Everyday Cooking

1 Bag of Avocados, 5 Dinners

June  3, 2013

Put time into dinner now, and you can make it last forever -- or at least the whole week. Welcome to Halfway to Dinner, where we show you how to stretch your staples every which way.

Today: Erin Gleeson from The Forest Feast invites avocado to every dinner for a week.

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When I lived in Brooklyn a couple years ago, I loved our seasonal CSA subscription, but it was limited at times. Since moving to a cabin in the woods of Northern California, I am blown away by what comes in our CSA box every week! Citrus all winter, tomatoes in the spring -- but I'm most impressed by the avocados that come year round. Since I get a bag of them weekly, I've really had fun sneaking them into lots of meals. Here are some of my favorites.

Sesame Tofu Noodle Bowls with Almonds, Avocado & Cilantro
Top quick-cooking rice noodles with a handful of fresh herbs (I use basil and cilantro), browned tofu, and an entire half of an avocado. Yes, an entire half. I dress everything with a snappy, savory vinaigrette of olive and sesame oils, soy sauce, and rice vinegar, and throw a few slivered almonds on top for crunch. Pay attention to the cavity of each avocado -- it deserves a little extra dressing. 

Grapefruit Edamame Salad with Avocado & Pomegranate
This is a fresh and colorful salad that's filling, thanks to the edamame and avocado. On a bed of arugula, place chunks of pink grapefruit, slices of avocado, a handful of edamame, and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds (dried cranberries work, too). For the dressing, mix olive oil, a squeeze of grapefruit juice, a pinch of salt, and a bit of honey, to taste. If you're going all out, serve alongside this Carrot Ribbon Fettucine.

Whole Pepper Tacos with Red Quinoa & Avocado
I got these sweet peppers from my CSA box last week and roasted them up on a baking sheet for 20 minutes at 400º with just a drizzle of oil and a pinch of salt. So much flavor comes through when that's all you use! They weren't as big as bell peppers, so one fit perfectly inside each corn tortilla. (If you use bell peppers, just trim a bit.) Add quinoa to each taco (I had some leftovers in the fridge -- that stuff multiplies!), along with avocado slices and your favorite hot sauce. Salt to taste and enjoy, perhaps with a cocktail or two.


Avocado Pesto Stuffed Peppers
This is the fastest side (or party appetizer) I know. (I serve mine alongside this Heirloom Tomato and Parmesan Quiche.) Just mash 2 very ripe avocados in a bowl with a few tablespoons of pesto, and pipe it into cleaned, seeded sweet peppers. Steal a few as you prep. 

Quinoa with Avocado, Tomato & Sausage
I love this dish because it's so simple -- quinoa is usually faster to cook than rice, and I like it better, to boot. This dish is also great for a barbecue or picnic because it works equally well at room temperature and warm. Cook and brown slices of sausage in a pan, then top the quinoa with them. Add fresh slices of avocado and tomato. Dress up the dish however you like -- I found grape leaves at the farmers market recently and went wild.  

Avocado Pesto Stuffed Peppers

Serves 4 to 6

10 small sweet peppers
2 ripe avocados
2 tablespoons of your favorite pesto

See the full recipe (and save it and print it) here.

Photos by Erin Gleeson

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  • Erin Gleeson
    Erin Gleeson
Erin Gleeson is a food photographer and blogger for The Forest Feast, www.theforestfeast.com, which she started after moving from NYC to a cabin in the woods. Her photos have appeared in numerous magazines, newspapers and cookbooks including The New York Times Dining Section and The James Beard Foundation, and her first cookbook, The Forest Feast, comes out next year (Spring 2014, Abrams). More of her work can be seen at www.theforestfeast.com.


Nomnomnom June 3, 2013
Like the other commenters, I am enjoying incorporating avocado into more meals. But I have a nagging problem that an avocado aficionado might be able to quash. How do you select an avocado at the store. They seem to be either rock hard, or rotten. And sometimes the ones that seem "good" end up being bad when you cut them open. I try to purchase the organic ones as often as possible and have tried, with some success!, buying the rock hard ones and keeping them on the counter next to bananas to ripen. But this method has also failed. Much obliged for any advice!
Erin G. June 3, 2013
Oh, interesting! Yes, mine are from my CSA (the quivalent of farmer's market avocados) and I never have that problem. But I have noticed the same issue with ones from the grocery store- so this is a good tip!
Nomnomnom June 3, 2013
Thanks Trena and Erin. Would that I could buy an avocado at the farmers market! Sadly they do not grow around Chicago. I place the unripe avocados near bananas or other fruit so their gas can ripen up the others. That works best, but not always. Cheers!
Nomnomnom June 4, 2013
I have learned a lot researching avocados recently and thought this might be interesting to other readers as well. First, avocados are climacteric, which is to quickly say they normally ripen off the tree. They do need to reach maturity on the tree, (and there are different ways to measure that) but then may fall off the tree, or can be harvested to ripen later. Scientifically, ethylene plays a role the normal ripening (or aging) process of climacteric fruits. Ethylene is a gaseous organic compound and is also considered a plant hormone. It occurs naturally in plants but can also be synthesized and is used widely in conventional commercial agriculture (not only on avocados). If you are fascinated by this, read on here: http://postharvest.tfrec.wsu.edu/pages/PC2000F There are many avocado cultivars, but in the US the Hass is probably most well-known. It is remarkable to consider that all the commercial Hass avocado trees came from the same mother tree. The "fresh" avocados in the store should be the hard ones. Conventional commercial gas rooms are used to bring riper fruit to the store, for customer convenience. Putting your avocados in a paper bag speeds the natural ripening process, by trapping the ethylene gas they produce. Adding a tomato, apple or banana--also climacteric fruits--will cause them to ripen faster. So it seems the best option, if you can't get avocados at the local farmer's market, is to buy organic ones from your favorite purveyor, selecting the harder ones since they are fresher, and placing in a paper bag until ripe. Now off to the store to find some!
Kenzi W. June 4, 2013
This is so thorough! Thanks for the help.
fiveandspice June 3, 2013
These all look so perfect! My kinds of dinners. I would be happy to eat an avocado a day as well.
EmilyC June 3, 2013
Love this too. I seriously don't know what I'd do without avocados. They're a working mom's best friend. My kids devour them, and they come to the rescue so many weeknights when dinners are cobbled together. I'm thinking your avocado-stuffed peppers may be just the way to get them to like peppers!
The C. June 3, 2013
I could eat avocados all day every day. Love these recipes (and Erin too)
Marian B. June 3, 2013
So could I! Sometimes I do.
Erin G. June 3, 2013
thanks, me too! :)