Yotam Ottolenghi’s avocado recipes
Theres something magical about the route you can turn a ripe avocado into a winning dish
My uncle used to have an avocado tree in his garden, and my hazy childhood memories are of an ever-fruiting tree, stooped in the middle of the lawn, with clusters of hefty fruit permanently threatening to bring it down. The bunches lay so low that, even as small children, we could reach them pretty easily. I am not sure why we bothered, though: avocados dont really ripen on the tree, and the fruit was so bitter that any we savoured were instantly spat out; the leading edge of my uncles garden were dotted with damaged avocados, concealed from our parents watchful eyes.
With age, though, came a certain degree of wisdom, and with it an understanding that the avocado is the most marvellous thing, so long as you eat it when it is ready. I always have at least a couple in my fruit bowl, waiting patiently for that moment when a gentle squeezing only yields to my thumbs pressure. The attraction of a ripe avocado, for me, lies both in its wonderfully grassy taste and velvety texture, but perhaps even more so in the fact that you dont need to cook avocado to transform it into a wholesome dish. It can be turned into a salsa, spread, soup or dressing with hardly any difficulty at all, as long as you get the timing right.
Avocado butter on toast with tomato salsa
The butter needs to be very soft, so it blends properly with the avocado. Dont melt it, though, because that will cause it to separate; instead, leave it at room temperature for a few hours. Serves two liberally, or four as a snack.
2-3 very ripe avocados, flesh scooped out( you need about 250 g in total )
80 g unsalted butter, softened and cut into 2cm cubes
3 limes finely grate the zest, then juice, to get 1 tbsp of each
Salt and black pepper
10 g tarragon leaves, finely chopped
10 g dill, finely chopped
200 g cherry tomatoes, cut into halves or quarters
2 tsp capers, rinsed and finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to serve
4 slices sourdough bread
small garlic clove, peeled
tsp cumin seeds, toasted and crushed
Put the avocado and butter in the small bowl of a food processor with half the lime zest, half the lime juice and half a teaspoon of salt( or use a stick blender ). Blitz smooth, rubbing down the sides of the bowl if need be, then transfer to a small bowl with two-thirds of the herbs. Fold in, then refrigerate for 10 minutes.
In a small bowl, mix the tomatoes, capers, remaining lime zest and juice, oil and a good grind of pepper, and set aside until needed.
Grill or toast the bread, then rub one side of each piece with the cut side of the half garlic clove. Leave the toast to cool down a little, then spread each slice with the avocado butter and top with salsa. Sprinkle on the cumin and remaining herbs, add a final grind of pepper and a drizzle of oil, and serve.
Avocado soup with garlic oil
This freshening summer soup will keep in the refrigerator for up to a day. The garlic oil can also be made ahead of time, and will maintain for about two days in a sealed jar, so build extra for drizzling on toast, salads or noodles. Serves four as a first course.
60 ml olive oil
tsp cumin seeds, softly crushed
tsp coriander seeds, gently crushed
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
180 g frozen peas, defrosted
2 very ripe avocados, flesh scooped out
cucumber, peeled( about 160 g net weight ): 120 g cut into rough chunks, the rest finely diced
1 lemon, zested and juiced to get 1 tsp zest and 1 tbsp juice
1 small green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
80 g soured cream
1 tbsp chopped dill
Put two tablespoons of petroleum in a small saucepan with the cumin and coriander seeds, the garlic and a good pinch of salt. Cook gently on a low heat for eight minutes, stirring often, until the garlic softens when mashed with the back of a spoon. Take care that the petroleum doesnt get too hot or the garlic will burn( if it does are beginning to bubble, just take off the hot until its cooled down a bit ).
Put the peas in a blender with the avocado, cucumber chunks, lemon zest, remaining two tablespoons of petroleum, three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt and 400 ml cold water. Blitz until very smooth, then chill.
In a small bowl, mix the diced cucumber with the lemon juice, chilli and a pinch of salt.
Divide the chilled soup between four bowl, top with a spoonful each of soured cream and salsa. Drizzle generously with garlic petroleum and scatter over the dill, and serve.
Gem lettuce with fridge-raid dressing
This dressing came about when I had a loading of herbs in the fridge that needed using up. Dont be too precious about the weight of individual herbs: so long as the total net weight is about the same, youll be fine. Its worth building extra, because it maintains for a day in the refrigerator and is lovely spooned over all sorts of things, from chicken salad and tuna nioise to roast root veggies and tomato and feta salad. Serves four as a side dish.
very ripe avocado, flesh scooped out( 90 g net weight )
3cm piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped( 20 g net weight )
1 small garlic clove, peeled and crushed
2 lemons: finely grate the zest of 1 to get 1 tsp, then juice both to get 3 tbsp
1 green chilli, approximately chopped( deseeded if you dont like much hot )
1 tbsp tahini
85 ml olive oil
10 g basil leaves
10 g tarragon leaves
10 g dill
10 g parsley
10 g coriander
4 gem lettuces, trimmed and cut lengthways into eighths
2 tsp black sesame seeds, gently toasted
Put the avocado, ginger, garlic, lemon zest and juice, chilli, tahini and five tablespoons of oil in the smaller bowl of a food processor. Add a third of a teaspoon of salt, blitz to a smooth paste, then add the herbs. Blitz again and, with the motor operating, slowly add 60 ml water until smooth.
Mix the lettuce with two teaspoons of oil and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt, then transfer to a platter. Spoonful over the dressing, scatter on the sesame seeds and serve at once.