After a diet of deep-fried cheese curds, mini donuts, and corn dogs at the State Fair, I know something fresh and healthy at home always sounds appealing to me. Even if we haven’t overindulged in deliciously decadent delights at that seasonal smorgasbord, including leafy greens with the good fat from avocados is a win-win proposition in our diet anytime. Avocados are a heart-healthy, nutrient-dense superfood: One-third of a medium avocado (50 g) has 80 calories and contributes nearly 20 vitamins and minerals. They are loaded with anti-inflammatory phytosterols, a wide array of carotenoids, and oleic acid, which aids in nutrient absorption. That means they are good for your heart, your joints and even your brain. Many of the avocado’s healthy compounds are right next to the skin, so scoop all the way to the shell, says Twin Cities chef and cookbook author Robin Asbell, who created this recipe for Real Food.
Avocados are a great combination of taste, texture and healthfulness, and she offers these tips to help you enjoy them at their best:
• When selecting avocados, look for fruit with the stem, or “button,” attached because loss of the stem allows the flesh to spoil. Check for a slight give by gently squeezing with your whole palm to avoid damaging the fruit.
• If you want avocados for the weekend, buy them the week before and allow to ripen at room temperature. When they start to soften, refrigerate until ready to use.
• To easily peel an avocado, cut it in half, twist out the pit, then cut in long quarters. Use a paring knife to strip the skin off each slice.
This salad is a study in green—from the crisp romaine leaves to the creamy avocado dressing sprinkled with crunchy pistachios. For a colorful counterpoint, suggests Asbell, serve alongside steamed carrots or a plateful of pasta with red sauce.
Green Goddess Salad with Avocado
Makes 4 servings
1 cup fresh parsley, stemmed
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 medium avocados, divided
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 small romaine hearts, chopped
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and sliced
2 large scallions, slivered
1/2 cup unsalted roasted pistachios, coarsely chopped
1. For the Dressing: Using a food processor, pulse parsley and garlic to finely chop. Halve, pit, and scoop 1 avocado into jar and puree, scraping down sides and repeating as necessary. Add vinegar, salt, and yogurt, and process until smooth.
2. Place romaine in a large bowl, drizzle over half of dressing, and toss to coat. Divide evenly among 4 plates. Cover with cucumber.
3. Halve and pit remaining avocado and use a paring knife to slice flesh in shell. Using a spoon, carefully scoop out intact slices and divide evenly among salads. Sprinkle with scallions and pistachios and drizzle with remaining dressing. Serve immediately.
Nutrition info (per serving) Green Goddess Salad with Avocado: CALORIES 248 (153 from fat); FAT 18g (sat. 3g); CHOL 2mg; SODIUM 339mg; CARB 18g; FIBER 9g; PROTEIN 8g