent, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for additional 2 minutes. Stir in the mint. Let cool slightly. Place the avocados in a food processor or heavy-duty blender, along with 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth. Pulse until finely chopped.

Add the remaining broth, along with the onion mixture, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth. Pour the soup into a medium-sized bowl and stir in the lite coconut milk. Cover the soup and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Serve chilled, topped with diced tomatoes. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

For even more avocado recipes, check out this previous post "The Hawaiian Avocado", click here.

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