Q: I just love avocados, but I struggle to find different recipes that are easy and fun. Can you help me?
A: First used in Mexico some 10,000 years ago, avocados are also known as the alligator pear because of their greenish color and rough skin texture. Avocados always have been associated with good health. A doctor once told me that if I ate half the avocado and used the other half as a facial, I would improve my skin both from the outside, as well as the inside. They can help lower cholesterol, reduce your chance of heart disease and are one of the few fruits that provide good fats.
Below is my recipe for a Chilled Crab Salad topped with Almond-Crusted Avocado, as well as recipes for Avocado Croutons and two salsas to accompany the salad (Charred Red Tomato Salsa and Roasted Green Tomato and Avocado Salsa)
Chilled Crab Salad topped with Almond-Crusted Avocado
For Crab Salad:
5 oz. lump crab
3 oz. King crab
2 T red pepper, diced small
2 T red onion, diced small 2 T celery, diced small
3 T cilantro, chopped Juice from one lime
2 T sour cream
DIRECTIONS: Mix crab with all ingredients. Be careful not to break up the lumps. Chill until ready to serve.
1 ripe, slightly firm avocado
Juice from one lime, divided
1 c all-purpose flour
4 eggs, beaten
4 c sliced, blanched almonds
Vegetable oil for pan-frying
DIRECTIONS: First, remove the stem from your avocado. (This is a hard stem that could break a tooth.) Using a knife, push through the skin until it comes to the large seed in the center. Slowly cut the avocado around the seed, working your way completely around it. Holding both halves in your hand, slowly twist each half in opposite directions until the halves are separated. Remove the seed and skin on both halves. Slice avocados lengthwise into four to six pieces. Squeeze half a lime over the avocado and add a pinch of salt. Let marinate while you set up your breading area in three parts: flour with salt and pepper, eggs with lime juice, and almonds crushed by hand. Place each avocado piece in flour and coat evenly. Tap off excess flour and place into egg mixture. Coat thoroughly. Press into crushed almonds. Coat evenly and place on sheet pan. It is ok if some of the green avocado is showing through. Pan-fry in heated oil until nuts become golden brown. For a healthier option, toast avocados in a 375-degree oven until brown. Serve atop crab salad.
2 ripe, slightly firm avocados
2 c flour AP
6 eggs, beaten
4 c Panko bread crumbs
Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste
DIRECTIONS: First remove the stem from your avocado. (This is a hard stem that could break a tooth.) Using a knife push through the skin until the knife comes to the large seed in the center. Slowly cut the avocado around the seed working your way completely around the seed. Holding both halves in your hand slowly twist each half in opposite direction until the halves are separated. Remove the seed.
Remove the skin and dice into large dice. Squeeze half a lime over the diced avocado and add a few pinches of salt. Let marinate while you set up your breading area which is in three parts.
1. Flour with salt and pepper.
2. Eggs with lime juice
3. Panko bread crumbs
DIRECTIONS: Place diced avocado in flour and coat evenly. Tap off excess flour and place into egg mixture. Coat thoroughly. Remove and drain excess. And roll into bread crumbs. Coat evenly and place on sheet pan. Pan-fry until golden brown. Serve warm over your favorite Caesar Salad. Or dip them into your favorite salsa as a snack.
Note: If you want them a little healthier you can toast them in a 375 degree oven until brown. You can also make them ahead of time and freeze them until you need them.
Charred Red Tomato Salsa
6 Plum tomatoes (cut in half and grilled)
2 Jalapeno peppers (grilled and seeded)
1 White onion (sliced and grilled)
4 Garlic cloves
½ tsp Chipotle powder
½ tsp Cumin
Salt to taste
DIRECTIONS: Puree in blender until smooth. Reserve.
Roasted Green Tomato and Avocado Salsa
2 Large Green Tomatoes
4 Garlic cloves
½ Small white onion diced
1 Lime juiced
Salt to taste
DIRECTIONS: Hard roast tomatoes, garlic and onions in 400 degree oven for 30 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven; while still hot, place in blend until smooth add avocado, lime juice and salt. Reserve.
Note: Tomatoes, garlic and onions may start to look burnt. This is ok. Skin on the tomato should blacken and crisp up. This will help you get that authentic Mexican flavor.
Chef John Johnson is River City Casino executive chef. Do you have a recipe request for Chef John? Email him at John.Johnson@rivercity.com.