Avocados are fruits, though they are quite different from their sweeter tree fruit relatives. Of all fruits, avocados are the highest in oil and protein, making them a great energy source. Avocados are native to areas of Central and South America and have been around for nearly 7,000 years according to archaeological evidence. Historian and writer Fernández de Oviedo was one of the first Europeans to try an avocado. He saw a similarity between the shape of avocados and pears; because of this, he ate his avocado with cheese. His instinct was right on target. Over time avocados became a popular addition to Mexican and South American cuisine, served alongside cheese in dishes ranging from guacamole to tacos to burritos to enchiladas. Today avocados are eaten in a variety of recipes and preparations, from savory to spicy to sweet. Here are a few tasty avocado recipes on my site:
My friend Gaby Dalkin has a terrific cookbook out called Absolutely Avocados, with tons of terrific avocado recipes and ideas. It’s worth checking out if you love avocado as much as I do.
Avocados are best when slightly soft, but they have a habit of ripening quickly. I like to buy my avocados when they’re still slightly firm so they don’t become overly ripe before I use them. If necessary, you can always speed up ripening by storing them in a paper bag along with a banana overnight. Be sure to add them to your lunch if you’re in need of a quick pick-me-up. In the mood to be adventurous? Try them for breakfast! Their buttery texture makes them a nutritionally powerful topping for toast. Mash them up and spread them onto toast like butter if you’re vegan or lactose intolerant. Add a little sprinkle of sea salt, and you’ve got a seriously tasty, healthy way to start the day!
- Before slicing open your avocado, use this quick trick to test for ripeness. Gently remove the stem and check the color of the avocado flesh beneath. A yellowish green is unripe, bright green is perfect and brown means your avocado is probably past its prime. It should yield to gentle pressure but not feel overly soft when squeezed.
- Start by inserting the blade of your knife into the avocado. Then, very carefully with the knife still in place, turn the avocado around the blade so that you make a circular cut all the way around.
- Use your hands to twist and separate the two halves of the avocado.
- Now you have 2 avocado halves. The pit will be left in one half. The pit can easily be removed by very carefully and gently inserting the point of your knife into the surface of the seed, then lifting it out. A gentle twisting motion sometimes helps.
- At this point, there are two ways you can go about slicing the avocado. The first method is my favorite. Turn the avocado halves flat side down against your cutting surface. Slice the halves in half again through the peel, so you have four quarters of avocado.
- Pull the peel gently off of each quarter; if the avocado is ripe the peel will release easily from the slices.
- Continue slicing or dicing the quarters depending on what you need.
- Alternatively, you can slice the avocado in the peel. This method is a bit faster, but won't produce the neatest slices. Slice through the avocado flesh while the avocado is still in the peel, without slicing through the peel.
- If you like, you can also cut the avocado into chunks by slicing vertically and then horizontally across.
- Remove the sliced or diced avocado by scooping out the flesh with a spoon.
- If you don't plan to eat the avocado immediately, have a lemon on hand to squeeze fresh lemon juice on the slices. This will help to keep them from browning.