Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Baked Avocado

     One of my all-time summer favorites to make is my Southwest Salad. It requires zero cooking, very little prep time, and provides an excellent refreshment to hot summer afternoons. The star in that salad is a ripe avocado.

        You see, the plan was to make this salad for lunch last weekend. After our breakfast and coffee were finished Saturday morning, I ran out to grab a few things from the store including the avocado I needed to make lunch. While choosing my avocado, I sneakily used that trick where you remove the little brown stem-thing and see what color it is underneath. Green is perfect and brown is too ripe, supposedly. I got a green one, first grab. Super score.

        What ended up happening as I excitedly cut into the avocado was encountering something like a force field below the skin. I did manage to get it halved with all of my fingers intact, but the mother of all unripe avocados was now sitting before me. Ugh.

        I searched around trying to find some quick fixes, but none were feasible considering I wanted cubes, not mush. I asked my spouse for input and he suggested baking it. I resisted at first because I’m eating as little milk as possible these days and he doesn’t eat eggs, and most baked avocado recipes out there are all about sticking an egg in the middle of it and adding cheese. We decided to just slice up the avocado, bake it, and eat it alongside pintos and some leftover Mexican Rice.

        I was over the moon with this new dish after my first bite! The avocado was quite firm prior to cooking and it developed a delicious outside skin and a smooth, warm inside that was still just a little firm to the bite. I paired this lunch with 2Towns BrightCider and it was an outstanding accompaniment to the baked avocado. I have been raving it about it every few day since we ate this. I highly recommend you try it. We topped this with diced sweet onions and he added some shaved smoked cheddar.

Baked Avocado
Serves 2

For the rice & beans:
1 ¼ C water
1 C salsa
1 C white rice
1 can beans of choice (pintos, black, or red would work really well here)

For the avocados:
1 firm avocado
Drizzle olive oil
Black pepper
Chipotle powder

Optional toppings:
Sour cream
Shredded cheese
Diced green/white/red onions

First... Preheat your oven to 350* and line a heavy baking sheet with parchment or foil.

Then... Slice a halved avocado and remove the skin. Place avocado pieces into a bowl and top with a drizzle of olive oil and a few dashes of each of the seasonings. Toss around to coat evenly, transfer to the lined pan, and bake for around 20 to 30 minutes, depending on your oven. Test doneness with a fork periodically.

Finally... While the avocado is busy in the oven, get the rice and beans started. Bring water and salsa to a boil, then add rice and stir. Open can of beans and drain in colander, rinsing well. Cook rice until water is absorbed, add beans, and fluff with fork. By this time, the avocados should be about to come out of the oven. Take care of any toppings you want, such as shredded cheese or diced onions.

- Patricia
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