April 30, 2014 in Food

Stuffed avocados great for Cinco de Mayo

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Adriana Janovich photo

Herbed crab salad-stuffed avocados.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

Rich and creamy, avocados are quite possibly the perfect fruit.

When they’re ripened and ready, they don’t last long at my house. If I’m not trying to save them for a specific recipe, I don’t need anything to enjoy them but a little sea salt and freshly cracked pepper – and a fork. If it wasn’t for their alligator skin and large pit, I would eat them like apples. I love avocados that much.

Green, pear-shaped, velvety and versatile, they’re what make guacamole so great. They also complement all kinds of foods – from salads, sandwiches, omelets and wraps to toast. Simply smash the fruit’s green flesh onto a piece of good, crusty bread, sprinkle with some black sesame seeds, and devour.

Pitted and halved, the boat-shaped sections offer convenient cups for all kinds of filling – from crab meat à la Betty Draper ordering room service in “Mad Men” to shredded chicken with Mexican spices to celebrate Cinco de Mayo on Monday.

The stuffed belly of the avocado makes for a pretty presentation. Filling them feels a bit like decorating. But you must serve them immediately after slicing and dressing. Avocado insides brown easily. A little lime or lemon juice helps avoid discoloration and keeps their flesh chartreuse. Still, they’re best served right away.

If, for some reason, you have a half left over, America’s Test Kitchen offers this trick: Coat the cradle of the side you wish to store with olive oil, allowing the excess to drip onto a plate. Then, place the avocado flesh-side down in the oil to sort of seal it from the air, and keep it in the refrigerator.

Whatever you do, don’t freeze the fruit. The water in avocados will crystallize, ruining their creamy texture.

Avocados, with about 240 calories in one cup, are cholesterol-free, but 85 percent of their calories come from fat. It’s the good kind, though – monounsaturated fat is considered healthy fat and makes the fruit downright buttery.

Avocados are also good sources of vitamin C, vitamin K, folate and dietary fiber.

The large, single-seeded berries are ancient staples in Central America and Mexico, where they were first cultivated by the Aztecs as many as 2,500 years ago. Today, most avocados consumed in America come from California.

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, which celebrates Mexican pride and heritage – particularly the Mexican army’s unexpected victory over French forces in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862 – I tried two stuffed-avocado recipes: spicy shredded chicken and tequila-spiked, fresh corn salsa.

I also tried two more: herbed crabmeat inspired by “Mad Men,” the AMC show that entered its final season in April, and caprese. The salad, a combination of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil and olive oil, is named for the island of Capri and always reminds me of springtime in Italy.

Each of these recipes features different flavors, but the method of enjoyment is the same: using a teaspoon to scoop out a bit of the luscious avocado flesh along with a little of the savory stuffing.

Spicy Shredded Chicken-Stuffed Avocados with Lime and Cilantro Crema

Adapted from fedandfit.com

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound chicken tenders

2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus a pinch

1 1/4 cups chicken stock, plus more if needed

1/2 tablespoon cumin

1/2 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon black pepper

4 medium avocados, halved and pitted

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

1 large lime, juiced

2 radishes, sliced, for garnish (optional)

Cilantro, for garnish (optional)

Heat olive oil in a wide-based pan with a fitted lid over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add garlic and saute. Season chicken with a pinch of salt, then add to the pan, sauteing each side for about 2 minutes. Pour in stock, covering chicken. Place lid on the pan and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until chicken is thoroughly cooked. Remove chicken and garlic from pan and place in a bowl. Shred chicken using two forks. Add 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, cumin, chili powder and black pepper to the shredded chicken and combine until well mixed. Stuff each avocado half with the seasoned, shredded chicken. Combine sour cream, cilantro and lime juice in a small mixing bowl. Drizzle cream sauce over tops of stuffed avocados, garnish with radish slices and cilantro leaves, and serve immediately.

Serves: 4 as a main dish, 8 as an appetizer

Avocados Stuffed with Tequila-Spiked Fresh Corn and Chipotle Salsa

From Adriana Janovich

1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes

1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels, boiled and cooled

1/3 cup chopped sweet onions

1/3 cup radishes, finely chopped

2 to 3 tablespoons minced canned chipotle peppers in adobo

3/4 cup chopped cilantro

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

2 to 3 tablespoons tequila

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

4 medium avocados, halved and pitted

Corn chips, for serving (optional)

In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients through salt. Scoop mixture into each avocado half and serve immediately.

Serves: 4 as a main dish or 8 as an appetizer

Herbed Crab Salad-Stuffed Avocados

From Everyday with Rachael Ray, August 2010

1/3 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons chopped fresh summer herbs (such as basil, tarragon or chives)

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Pinch pepper, plus more for serving

2 chopped cloves garlic

Pinch salt, plus more for serving

8 ounces lump crabmeat

1/3 cup chopped celery

2 avocados, halved and pitted

In a medium bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, herbs, red wine vinegar and pepper. Using the flat side of a knife, smash 2 chopped cloves of garlic with a pinch of salt; whisk the paste into mayonnaise mixture. Stir in crabmeat and chopped celery. Divide the crab salad among avocado halves. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Note: For a lower-fat recipe, use low-fat sour cream instead of mayo.

Serves: 2 as a main dish, 4 as an appetizer

Caprese-Stuffed Avocado

From laylita.com

1 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes, cut into halves

8 ounces or 1/2 pound of fresh mozzarella pearls or ciliegine

1/2 cup basil garlic oil, adjust to taste (recipe follows)

4 avocados, halved, pitted and peeled

Salad greens (such as arugula, baby kale, spinach, butter lettuce, basil)

4 to 6 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar reduction, to drizzle, adjust to taste (recipe follows)

Salt and pepper to taste

Place tomatoes and mozzarella in a bowl with the basil garlic oil, then mix well. Place peeled avocado halves on a plate over salad greens. Spoon filling into the avocado halves. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar reduction, season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.

Serves: 4 as a main dish or 8 as an appetizer

Basil Garlic Oil

1 large bunch of basil, or about 2 cups of packed basil leaves

1/2 to 1 cup of olive oil, adjust as desired

1 to 2 garlic cloves, or more to taste

Salt to taste

Place all ingredients in a blender or mini-food processor, and process until smooth. Taste and add additional salt or olive oil as desired.

Note: The basil garlic oil can be used immediately or refrigerated until ready to use. For freshest flavor, use within 24 to 48 hours.

Balsamic Vinegar Reduction

2 cups balsamic vinegar

1 lightly crushed whole garlic clove (optional)

A few sprigs of herbs (such as thyme, oregano, basil) (optional)

Place balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until the vinegar has reduced by at least half, about 30 minutes.

For a thicker, glaze-type sauce, cook until it’s reduced to 1/2 cup.

As soon as the balsamic reduction reaches the desired consistency and concentration level, remove it from the heat, and let it cool. If you added crushed garlic or herbs you can remove them with a slotted spoon or strain the reduction. Place in container or bottle and use as needed.

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