Avocados are currently in season here on Kaua’i. Trees we see around are loaded, and there are mounds of them at the farmers’ market. We found some beautiful big ones this past week at the farmers’ market and decided to spend a little extra and pick up a couple so I could make this yummy salad. The recipe comes from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa. I saw her show one day several years ago when she prepared this to serve with grilled blue cheese burgers and I knew immediately I had to try it. It quickly became one of our favorites and is a great accompaniment to everything from burgers to fish. The salad comes together quickly and is easy to make all year as avocados are available everywhere these days, year round (we can even easily find them in Japan now), as are cherry tomatoes and peppers. I’ve even added shredded chicken in the past (shrimp would be great too) to turn this into a main dish salad, and served along with corn chips for an easy warm-weather meal.
The secret to making a great guacamole salad is to make sure the avocados used are perfectly ripe, and not mushy, so that they don’t fall apart or collapse in the salad. Ripe avocados should be judged by two characteristics: color and feel. A ripe avocado will most likely be dark greenish-black, but not always so it’s important to also use feel to test for perfect ripeness. A ripe avocado will give slightly to firm but gentle pressure using the palm of your hand (not the fingers). An unripe avocado will not give at all, and an overripe one will feel mushy and give easily to the slightest pressure. Also, check avocados for bruises and soft spots as they may indicate rot or overripeness. Unripe avocados can be ripened by placing in a dark cabinet for 4 -5 days, one that isn’t opened frequently (just don’t forget them, which I have sadly done more than a few times).
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 1/2 tsp grated lime zest
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 tsp crushed garlic
- salt & pepper to taste
- (optional) 1/4 tsp ground cumin
- 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1″ pieces
- 1 1/2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
- 1/2 cup diced red onion
- 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 ripe avocados, cut into 2″ cubes
- 1/2 – 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- (optional) 1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and veins removed than diced
Blend together the lime juice, lime zest, olive oil, garlic, salt & pepper and cumin (if using) and set aside. In a large bowl lightly mix together the yellow pepper pieces, tomato halves, red onion, black beans, jalapeño pepper (if using), and chopped cilantro. The salad can be chilled at this point, if desired. Just before serving, cut the avocado and place the cubes in the bowl, pour the dressing over everything and gently toss to blend the salad (over-mixing will make the avocado mushy).