Growing up in South Philadelphia we never ate avocados. I don't even remember eating guacamole until I was away at college. I'm not sure if it was a cultural thing or a neighborhood thing. But looking back and talking with old friends it was something none of us ever ate.
I'm sure this skewed my opinion of these uber healthy pear shaped fruits (yes, they are fruits not veggies) because until recently I saw them as basically just fillers for sandwiches and such; nothing special. This all changed in late January when my Virtual Potluck group teamed up with SoCal Avocados and we were all shipped a box of 20 hand picked avocados to create recipes with.
SoCal is a small family owned avocado ranch in Southern California. They grow several varieties of avocados (who knew there was more than one kind) including the well known Hass. My box of avocados included 4 varieties and a description card to help distinguish each by shape, texture and taste. You can read more about the different types on thier web page....and I suggest you do because it's really quite interesting. SoCal also offers a avocado of the month program be sure to check it out. Want to WIN some SoCal avocados.....keep reading for details.
This was probably one of the most enjoyable and enlightening food projects I've worked on. I was determined to experiment and bring avocados into the forefront of my diet. And why not the health benefits are amazing. They have no cholesterol, they provide over 13 grams of fiber, are low in carbs and can help you lose weight when you choose them over other sources of fat.
So what did I make with all these avocados? I started with a Caesar dressing...experimenting on substituting avocado for the egg in my favorite recipe. It worked well...maybe even better than the original. I moved on to ice cream. I've heard people talk about avocado ice cream in the past and thought why not. I pureed the avocado, mixed it with cream, sugar and some rum until I got the taste and consistency I desired. Topped with crushed pistachios the finished product was good...different for sure. (see recipe below)
My favorite dish by far though was the Avocado Fennel & Beet Salad. Thin slices of fresh fennel, avocado and red beets layered over a bed of peppery arugula and drizzled with olive oil and a pinch of lemon juice. This was heaven in a plate.
Avocado Fennel & Beet Salad
1 SoCal avocado; peeled and sliced
1 package Melissa's Peeled Baby Red Beets; sliced
1 fennel bulb; thinly sliced
1 bunch arugula
salt & pepper
Place arugula on a serving platter mix with shaved fennel. Top with alternating layers of avocado and beets. Drizzle with olive oil and fresh squeezed lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Avocado Rum Ice Cream
3 SoCal avocados
4 tablespoon rum
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
Peel and pit the avocados. Add the avocados, milk, and sugar to a
blender and puree. Transfer the mixture to a medium mixing bowl, add
the heavy cream and rum; whisk to combine. Place the mixture into the
refrigerator and chill about 4 hours.
mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions.
For soft ice cream, serve immediately. If desired, place in freezer for
3 to 4 hours for firmer texture. Top with crushed pistachios.
SoCal has agreed to send one lucky reader a box of avocados to try. All you have to do is visit their site and choose the avocado you would most like to try. Come back here and let us know and you'll be entered.
Want a few extra entrees.... Follow me on Facebook or Twitter and let me know here. Already a follower...thanks! How about following one of the other VP bloggers or SoCal
Contest ends 2/26/2012 at midnight EST.