With over-indulgences in high-calorie foods, in-laws in town, and hectic schedules, the holidays are a busy time for restaurateurs and patrons alike, which often places health priorities on the backburner. However, this busyness doesn’t always equate to people skipping their visits to restaurants. In fact, the holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year for the restaurant business, making this the perfect time to infuse your menu with nutrition-rich avocados to ensure your patrons are eating delicious food while consuming a source of good fats.
Worried that these jolly green fruits won’t easily integrate with the seasonal taste-profile? Worry not — there are several ways to incorporate avocados in a way that adds beautiful color and silky texture while remaining taste-profile appropriate. Avocados From Mexico are also available year-round, making avocados the gift that keeps on giving.
Avocado Lime Meringue Cookies (serves 16)
7 large egg whites
Zest of lime
Juice of 2 fresh-squeezed limes
1 ¼ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch sifted
Whipped Cream Filling:
1 ½ heavy cream
8 ounces Mascarpone cheese, chilled
1 Avocado From Mexico halved, pitted, meat scooped out and completely mashed
3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
16 sliced strawberries
1. Preheat oven to 200F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In the bowl of a standing mixer, whip the egg whites, lime zest, and juice on medium speed until frothy — about 3 to 4 minutes.
3. Start adding the granulated sugar slowly, about 2 tablespoons at a time, until completely combined and mixture holds a stiff peak — 2 to 3 minutes more. The meringue should appear white and glossy.
4. Remove the bowl from the stand; sift the cornstarch over the meringue and use a rubber spatula to gently fold in to completely incorporate.
5. Using a large soupspoon, drop generous scoops of meringue onto the prepared baking sheets; each one should be about 2 to 2 ½ inches around. As you drop them, you will be able to make some nice wavy patterns in the batter.
6. Bake for 30 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 175F
7. Let the meringue dry in the oven for another 4 to 5 hours. The outside should be crisp, and they should be easily removed from the parchment.
8. Set aside to cool completely.
9. In the bowl of a standing mixer with the whisk attachment, whip heavy cream and mascarpone cheese on low speed for 2 minutes or until very soft peaks form. Be careful not to over whip or the mixture will harden.
10. Add the mashed avocado and confectioners’ sugar and continue to beat for about 3 minutes or until soft peaks form.
11. One by one, make meringue sandwiches. Place an individual round meringue with the top down and add about 3 generous tablespoons of avocado whipped cream. If using strawberries, add sliced strawberry in the center before placing another individual round meringue, right side up, on top.
Avocado Soup (serves 6)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups white onion roughly chopped
1 cup cilantro leaves and upper part of stems only
3 ripe Avocados From Mexico halved, pitted, meat scooped out and diced
5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice or to taste
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt or to taste
1 1/2 cups crumbled tortilla chips pita chips, or bread croutons
1 cup queso fresco farmer’s cheese or mild feta, crumbled
1. In a medium skillet set over medium-low heat, heat the butter and oil. Once the butter melts and begins to sizzle, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it has completely softened, its color has gone from white to translucent to barely tanned. It will be about 15 minutes.
2. Incorporate the cilantro, stir, and cook just until the cilantro wilts, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat.
3. Place the avocado meat in a blender or food processor, along with the cooked cilantro and onion. Also add the broth, lime juice and salt. Puree until smooth.
4. If you want to serve the soup hot, heat the broth prior to pureeing. You may also serve it at room temperature, or you may prepare it in advance, cover, and store in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours and serve chilled.
5. You may garnish with the tortilla crisps or croutons and cheese, or place the garnishes in bowls at the table, and let your guests add as much or little as they please.
Mac ‘N’ Ado (serves 1)
1 cup Avocado Mornay (recipe follows)
3 cups cavatappi pasta, prepared
½ teaspoon pancetta, diced
½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Avocado mornay ingredients: (makes 2 cups)
1 ½ cups sliced Avocados From Mexico
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 ½ cups milk, warmed
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoons white pepper
3 ounces parmesan cheese
1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly until the roux is pale yellow and frothy. Do not allow to brown. Slowly whisk in milk until well incorporated. Add salt, pepper, and Parmesan. Whisk until cheese is completely melted and well incorporated.
2. In a food processor, process avocado for three minutes until consistency is smooth and pureed, reserving ½ cup avocado for topping. While food processor is running slowly add in the Avocado Mornay.
3. In a medium sauté pan over medium heat, sauté the Avocado Mornay and cavatappi pasta until heated through.
4. Add pancetta and tomatoes to coat with sauce. Transfer to serving dish and top with avocado chunks.