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What to Do With a Perfect Avocado

Category: Food & Drink,Lifestyle

A perfect avocado is a lucky find. Neither granite-hard nor squishably soft, it should yield only slightly when pressed, maintain its integrity when sliced, and feel like butter on the tongue when eaten.

Sadly most of the avocados I bring home fall short in all kinds of fibrous, mushy, black-speckled ways.

The mediocre ones get trimmed to salvage the good parts, and then smashed into guacamole, other dips or onto those ubiquitous slices of toast, in order to hide their disfigurement.

But when I do get some good ones, I like to show them off. Sliced into crescents and fanned out on a plate, they become the heart of a stunningly simple, elegant salad.

Mellow and creamy, avocados work well with pungent, bright flavors. Here, I drizzle them with a salsa verde-like dressing seasoned with red wine vinegar, a little chile, some garlic and piquant herbs. Then, for more texture and freshness, whole herb leaves are strewn over the plate along with briny capers for a salty bite. That’s it — no lettuce, no tomato, no onion, nothing to distract from the avocado’s glory.

Serve it as an appetizer or side, with grilled or roasted meat or fish, or make it the foundation of a light lunch with chunks of a torn baguettes and soft, tangy goat cheese.

To get the neatest avocado slices, halve them, twist the pieces off the pit, and cut the halves into quarters. Carefully use your fingers to peel off the bumpy alligator skins, starting at a corner. Using this technique on ripe fruit, the skins will pull right off without bruising the flesh beneath. Use your sharpest knife for slicing.

Though it’s best to cut up the fruit close to serving, you do have some wiggle room. Sliced and kept covered at room temperature, they’ll last for about an hour or so. The dressing can be made 6 hours ahead. Store it at room temperature as well, so the herbs retain some of their texture. Then assemble everything on plates just before serving.

Because avocado quality can be so dicey, I’d suggest buying a couple extra just in case one ends up a dud. Worst-case scenario: You only get nice ones, and have to eat an extra avocado the next day.

Here’s my recipe for that leftover good one: Halve it, salt it and drizzle it with lime juice or hot sauce. Then eat it with a spoon for breakfast or a snack. Perfection can be as simple as that.

Recipe: Avocado Salad With Herbs and Capers


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