- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Plentiful supplies of Hass avocados are available for summer recipes. The pear-shaped variety with a pebbly skin ranging in color from dark green to almost black is special because of its taste and texture.

When it’s ripe, the avocado’s pale yellow-green flesh is creamy smooth and full of flavor. How to tell when that is?

Color is one clue — the skin turns dark green as the avocado ripens.

Softness is another: If the avocado yields to gentle pressure, it’s ready to use.

Keep firm avocados at room temperature until ripe; placing them in a closed paper bag speeds up the process. Ripe avocados can be kept in the refrigerator for several days.



Avocados play a leading role in the following recipe from Avocados From Mexico for a gazpacho variation that can be served in its traditional form as a cold-soup starter or even a light lunch course but is easily converted into a main course with added seafood and garnishes.

Avocado gazpacho

The preparation time is 20 minutes.

3 fully ripened Hass avocados, halved, pitted, peeled and diced

2 cups peeled, seeded and diced cucumbers

3/4 cup chopped fresh tomato

½ cup chopped onion

14½-ounce can ready-to-serve chicken broth

1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice

1½ teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ cup coarsely broken tortilla chips

Cilantro sprigs for garnish, optional

Remove ½ cup diced avocado for later use.

In a blender, place half the remaining avocado and half of cucumbers, tomato, onion, broth, lemon juice, salt and pepper; whirl until smooth; place in a bowl; repeat.

To serve: Spoon gazpacho into four soup bowls; in the center of each, spoon a small mound of the reserved ½ cup diced avocado and sprinkle with chip pieces. If desired, top each serving with a cilantro sprig.

To prepare up to one day ahead, follow recipe up to serving directions. Cover surface of soup directly with plastic wrap; refrigerate. When ready to serve, continue as directed above. Makes 4 servings, about 5 cups.

VARIATION

To convert to a main-dish cold soup, omit the tortilla chips and use:

1 pound cooked, shelled medium shrimp (about 24)

6-ounce can lump crabmeat, drained or ½ cup fresh lump crabmeat (about 4 ounces)

Sliced scallion for garnish, if desired

French or Italian bread

Goat cheese or cheese spread, as desired

Set aside 12 shrimp for garnish, then chop the remaining shrimp and stir them into the soup along with the crabmeat. Some crabmeat can be set aside for garnish also, along with scallions.

Serve with slices of crusty French or Italian bread spread with a pepper-coated goat cheese or herbed or garlic-flavor cheese spread.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

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