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Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Recipes: Enjoy avocados big or small, from dip to dessert

Grilled prawns, a kicky avocado toast and even chocolate mousse

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Maggie Cale
Maggie Cale was born in the United States and has lived most of her life in Pennsylvania. She has a social work degree from Penn State University and finished her career in Washington, D.C. working with families. She moved to Yucatán in 2017 and has worked part-time ghostwriting for bloggers. She lives in Itzimná with her two dogs.
Which avocado is better? The dabate rages on. Photo: Maggie Cale

Yucatán always has avocados and I am a fan! My next-door Mexican neighbor buys them daily from our street vendor. She makes guacamole and has shared some with me. 

“We like it spicy, so lots of chilis,” she says.

The current U.S. national average for one Hass avocado is $2.10. At the local fruit stand, I can buy one for the equivalent of under 50 cents. So naturally, I buy them more frequently now that I’m living in Yucatán.

Photo: Maggie Cale

We have Hass avocados as well as the Aguacate de Yucatán (Yucatán avocado), which are huge. I will be referring to both in this article. 

Of course, there is a big controversy over which is the better avocado, so I have tried both in recipes and by themselves. My best description is that the Hass avocado is buttery, smooth and flavorful. The Yucatan avocado is a little less dense and has more water content and less fat. However, I found it to be a great texture, very buttery, and a good flavor. Also, the larger avocado gives you more for your money at about 60 pesos for about 3 times the avocado. Both worked well in my recipes. The larger avocado is not as easy to find, except in the markets farther out from the city.

Most locals between street vendors and local market sellers agree about the larger of the two varieties.

“We would like to sell as many large avocados as the Hass variety. However, our government at this time only sees this variety useful for the local economy and not a valuable export producing product,” says José, a vendor I talked to. Mexico is the number one exporter of Hass avocados.

Choosing wisely

So how to pick a ripe avocado? I thought I should ask Miguel from the market.

“Avocados ripen after they are harvested,” he told me. “The color may be a darker purplish green and the neck of the avocado, close to the stem, should be somewhat soft.”

They must be ripe to use in these recipes or the flavor and smooth blend will be much harder to achieve.

The nutritional value of an avocado is right up there with a superfood. First, it has no cholesterol or sodium. A small avocado contains 20 different vitamins and nutrients. A single avocado has more potassium than a banana. It is high in fiber and is loaded with antioxidants that are good for your eyes.

In the Mexican culture, they realize how valuable the avocado has been in the trade. They have also learned to use avocados in developing medicines and make-up.

Here are some basic recipes to start, and ending with a surprise for dessert. 

Photo: Maggie Cale

Easy Spicy Guacamole 

  • 2 large ripe avocados (or 3 smaller ones) 
  • 1 jalapeño pepper (cored / seeded and finely diced)
  • 1 habañero pepper (cored / seeded and finely diced)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  •  2 small Roma tomatoes, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 large lime, juiced and set aside
  • 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)

Mash the avocado and add all the cut-up ingredients. Just before serving, drizzle with lime juice.

Photo: Maggie Cale

Avocado Toast 

  • 1 large avocado (or two small)
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 4 slices toasted whole-wheat bread

Mash up avocado, add seasonings and spread mixture on bread.

This is the simple version of avocado toast. Mushrooms, tomatoes, garlic or a poached egg all can change the taste.

Photo: Maggie Cale

Yucatán Grilled Prawns with Creamy Avocado Sauce  

Suitable for guests at dinner, this makes for a great taste of the Yucatán. 

Marinade for prawns

  • 4 garlic cloves or to taste
  • ½ c apple cider vinegar 
  • 1 tsp of oregano
  • 1 tsp of sugar  
  • ⅓ c of olive oil 
  • Tsp of cinnamon 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 

Place cleaned prawns in the marinade for a half hour.

Avocado Sauce

  • 3 ripe avocados
  • 3 tomatillos
  • 1 serrano pepper
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 4 tablespoons Mexican cream or sour cream
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 1 tsp. salt

Chop it all and put it in the blender with the other ingredients.

Add water slowly if too thick. Refrigerate at least for one hour so flavors can blend. 

Then cut up red onions and purple cabbage to put into tortillas with the grilled prawns.

Grill your prawns for one to two minutes on each side. 

Serve in a warm tortilla with the avocado sauce.

A mousse sweetened by a Yucatan avocado. Photo: Maggie Cale

Avocado Chocolate Mousse 

The buttery consistency of the avocado lends itself to sweet recipes in place of butter. It is utilized in cakes, brownies and cookies and even this confection. 

  • 2 ripe avocados (240g)
  • 1/4 cup regular cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup dutch cocoa or melted chocolate chips
  • 3-4 tbsp almond milk 
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup)

After cutting up the flesh of the avocado, add it all to your blender. Pour into bowls and chill.

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