Whether you’re strictly vegan, a version of vegetarian or are simply trying to eat more plant than animal products, avocados add that element of richness, creaminess and a sense of luxury to meals.
Avocados can be used in both sweet and savoury cooking – substitute butter for mashed avocado on a 1:1 ratio in all your baking and it still comes out a treat! Or use it to make vegan basics – avocado easily replaces the egg in mayonnaise and other emulsified sauces.
They can be the star, like an al-fresco lunch of avocado halves filled with a caprese of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil, spritzed with balsamic; or a jewel-like topping for everything from vegetarian chilli to sushi. And let’s not forget guacamole – every food’s best friend!
Various studies have shown that eating a plant-based diet – and yes, that does mean avocados in your daily meal plan – can help reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancers and may even have a positive impact on emotional wellbeing. And here we were thinking it was just the delicious, satisfying flavour of avocados that made us smile!
Luckily the South African avocado season is now in full swing and will run up until November. Look out for green-skinned varieties of Fuerte, Edranol, Ryan, Reed and Pinkerton, which remain green when ripe – the stalks come away easily to indicate ripeness, so please don’t squeeze – and the dark-skinned Hass, Maluma Hass and Lamb Hass, which turn an amazing purple-black to show they are table and toast ready.
If you’re yet to experience the versatility of avocados, try the Guacamole Tagliatelle or Honey roast autumn veg with avocado dressing below. You’ll be hooked!
You’ll need: 300g tagliatelle or pasta of your choice; 2 large ripe avocados, peeled and stoned; 4 spring onions, chopped; 30g coriander, chopped; 2 cloves garlic, grated; 1 chilli, chopped (optional); pinch of ground cumin; pinch of smoked paprika; juice and zest of 1 lemon; 200g cherry tomatoes, halved; salt and pepper, to taste; avocado or olive oil, to drizzle; extra lemon to squeeze over
Boil the pasta in salted water according to the instructions on the packet.
While the pasta is cooking, place one avocado in a food processor or jug of a stick blender, with the spring onions, coriander, garlic, chilli, cumin, paprika, lemon juice and zest. Whizz to a smooth consistency.
Drain the pasta and reserve a ½ cup of the pasta cooking water. Toss the hot pasta with the avocado sauce. If the sauce is very thick it can be thinned down with some of the pasta water.
Cut the remaining avocado into cubes.
Serve immediately in warm bowls with cherry tomatoes, chopped avocado, seasoning, sliced chilli (if using) lemon wedges and a drizzle of avocado oil.
HONEY ROAST AUTUMN VEG WITH AVOCADO DRESSING
You’ll need: Avocado or olive oil to drizzle; 1,5kg autumn vegetables: such as carrots, butternut, sweet potato, baby turnips; 2-3 stalks thyme, picked; 15-30ml honey; juice and zest of 1 orange; salt and pepper, to taste
For the avocado Salsa Verde dressing – 2 ripe avocados, peeled and stoned; 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped; 15g flat-leaf parsley plus a little extra for garnish; 15g mint or basil, or a mix of both; 30ml capers, drained and patted dry; 2 anchovy fillets (optional); 30ml red wine vinegar; 125ml avocado or olive oil; 30ml wholegrain mustard
How to: Preheat the oven to 200˚C and add a drizzle of the oil to a large baking tray. Place the vegetables on the baking tray and toss with the thyme, honey, orange juice and zest, and season well.
Roast until tender and slightly charred, about 25 – 30 minutes.
To make the Avocado Salsa Verde: combine one avocado with the remaining ingredients in a food processor and blend. Slice the other avocado to serve.
Serve the roast vegetables on a platter arranged with slices of avocado and drizzle with the avocado Salsa Verde dressing and extra flat-leaf parsley.