Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Reeds: The Summer Avocado

While everyone is rhapsodic about the emergence of stone fruit, tomatoes, and melons--all that marks quintessential summer food--I'm blissed out over the arrival of Reed avocados.

Think of these as summer avocados. Fuertes are beginning to fade away with the season. Bacons are now months away. And, okay yes, Hass are everywhere almost year round -- but Reeds are a rich, buttery delight of an avocado in the form of a softball-sized globe. Like the Hass, they have a thick peel, easy to remove. And, my experience is that the seed also easily separates from the flesh. I've read that this variety remains firm even when ripe, making it a lousy candidate for guacamole, but I haven't experienced that.

In fact, one of my favorite ways to enjoy Reed avocados, is smashed on toast for breakfast. And, of course, I top it with a sprinkling (heavy handed) of Tajin. The salty and sour (thanks to dehydrated lime) qualities of the Tajin complement the gentle flavor and richness of the Reed.

Atkins Nursery of Fallbrook grows them. I found their stall at the Friday evening  Mission Hills farmers market on Falcon St. The other local grower who has them is Paradise Valley Ranch. They're at the North Park, Little Italy, and Pacific Beach farmers markets.

Looking for a unique guacamole? When chef Jesus Gonzalez ran the kitchen at Rancho La Puerta he introduced what he calls "Aztec Guacamole," which includes peas to boost the nutritional content and reduce the fat. It creates a slightly different flavor from traditional guacamole, but that creamy goodness from the avocado remains and you have a healthier, irresistible sauce perfect for dipping and topping tacos and tostadas on a sultry summer night.

Aztec Guacamole
Makes 2 cups

1 cup frozen peas, slightly thawed
1 medium avocado, peeled and pitted
2 tablespoons fresh lime or lemon juice, or to taste
1 medium tomato, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 red or sweet onion, cut into 1/8-inch dice
1 jalapeño or serrano chile, seeded and minced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon  minced fresh garlic
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

1. In a blender or the bowl of a food processor, process the peas until smooth.
2. In a medium bowl, mash the avocado with a fork or potato masher. Add the juice, tomato, onion, jalapeño, cilantro, garlic, salt, and black pepper. Add the peas and mix well.
3. If the guacamole won't be served immediately, press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface to prevent browning.

Variation: Instead of peas, use 1 cup of well-cooked broccoli, edamame, or cooked asparagus tips.

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