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Texas Pecan and Avocado Salad Mixes Two Favorites


Avocados go great with pecans in this salad.

Texans love pecans and avocados. So, why not use the two together? That’s the secret of this simple salad, which can be made any time of year, yet it has an appealing array of spring colors. It comes from Southern Living’s latest cookbook, “1001 Ways to Cook Southern” (Oxmoor House, $34.95).

Texas Pecan and Avocado Salad

1 head Bibb lettuce
2 avocados, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
Tangy Dijon Dressing (recipe follows)

Arrange lettuce leaves on a serving platter. Top evenly with avocados and bell pepper slices; sprinkle with pecans. Drizzle with desired amount of dressing.

Makes 8 servings.

Tangy Dijon Dressing

1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar, or to taste
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, 2 tablespoons water, sugar, mustard, salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Makes about 2/3 cup dressing.

From Southern Living’s “1001 Ways to Cook Southern”

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Holy Guacamole: It’s Simply Good


One of our perennial complaints about guacamole in San Antonio restaurants is that it is frequently no more than mashed avocado. This isn’t so bad when it’s really fresh, ripe avocado. You can add a little salsa, salt and lemon from your iced tea and get by. But the gooey olive green-turning-to-brown stuff is really bad.

The basis for a good guacamole is the fruit, of course; just at the best stage or ripeness, where it has a bit of firmness but easily mashes with a fork. Too soft, and the fresh taste leaves and (to me) a strange bacon-y taste takes over.  After the avocado, I like garlic, lemon or lime juice, salt, chopped cilantro, minced serrano, onion juice or sliced green onions, a dash of olive oil and a little Tabasco.

Olive oil? You might think adding evoo to guac is bringing coals to Newcastle. But olive oil is also monounsaturated, as is avocado oil, so it’s not unhealthy, particularly, and just adds a little more fat.  I like the flavor it adds — extra fruitiness and acid, and I also think it does something nice to the texture. It has been, in fact, my (no longer) secret ingredient.

Bonnie’s Guacamole

1 medium clove garlic, mashed and minced
2 large avocados, peeled and pitted
Juice from half a lemon or a whole smaller lime, watch for seeds
1 teaspoon onion juice (see note) OR 2 tablespoons minced green onion
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
2-3 dashes Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon minced serrano chile, or to taste
Salt, to taste

Rub half the minced garlic around a plate-sized shallow bowl. Put the peeled and pitted avocados in the bowl and mash with a fork until it’s mixed, but leaving it at a rough texture. Add the rest of the garlic, the lemon or lime juice, onion juice (see note below) or minced green onion, cilantro, olive oil, red wine vinegar, Tabasco and serrano chiles. Gently stir in the ingredients, taste for salt and add as much as you like.

Note: For onion juice, slice an onion in half. Then, hold the sharp blade of a French knife at an angle, at the top of one half on the cut side, and push it down over the raw onion so that juice and a little pulp flow out. I especially like to do this if the guacamole needs to keep for a day, or overnight. Diced raw onion gets soggy.

Also: Putting pits in the guacamole doesn’t keep it from turning brown. But the lemon juice and vinegar help, as does putting a length of plastic wrap over the top of the bowl, bringing it down to touch the surface of the guacamole. Air causes the oxidation that turns the green to brown.

Makes 2-2 1/2 cups guacamole.

From Bonnie Walker

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