Good thing that the 2021 avo season is in full swing. Why? Because avo’s are definitely an easy way to add that something special to any regular family meal!
The buttery, creamy green-skinned avo varieties Fuerte, Edranol, Ryan, Reed and Pinkerton are available from March until October, and the rich, nutty dark-skinned Hass, Maluma Hass and Lamb Hass from March until November.
Did you know avos are high in copper (33 per cent), a source of fibre (5.3g fibre per 100g) and contain antioxidants?
Copper is known to support immune system function. Fibre is essential for good gut health; around 65 per cent of the immune system is housed in the gut, which regulates immunity and helps to protect against invading pathogens that cause disease. Antioxidants are powerful food components that maintain and regulate immune function, and avos contain the antioxidant nutrients lycopene and beta-carotene.
This season’s family dinner must-haves include oven-baked beef, pork or chicken schnitzel topped with Caprese-inspired sliced tomato, mozzarella cheese, basil leaves, and avo slices.
Also on the menu is a fun avo twist on family favourites – mac and cheese, and meatballs. Give your ho-hum mac and cheese a makeover with an avo cheese sauce topped with avo and coriander. Tired of drowning meatballs in gravy to enhance their taste? Imagine meatballs rolled up with avo, spinach and ricotta, baked to perfection, and served with Greek-style yoghurt and fresh lemon wedges.
SCHNITZEL CAPRESE WITH AVO
You’ll need: 4 crumbed schnitzels, chicken, beef or pork; 1 large ripe avocado, peeled and cut into 16 slices; 8 slices fresh mozzarella cheese; 8 thick slices ripe tomato; 16 fresh basil leaves; 1-2 tablespoons avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil; basil pesto to serve
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Line a baking tray with baking paper and lay the schnitzels on the tray. Top each schnitzel with the slices of tomato, mozzarella and alternate with sliced avocado and basil leaves, drizzle with avocado oil.
Bake according to instruction on the packaging, until the schnitzels are golden brown, and the mozzarella melted.
Serve hot with a dollop of pesto and extra sliced avocado.
AVO MAC & CHEESE
Serves 4 – 6
You’ll need: 500g pasta, macaroni or rigatoni
For the avocado sauce: 2 large avocados, peeled and pitted; 1 clove garlic; 2 tablespoon lime juice; salt and pepper to taste
For the cheese sauce: 2 tablespoons butter; 3 tablespoons flour; 1 ½ cups low fat milk; 1 cup strong white cheddar cheese, grated; salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 180°C and grease a casserole or oven dish. Cook pasta according to recipe or package directions until al dente (to bring out the flavour of the pasta, add salt to the water).
For the avocado sauce: Combine all the avocado sauce ingredients in a food processor or blender. Pulse to break up the ingredients, then use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and pulse again until you have a thick, creamy sauce. Set aside.
For the cheese sauce and assembly: In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat, whisk flour into the butter to form a roux and cook for 1 minute. Whisk the milk into the roux a little at a time until you’ve worked out all the lumps. Bring sauce to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until mixture has thickened, about 6-8 minutes.
Whisk avocado sauce into milk mixture. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, until sauce has thickened again.
Remove sauce from heat. Season with salt and pepper. Add pasta to the sauce and toss until pasta is evenly coated. Pour into an oven dish or casserole and top with white cheddar. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the cheese is golden and bubbling.
Top mac and cheese with extra diced avocado and fresh coriander or flat-leaf parsley and serve immediately.
AVO, SPINACH & RICOTTA MEATBALLS
Makes approx. 24 meatballs
You’ll need: 2 cups baby spinach, rinsed; 500g ground beef mince; 1 large egg; ½ cup breadcrumbs; ½ cup ricotta cheese; ⅓ cup mashed avocado; 2 tablespoons minced or finely chopped onion; zest of 1 large lemon; 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning; ½ teaspoon garlic powder; sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Blanch the spinach in boiling water, drain and squeeze out as much water as possible. Chop the spinach.
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, mix until thoroughly combined.
Using a 1 ½ tablespoon measure ice cream scoop, make about 25 balls and place them on the greased baking sheet, about 4cm apart (wet hands help in shaping smooth balls). If you do not have an ice cream scoop, simply use a heaped tablespoon.
Brush the tops of meatballs with a little avocado/olive oil to prevent drying out in the oven, place on a baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes.
Cook in batches until all done.
Serve meatballs with Greek-style yoghurt and fresh lemon wedges.
For an eggless option, omit the egg and replace it with one whole mashed avocado.