Enjoy Avocados Before They Ripen

Avocado time, even if they aren’t ready for guacamole.

By Kevin RR Williams

RECIPE We've all been there before. Purchase some firm avocados so they won't quickly spoil in hopes that the next day we can prepare something delicious like guacamole.

Two days later they're stiff. Day three? Still firm. You can accelerate ripening by placing a banana in a brown paper bag with the avocados. [1] But what about today? There's a way to enjoy the avocado's fruit without the suspense. How?

Avocado

Two words: Grill it. Yes, firm avocados can be grilled, baked, roasted or fried in tempura batter. Ideally, the avocados should not be rock hard but firm, perhaps a few days from ripe. To satisfy that immediate craving, halve one, slice through the firm flesh, not the skin. Then use a tablespoon to scrape along the inside of the skin and remove the meat of the fruit.

Rumor is floating around the Web that unripe avocados are poisonous to humans. According to MIT university nutritionist Anna Jasonides, R.D., this notion is pure fabrication. The "persin" within avocados, in sufficient quantity, may be harmful to some animals but does not harm non-allergic humans. [1-3]

Grilled

Heat some olive oil in a pan. Sprinkle the avocado slices with salt and pepper. And what were those two words? Grill it! You can even dust them with parmesan cheese if you like. Now you have some flavor-enhanced avocado that would go perfectly in Diana's Spinach Avocado Grilled Cheese sandwich pictured.

Don't Forget The Pesto

Parmesan

Grilled cheese sandwich with pesto is absolutely fabulous! The flavor comes from the pesto so you will miss the experience entirely if you leave it out. What? You've never made pesto? Many people buy it in a jar but if you have a blender, olive oil, basil, garlic and parmesan cheese, you can whip some up pretty quickly. Do you like nuts? Drop some pine nuts or walnuts in the blender too. There are actually many variations of pesto sauce just like there are variations of grilled cheese. I have made a pesto sauce with a combination of basil and arugula. Once, I even replaced the basil with red and yellow bell peppers for something colorful. Pesto sauce is very forgiving. The sidebar includes an easy fresh basil pesto recipe from Simplyrecipes.com.

Get Your Grill On

For the grilled sandwich, you again have latitude with the selection of greens and cheese. Missing spinach, I used kale. Feta and mozzarella will give you a nice bite of flavor with that gooeyness you crave. But if you have jack, munster or harvarti, don't scrap the project. However, if your refrigerator has somehow inherited processed American cheese and bleached white bread, abort the mission. Make it A Bit More Healthy. Use whole wheat bread and get some real, gourmet cheese.

Likely, you know how to get the cheese to melt properly. As a kid, I used to put American cheese slices on white bread and heat them in the broiler. Sacrilege. That's not grilled cheese. It's a broiled cheese sandwich, and a bad one at that. You grill in a pan. The skillet is still warm from grilling the avocados so melt some some butter in the skillet. Lightly brown two slices of bread on medium heat. Flip them over so the hot sides are up and lower the heat. Add cheese to each. Arrange additional ingredients on one slice of bread. Now top with the other cheesed slice. After about 90 seconds flip on the other side to finish browning.

Now you're a pesto and grilled cheese expert. You'll be eating grilled cheese sandwiches for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Have fun with the Spinach Pesto Avocado Grilled Cheese, A.K.A. Green Goddess Grilled Cheese Sandwich. Of course, you can also enjoy the sandwich with ungrilled, ripe avocado.

Whip out your adjectives and describe the flavor in your comments below. Perhaps the dietitians will chime in with all the nutritional benefits of the cheese, avocado, olive oil and whole wheat bread. There's some obvious omega-3, fiber and protein in there. Come back later when the avocados are ripe to find a great guacamole recipe with a twist you're going to love.

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References
  1. Ask Lucy: Are unripe avocados toxic to humans? medweb.mit.edu ^
  2. Persin. wikipedia.org ^
  3. Cooking Myths. avocado.org.au ^