Avocados are quite possibly the world's most perfect food. They are compact, they are nutritious, they add color to whatever you are making and most importantly they are delicious.
I'm rather ashamed to say that I only first tasted an avocado in 2004. A recipe that I had created for a hamburger was selected for Sutter Home's Build a Better Burger Challenge that year and it included avocados. While my husband had been enjoying the burger all along with the tasty tomato-avocado topping, I would carefully pick out the avocado-it was green and mushy...I couldn't eat green and mushy. But fear that I would possibly be asked on national television (it was filmed by the Food Network) to eat my burger in its entirety made me toss caution to the wind and taste the burger-avocados and all- at home.
Let's just say that since then I've more than made up for my error in judgement. Green and mushy rules. (Now brussel sprouts, I would never try those.) So now I am forever trying to incorporate those tasty "alligator pears" into everything I make. For the record, an avocado topped burger did win that year and it was delicious-just not mine!
Here are a few tips on selecting the perfect avocado at the supermarket:
-Gently squeeze the avocado, it should yield slightly with a little pressure, but still be slightly firm. If you know that you won't be eating it for a few days buy a firmer one.
-Some varieties will turn dark green or even black when ripe, while other varieties may still be a lighter green.
-Don't buy an avocado that feels as though the skin has separated from the flesh-it's past its prime.
-Avoid skins with marks or blemishes.
-If you do buy an unripened avocado, place in a brown paper bag for a day or so and it should soften.
-Once ripe, store the avocados in the refrigerator.
Avocados go well with so many of my favorite foods, but I think the ultimate pairing for me would have to be avocado with citrus. This salad is something I like to make for lunch (I'm trying so hard to eat more salads). Sometimes I will throw a piece of salmon on the grill then squeeze a little orange juice on it and serve it on the side. My second favorite way to enjoy avocados is right out of the shell with a little coarse salt. Mmm.
Avocado Orange Salad with Citrus Garlic Toasts
2 tablespoons butter softened
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped orange zest
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 slices french bread, cut 1/4 inch thick
6 cups shredded Romaine lettuce
2 avocados, peeled, seeds removed, thinly sliced
2 large seedless oranges, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 shallot, very thinly sliced
4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
In a small bowl combine the butter, orange zest, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper; spread the butter evenly onto all sides of the French bread slices.
Heat a medium sized skillet over medium high heat. Place the buttered French bread slices in the pan and cook, turning occasionally, until lightly browned on both sides.
Divide the shredded lettuce between 4 serving plates. Scatter the oranges and avocado over the lettuce and top each salad with the shallot.
Arrange one toast standing up in each salad. Drizzle each salad with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with the remaining salt and pepper.