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~ Tangy Avocado Salad Dressing a la Rick Bayless ~

IMG_3121As Kermit would say, "it's not easy being green", and, many folks need to be coerced into eating their greens and green food.  But, when it comes to avocados, people seem to overlook the color and head straight to the table.  I am one of them.  Give me a perfectly ripe avocado, and some salt, and, I'll show you my lunch.  You could say, I have a love affair with avocados, and:

When you have a love affair with someone, you want to know all about them:

6a0120a8551282970b01538f5c2885970b-320wiThe most popular avocado is the California Hass, which rhymes with "pass" (which is frequently mispronounced and mispelled "Haas").  This pear-shaped fruit weighs in at about half a pound and has bumpy, rough, dark greenish-black skin (it was known early on as an alligator pear).  It is known for its silky, rich, buttery texture and mild, nutlike flavor.  It is the only avocado variety to be grown year-round, represents about 80% of all avocados sold in the world, and, generates more than $1 billion in revenues in the US each year.  Trust me when I tell you, after a taste test between Hass and any other variety, you will agree there is no comparison in flavor and texture -- Hass wins.

220px-Persea_americana_fruit_2It is noteworthy to mention that all Hass avocado trees descended from a single "mother tree" that was raised by a mail carrier named Rudolf Hass, of LaHabra Heights, CA.  Hass purchased the seedling tree from a grower named A.R. Rideout, who grew and experimented growing and developing many varieties of avocados.  Hass tried unsuccessfully to graft another variety onto it and planned on cutting the tree down until his children talked him out of it.  Since his kids loved the fruit and the tree gave good yield, he named it after himself and patented it in 1935.  That same year, Hass entered into a business with a Whittier, CA nurseryman to grow and promote his avocados.  Rudolf Hass died in 1952, never realizing the global impact his avocados would have.  

Sadly, his original tree died after a long struggle with a root fungus and was cut down in 2002.

6a0120a8551282970b014e894f7cce970d-320wiLike many other fruits, avocados ripen best after being picked off the tree.  A perfectly ripe avocado will be slightly soft and yield to gentle palm pressure, while an unripened avocado will be very firm/hard to the touch.  When a knife is run through and around it, it will literally cut like butter and the two halves will separate cleanly with a gentle twist. To speed up the ripening process, place several avocados in a paper bag and set them aside at room temperature for 1-2 days.  To increase the shelf life of avocados, store them in the refrigerator for 1-2 days.  Once an avocado is opened and the edible flesh is exposed to air, it tends to discolor very rapidly.  To minimize this discolorization, it's advisable to add diced, cubed or sliced avocado to the dish being served at the very last moment.  When a dish contains mashed or smashed avocado, the addition of citric acid, like lemon or lime juice, helps to prevent it from discoloring.  It is NOT true that burying an avocado pit in the guacamole will maintain its color.

6a0120a8551282970b0154332f91e4970c-320wiThe pit is cleanly and easily removed by holding the pitted half of the avocado securely in the palm of your hand.  

Using a chef's knife, give the pit a somewhat forceful tap with the center of the knife blade. Then, one gentle twist of the knife and the pit is out.  

To slice the avocado, you can easily peel away the skin and slice or dice in any manner you want.


To quickly cube the pitted avocado, for applications like adding to salads:  Simply score the soft flesh into desired-sized cubes and scoop them with an ordinary tablespoon.  

When making guacamole, skip cubing the avocado and:  Simply scoop the flesh out in very large pieces.  In any case, if you are not using your avocado, right then and there, as directed, make sure you immediately brush, squirt and/or toss it with fresh lime juice to delay discoloring.  In my recipe for guacamole, the addition of  bottled green chile sauce (salsa verde), in addition to lime juice, increases shelf life for up to two days.

IMG_3044Two days ago I made and posted ~ My Stovetop Green Chile Chicken Mac & Cheese ~ recipe.  You can find the recipe in Categories 3, 13, 19, or 20.  Tonight I'm making a salad to serve with the leftovers and I'm topping it with Rick Bayless's recipe for Tangy Avocado Salad Dressing (which he published in his Mexican Everyday cookbook).  I also want to thank my FB foodie friend Teresa Gottier for "turning me on" to this lip-smacking recipe.

Tangy Avocado Dressing (Aderezo de Aguacate)

"This creamy dressing is good tossed with a crunchy green like romaine.  It's luxurious drizzled over, or, used as a dip for raw vegetables too!" ~ Rick Bayless

(Original recipe has been tweeked a bit by Mel!)

IMG_30581/2  cup vegetable oil

3-4  tablespoons fresh lime juice (the juice from 1 lime)

1  large clove garlic, run through a press

1/2  cup mayonnaise

1  tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1  ripe Hass avocado, pitted and flesh scooped from skin

1/2  cup loosely-packed, roughly-chopped, cilantro

1/2  teaspoon sea salt

1/4  teaspoon cayenne pepper

IMG_3067 IMG_3062                                         ~ Step 1. Prep and place all ingredients, as listed, in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, except for the vegetable oil.  Do not put the vegetable oil in yet.  

Using a series of 12-15 rapid on-off pulses, finely chop and combine all. Turn motor on and process until smooth, about 15-20 seconds.

IMG_3073 IMG_3069                                               ~ Step 2. With motor running, add the oil through the feed tube, in a thin, steady stream, until mixture is smooth.  Transfer to a 2-cup food storage container. Use immediately or chill for an hour or two, to give the flavors time to marry.  Serve chilled or at room temperature:

IMG_3092Tangy Avocado Salad Dressing a la Rick Bayless:  Recipe yields 1 1/2 cups dressing.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; garlic press; spoon; food processor; rubber spatula; 2-cup food storage container w/lid

Cook's Note:  This dressing can be made several hours or a day ahead, and, keeps nicely in the refrigerator, with minimal discoloration, for about three days after that. 

6a0120a8551282970b015433345133970c-800wiExtra Cook's Note:  The most popular dish made with avocados in the USA will come as no surprise to you.  It is guacamole.  You can find my recipe for ~ Holy Guacamole! It's the Second Day of Summer! ~ in Categories 1, 4, 8, ,10, 13, 14 or 15!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2013) 


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