I had a yearning for guacamole today, as one does. Despite there being three avocados in the fridge, no grocery shopping in a few days and a subsequent dearth of tomatoes nixed Plan A. However – and I do love howevers – in the recesses of my brain, I recalled a Middle Eastern alternative. God bless Claudia Roden. “A Book of Middle Eastern Food” was first published in 1968. I bought my copy in 1981, the year I began studying Arabic. Paperback, dog-eared and yellowed, it has traveled with me across the Middle East and into Sudan, where I lived for a year and regularly experimented with recipes from it. Most vivid are my memories of okra (“ba’amia”) cooked on a charcoal “stove” about the size of a small stool, made from beaten metal. When the new edition of “A Book of Middle Eastern Food” was published in 2001, it jumped to the top of my Dear Santa list. The new edition is beautiful but, some of my old favorites are missing from it, not least the recipe for avocado puree that I’m sharing with you today.
As a bonus, I have long been searching for a healthier alternative to mayonnaise-ridden tuna salad, which my husband loves. Sometimes that which you seek has been sitting on your bookshelf for over 30 years. See below for Ms Roden’s variation on this dish with tuna.
Some people are terrified of avocados because they’re perceived to be high in calories and fats. That’s not the subject of today’s blog, so let me give you the quick version. Avocados are a wonderful food, full of the best kinds of fats. Add a little to a meal and you’ll feel full for longer and you’ll function better. I eat at least half an avocado a day, usually more. Often the people who are afraid of them are eating fried foods and a lot of animal products with saturated fat and cholesterol. Avocados are full of good fat and have no cholesterol. They help your brain function. They are your friend. Please enjoy them.
Avocado Puree by Claudia Roden
- 3 ripe avocados
- Juice of 1 lemon, or to taste
- 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed with salt
- 1/2 large mild onion, grated (or zapped in food processor – see below*)
- Ground black pepper
- 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
Cut open and stone the avocados. Scoop out the flesh and mash it with a fork in a bowl. (Ms Roden calls for it to be mashed with a silver fork). Stir in the remaining ingredients and beat to a smooth, creamy paste. Taste, and adjust the seasoning. (An electric blender will give you a smoother puree in no time).
This cream is very rich. Serve it heaped on small crackers or thin toast.
* The recipe calls for the onion to be grated. That part was not fun. I know that famed chef Mario Batali always says “there’s rustic and there’s lazy.” Well, I must fall into the latter category. Grating that onion was ruining the enjoyment of making this delicious dish. So, I pulled out my mini processor and zapped the onion until it was the same mushy texture as that which I grated. And – it didn’t make me cry.
Avocado Puree With Tuna
Mash the flesh of 2 ripe avocados to a puree with a *silver* fork. Drain a 6 3/4 ounce tin of tuna and combine the flaked fish with the avocado puree. Stir in a *little* mayonnaise, season and serve on small crackers or thin toast.