I adore dishes that can be made in 10 mins or under. Here is an easy pasta dish – delicious – that is the perfect week night dish. It is great for lunches too, if you are at home. Put the pasta on to cook, dice the avocado, make the herb oil, mix all together and serve.
Although avocados are native to Mexico and Central America, Australians fell in love with this fruit sometime in the last decade, and it is served in homes and cafes across the country. It is hard to imagine life in the kitchen without them. One would think that they were native to Australia.
Avocados marry beautifully with a wide range of ingredients — the traditional ones from their home lands but also more modern combinations. From Guacamole to Dips and Mashes, Avocado Salads, to Avocado Soups, they are a much loved ingredient.
Avocados are available all year round thanks to the different varieties grown in Queensland and Northern New South Wales, and the imports from close neighbours. The peak season here is from March to November.
The avocado is a pear shaped fruit with many varieties. It is a more recent addition to the cuisine of the Middle East, and is popular in Israel too, where it was introduced from the USA in the 20th century.
Sometimes, simplest things are the best. Avocados shine when perfectly ripe and drizzled with salt, black pepper and freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice. Or spread it on wholemeal toast spread with real butter and drizzle with sweet chilli sauce. They say it’s a good hangover cure!
This household was eating avocados long before they became de rigueur in the Australian cafe sub-cuisine. This is how we have been making guacamole since the 1990’s.
The most basic guacamole is simply avocado mashed with garlic, lemon, salt and pepper. The velvety texture of avocado, and the zing of the lime that cuts through the smoothness just as you’re getting comfortable with it. Then comes the bite of the garlic. The flavours blend beautifully together and yet at the same time, all flavours are distinctly identifiable.
The good thing is that the basic recipe can be endlessly varied. We include a number of variations in our recipe below – tomato, coriander, chilli, sour cream, yoghurt – all manner of things can be added to the basic blend. You can vary guacamole so each time you make it, it is different.
Some say that leaving the avocado stone in the puree will prevent discolouration. My view is that if the guacamole’s around long enough to find out, you’re not doing it right.
This recipe is one of the vegetarian recipes from our first blog which was in existence from 1995 – 2006. Feel free to browse other recipes from our Retro Recipes series.
Guacamole | Mexican-Style Avocado Salsa
2 ripe medium avocados or 1 very large one
juice 1 lemon or 1 – 2 limes
2 – 3 cloves garlic, minced
sea salt and black pepper to taste
optional additions prior to mashing or blending – if mashing, dice or grate the onion, fresh chilli and tomato finely, or if blending, chop coarsely
mayonnaise, creme fraiche, sour cream or yoghurt
1 small tomato
chilli powder to taste, or 1-2 fresh green chillies
a little white onion
leaves from 4 – 5 springs fresh coriander, chopped
optional additions after blending
0.5 – 1 green or red pepper, diced
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 small cucumber, finely diced
pitted olives, chopped
1 tomato, diced
Gather together the basic recipe ingredients and any additions to be added prior to mashing or blending. Mash or blend in a food processor or blender until creamy.
Add any further additions after blending (if any) and stir. It is best not to double up on ingredients – for example, if you add onion prior to blending, don’t add chopped onion after blending.
Taste, and adjust seasonings (chilli, lemon, salt, pepper). Serve with tortillas and corn chips.
recipe notes and alternatives.
Mashing the avocado with a fork or back of a spoon can produce a chunky guacamole (I love it!), or use a blender or food processor for a smooth one.
Avocados are the darling of Australian cafes and homes. Available all year round, there are peak seasons for the popular varieties. Salads, mashes, salsas and soups are the most popular uses, but smoothies, cakes and even warm and baked avo are all possible. (For the record, I am not sure about warm or hot avocado 🙅♀️🙅♀️🙅♀️)
In avocado season they pile our fruit bowl high – we are such lovers of them. Honestly we can eat them straight out of their shell. In Summer we make cold avocado soups, all year round we mash and spread them, and they pile into our seasonal salads.
Our snack today is a guacamole type mix with a spicy tomato salsa on the side, and some thick sour cream. We have some great bread from the local baker, and we crisped it in an oven that was still hot from roasting brussels sprouts! It is better than fresh bread for this mix, but you can also toast or grill the bread, or use crackers or corn chips. Whatever floats your boat.
There is so much good stuff in this “almost superfood” salad that it makes you feel very healthy and conscientious indeed. Served as it is, it can be a very substantial meal – just scatter a few roasted hazelnuts and/or chunks of creamy goat’s cheese over the top, and you need nothing else.
Did you know that I grew up calling beetroot, red beet? That name seems to have disappeared in Australia, although a quick search on google confirms that at least some people, in some parts of the world, retain that name. I wonder if it came from my mother, whose family contained many German immigrants. Perhaps it is a European thing.
The star of this dish is indeed the blanched then quick-pickled beetroot, and its contrast with the slightly bitter pea shoots. Rather than the hour-long boil or bake, eating beetroot raw or quickly sauteed or blanched is a healthy and very delicious alternative. The beetroot retains a bite or crunch that adds textural layers to a dish. Everything can be prepared in advance for this salad, kept in the fridge, and combined at the last moment.
This is an Ottolenghi dish from Plenty More – we are cooking our way through this book. We feel free to substitute ingredients that are not readily available in our local area.
Only in Spring could you get away with having a dish this green!
And what a great crop of broad beans we have had this year – they have grown extraordinarily well and we have had enough to freeze as well as make all of our favourite broad bean dishes. In the early part of the season we pick them small and eat them whole, or podded without being peeled. As the season continues, we let them grow larger for a different more meatier taste. This way we can have them for 3 – 4 months without getting sick of them. Today I picked 2.5 kg of the large ones. Podded and peeled, we are making this Avocado Bean Mash with some, and the rest go in the freezer for Summer and Autumn.
Note that, because my broad beans are home grown, they are still tender at this stage. Beans bought from a green grocer are likely to be tougher if very large. Look for the smaller beans. With my home grown beans, I used around 850g unpodded beans to get 250g podded and peeled beans. Yours might be different. Perhaps buy around 1kg to have enough.
This is another recipe from Ottolenghi’s new book Simple. It’s the second one we have made from his new book, and love the lightness and simplicity of this dish. It is a great dip and spread – use it as a mezze plate, a snack in front of the TV, or as nibbles with a glass of wine and group of friends before you head out on the town. There is no garlic in it, so you’ll be right.
It is Ottolenghi Cooking the Books Day on the blog – one of 1 or 2 days per month where we publish the latest recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi’s books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by. Currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. We’ve been a bit distracted by Simple. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.
Browse all of our Broad Bean dishes and all of our Dips. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Simple are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through Plenty More. Or explore our Mid Spring recipes.
Polenta crisps and polenta chips are the modern way to cook polenta, and both are jolly good. The polenta is cooked to a thick mass which is spread out on trays to firm up. It is then cut to shape and fried. I can’t tell you how moreish they are, totally addictive. And when used to scoop up an avocado, yoghurt and lime dip they are even more so.
This is an Ottolenghi recipe from his book Plenty More. In the scheme of Ottolenghi recipes, it is relatively easy, just needing time to let the polenta cool. We are cooking our way through this book. We feel free to substitute ingredients that are not readily available in our local area, but the only change we have made to this recipe is to add some chopped curry leaves into the polenta. You can leave them out if you wish.
Not using polenta very much? Grab that packet from the back of the cupboard; these polenta crisps should do the trick: they’re very easy to make and even easier to eat.
It is Ottolenghi Cooking the Books Day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish the latest recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi’s books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by. Currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.
Similar recipes include Onion and Chilli Polenta, Polenta Chips with Charred Tomato Sauce, Butternut with Buckwheat Polenta, Peter’s Wet Polenta and Tomatoes, Avocado with Tomato-Chilli Salsa, and Pea and Mint Croquettes.
Browse our Polenta dishes, our Dips, and our Avocado recipes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Late Winter recipes.
Avocado has been so popular for the past decade that it is almost passé. But here we love the out of favour but full of flavour recipes, so in the dying moments of the avocado obsession, we bring you a keeper recipe – avocado salsa with the flavours of lemon, chilli, tomato and coriander. Enjoy!
There are oodles of ways to use this salsa – on toast, with corn chips, to top a lentil salad, for example. We have included 2 ways – serve as a snack or appetiser with fried tortilla crisps, or atop a salad of new potatoes.
Today’s salad is Middle Eastern in style – fresh ingredients, simply sliced and served at every meal. It features feta – get some of the creamy feta from your Middle Eastern shop if you can. We have used fresh herbs from the garden, but feel free to use baby spinach, rocket and any soft herbs that you have at your disposal.
You can add some olives too, to make it more of a Greek Mezze salad.
Similar recipes include Goat’s Milk Feta with Pine Nuts and Preserved Lemon, Cucumber, Feta and Mint Salad, Broad Beans with Feta and Lemon, and Baked Eggplant with Feta.