World's easiest vegetable dish
Worlds easiest vegetable dish
Many friends and acquaintances who know of my healthy eating focus have asked me for quick and easy ways to add super nutrition to their diet without sacrificing flavor. That's what I am all about when it comes to preparing food. You can have the most nutritional food in the world sitting on your plate but if doesn't taste good you are probably not going to eat it . I say "probably", because my husband would! He is the healthiest eater I know except for myself. It pays off for him. He has boundless energy, perfect body weight and an awesome attitude. I, of course give myself almost all the credit! But I realize many of you have spouses who are not such good eaters and may be less inclined to eat enough healthy green veggies. One tasty veggie that finds its way on our dinner plate very often is the avocado.
The avocado is native to Central Mexico. In fact, Mexico is the biggest producer. The United States is third just behind Indonesia. It is in the same flowering plant family as cinnamon, camphor and bay laurel. Although, I called it a vegetable in my title, it is really a fruit.
You can buy avocados at practically any grocer in the U.S.. They range in price from 99 cents to $1.99 apiece depending on how far it traveled and the time of year (if they are in season they'll be less expensive). To pick a ready to eat that day avocado, you will want to pick it up and hold it with your forefinger and thumb and apply gentle pressure. You don't want to over squeeze and leave brown spots on the fruit for the next person, so be careful. It should yield to gentle pressure. If you are buying it for in the next day or two, you will want a fruit that is a bit more resistant to your touch. If you get them rock hard, leave them out of the refrigerator. I leave the harder ones in my window sill for a day or two, periodically checking for softness. When they have that perfect amount of yield (with a gentle squeeze) you can just pop them in the refrigerator where they will store nicely for three or four days. Avocados contain about 160 calories , 15 grams of fat , with 75% of that fat being the good monounsaturated kind like olive oil and a touch (2 grams) of protein. But did you know it also contains thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, B6 ,folate(B9), vitamin C, E, and K? This green fruit also contains iron, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus and more potassium than a banana! It can be used in sweet or savory dishes. Now that a healthy food bargain!
For my super simple recipe you will need a very nice balsamic vinegar. I mean the one that has been aged around 25 years and pours out like a syrup. A decent bottle will run anywhere from 35 to 45 dollars. Okay. I heard you gasp out loud! It does sound like a lot but its so worth the investment. A bottle will last months and you can drizzle it on everything from strawberries to pasta. It's the most versatile condiment in my cooking arsenal and has only 45 calories a tablespoon. In most cases you will be using far less than that! All that said, you can buy less expensive bottles of this as well--check your grocer.
The next two items are versatile and last a long time in your spice collection as well. I am talking about black sesame seeds and toasted white sesame seeds. I usually find them in the Asian section of the grocery aisle. I shake them on rice dishes, cooked greens, salads and avocados!
So now you have all the materials. Take a nice sharp paring knife and cut the avocado in half and twist; it should pull apart leaving the pit in one side (photo1). In one of my cooking classes, I was demonstrating this and a student gasped. She explained that every time she did this at home she would marvel at the beauty of a perfect avocado. Ever since then I do, too (see photos 2and 4). Of course, they are all not going to be perfect, so just cut out the brown spots and salvage the rest. You will get pretty good at picking perfect ones if you eat one every day like I do. At this point if you are not going to eat the entire avocado and want to save half for tomorrow you certainly can. Simply wrap the half that has the pit (this staves off the browning that occurs slowly after you cut it in half) in a piece of wax paper and store it in the refrigerator. If you are using the whole thing you need to get the pit out. All the chefs say just take a big knife and hold the avocado at an angle and take a good whack with the knife. The pit will embed in the knife and pull out nicely. Grant you this does work and looks very showy, but I personally think if you don't have the knife skills of a trained chef, then you may want to try one of two other methods. You can take a wine opener and screw the opener end into the pit and pull it out or you can just run a spoon around the pit and just flip the pit out. The wine bottle opener method leaves a prettier presentation. Now take your paring knife and cut slices down the avocado long way (photo 5), then turn and cut slices the short way (photo 6). This will give you nice little squares or you can just leave it in slices. Take a spoon and run it between the fruit and the rind and push in and around until the entire fruit comes out on to your serving plate(photo 7,8 and 9). You then drizzle on the balsamic vinegar and sprinkle the avocado with the 2 kinds of sesame seeds (photo 10). Voila! Quick, easy and tasty--the vegetable portion of your dinner is complete! Enjoy.