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Originally published Monday, May 5, 2014 at 6:03 AM

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Recipes: Stuffed Avocados


Spokesman-Review

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Rich and creamy, avocados are quite possibly the perfect fruit.

They’re what make guacamole so great. They also complement all kinds of foods — from salads, sandwiches, omelets and wraps to toast. Simply smash the fruit’s green flesh onto a piece of good, crusty bread, sprinkle with some black sesame seeds and devour.

Pitted and halved, the boat-shaped sections offer convenient cups for all kinds of filling — from crab meat to shredded chicken with Mexican spices.

The stuffed belly of the avocado makes for a pretty presentation. Filling them feels a bit like decorating. But you must serve them immediately after slicing and dressing. Avocado insides brown easily. A little lime or lemon juice helps avoid discoloration and keeps their flesh chartreuse. Still, they’re best served right away.

If, for some reason, you have a half left over, America’s Test Kitchen offers this trick: Coat the cradle of the side you wish to store with olive oil, allowing the excess to drip onto a plate. Then, place the avocado flesh-side down in the oil to sort of seal it from the air, and keep it in the refrigerator.

Whatever you do, don’t freeze the fruit. The water in avocados will crystallize, ruining their creamy texture.

Avocados, with about 240 calories in one cup, are cholesterol-free, but 85 percent of their calories come from fat. It’s the good kind, though — monounsaturated fat is considered healthy fat and makes the fruit downright buttery.

Avocados are also good sources of vitamin C, vitamin K, folate and dietary fiber.

The large, single-seeded berries are ancient staples in Central America and Mexico, where they were first cultivated by the Aztecs as many as 2,500 years ago. Today, most avocados consumed in America come from California.

SPICY SHREDDED CHICKEN-STUFFED AVOCADOS

WITH LIME AND CILANTRO CREMA

Serves: 4 as a main dish, 8 as an appetizer

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound chicken tenders

2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus a pinch

1¼ cups chicken stock, plus more if needed

½ tablespoon cumin

½ tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon black pepper

4 medium avocados, halved and pitted

½ cup sour cream

½ cup cilantro, chopped

1 large lime, juiced

2 radishes, sliced, for garnish (optional)

Cilantro, for garnish (optional)

Heat olive oil in a wide-based pan with a fitted lid over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add garlic and saute. Season chicken with a pinch of salt, then add to the pan, sauteing each side for about two minutes. Pour in stock, covering chicken. Place lid on the pan and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until chicken is thoroughly cooked. Remove chicken and garlic from pan and place in a bowl. Shred chicken using two forks. Add 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, cumin, chili powder and black pepper to the shredded chicken and combine until well mixed. Stuff each avocado half with the seasoned, shredded chicken. Combine sour cream, cilantro and lime juice in a small mixing bowl. Drizzle cream sauce over tops of stuffed avocados, garnish with radish slices and cilantro leaves, and serve immediately.

— Adapted from fedandfit.com

AVOCADOS STUFFED WITH TEQUILA-SPIKED FRESH CORN AND CHIPOTLE SALSA

Serves: 4 as a main dish or 8 as an appetizer

1½ cups chopped tomatoes

1½ cups fresh corn kernels, boiled and cooled

1 / 3 cup chopped sweet onions

1 / 3 cup radishes, finely chopped

2 to 3 tablespoons minced canned chipotle peppers in adobo

¾ cup chopped cilantro

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

2 to 3 tablespoons tequila

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon coarse salt

4 medium avocados, halved and pitted

Corn chips, for serving (optional)

In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients through salt. Scoop mixture into each avocado half and serve immediately.

— From Adriana Janovich

HERBED CRAB SALAD-STUFFED AVOCADOS

Serves: 2 as a main dish, 4 as an appetizer

1 / 3 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons chopped fresh summer herbs (such as basil, tarragon or chives)

1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar

Pinch pepper, plus more for serving

2 chopped cloves garlic

Pinch salt, plus more for serving

8 ounces lump crabmeat

1 / 3 cup chopped celery

2 avocados, halved and pitted

In a medium bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, herbs, red wine vinegar and pepper. Using the flat side of a knife, smash 2 chopped cloves of garlic with a pinch of salt; whisk the paste into mayonnaise mixture. Stir in crabmeat and chopped celery. Divide the crab salad among avocado halves. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Note: For a lower-fat recipe, use low-fat sour cream instead of mayo.

— From Everyday with Rachael Ray, August 2010

CAPRESE-STUFFED AVOCADO

Serves: 4 as a main dish or 8 as an appetizer

1 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes, cut into halves

8 ounces or ½ pound of fresh mozzarella pearls or ciliegine

½ cup basil garlic oil, adjust to taste (recipe follows)

4 avocados, halved, pitted and peeled

Salad greens (such as arugula, baby kale, spinach, butter lettuce, basil)

4 to 6 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar reduction, to drizzle, adjust to taste (recipe follows)

Salt and pepper to taste

Place tomatoes and mozzarella in a bowl with the basil garlic oil, then mix well. Place peeled avocado halves on a plate over salad greens. Spoon filling into the avocado halves. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar reduction, season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.

Basil Garlic Oil

1 large bunch of basil, or about 2 cups of packed basil leaves

½ to 1 cup of olive oil, adjust as desired

1 to 2 garlic cloves, or more to taste

Salt to taste

Place all ingredients in a blender or mini-food processor, and process until smooth. Taste and add additional salt or olive oil as desired.

Note: The basil garlic oil can be used immediately or refrigerated until ready to use. For freshest flavor, use within 24 to 48 hours.

Balsamic Vinegar Reduction

2 cups balsamic vinegar

1 lightly crushed whole garlic clove (optional)

A few sprigs of herbs (such as thyme, oregano, basil) (optional)

1. Place balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until the vinegar has reduced by at least half, about 30 minutes. For a thicker, glaze-type sauce, cook until it’s reduced to ½ cup.

2. As soon as the balsamic reduction reaches the desired consistency and concentration level, remove it from the heat, and let it cool. If you added crushed garlic or herbs you can remove them with a slotted spoon or strain the reduction. Place in container or bottle and use as needed.

— From laylita.com



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