Avocado dips are tasty items for casual entertaining


Published: Tuesday, January 24, 2006 at 2:08 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 24, 2006 at 2:08 p.m.

These dips made with creamy Hass avocados are special because of their taste - your choice of three savory combinations - but also because of their texture.

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This photo provided by Avocados From Mexico shows three variations on a basic Avocado Dip Mexicano. From top, they are Fiesta Avocado Dip, Mexican Spinach Dip and Avocado Crab Dip. These dips made with creamy Hass avocados are special because of their taste but also because of their texture. The avocados are cubed and left chunky, to scoop up in hearty mouthfuls on celery and carrot crudites, or to pile on tortilla or potato chips, crusty toasts or crackers.

AP Photo/Avocados From Mexico

The avocados are cubed and left chunky, to scoop up in hearty mouthfuls on celery and carrot crudites, or to pile on tortilla or potato chips, crusty toasts or crackers.

This makes it important to choose perfectly ripe avocados. Unlike other fruits, avocados don't ripen on the tree: They are harvested green. Some stores carry ripe avocados; If only green avocados are available buy them several days ahead to make sure they have time to ripen before they will be used and keep them at room temperature until they soften.

A green avocado will ripen in 3 to 7 days. Putting it in a paper bag will speed ripening; adding an apple or banana to the bag will make it even faster. Your ripeness test: Hold the avocado in the palm of your hand and gently squeeze. If the avocado yields, it's ripe. Ripe avocados can be refrigerated for several days until ready to use.

You can find Hass avocados all year round. Their pebbly-rough skin darkens to nearly black as they ripen. Two Hass avocados (about 1 pound) peeled and pitted make 1 1/3 cups of mashed, or 2 to 2 1/4 cups diced avocado.

Health note: Avocados contain mostly monounsaturated fat (considered "heart healthy"), compared with the sour cream, cream cheese or mayonnaise, containing saturated fats, which are often used in dips.

The recipe for a Mexican-style dip that follows has three suggested variations, different enough for it to be interesting to offer all three when you're feeding a group, to suit varying tastes.

Avocado Dip Mexicano

1 fully ripened Hass avocado

1 tablespoon chopped green onion (scallion)

1 teaspoon lime juice

1/4 teaspoon minced garlic

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Cut avocado in half lengthwise around the pit; twist to separate the halves. Strike the pit with the blade of a sharp knife, and remove pit. Cut the flesh into cubes; using a large spoon, scoop flesh out of skin into medium bowl. Gently toss with green onion, lime juice, garlic, salt and pepper, being careful not to mash avocado.

Makes about 1 cup.

Nutrition information per 2 tablespoons: 38 cal., 0 g pro., 2 g carbo., 4 g total fat (0 g saturated), 1 g dietary fiber.

Variations:

Fiesta Avocado Dip

In a small bowl combine one-half of the Avocado Dip Mexicano with 2 tablespoons shredded pepper Jack cheese, and 2 teaspoons each chopped sun-dried tomato and finely diced jalapeno. Gently fold in remaining Avocado Dip Mexicano, keeping avocado chunky; garnish with additional diced avocado and thin slices of jalapeno, if desired.

Makes about 1 cup.

Nutrition information per 2 tablespoons: 46 cal., 1 g pro., 2 g carbo., 4 g total fat (1 g saturated), 1 g dietary fiber.

Avocado Crab Dip

In a small bowl combine one-half of the Avocado Dip Mexicano with one 6-ounce can well-drained and flaked crabmeat, 1/3 cup softened cream cheese, and 2 tablespoons each minced celery and chopped fresh chives. Gently fold in remaining Avocado Dip Mexicano, keeping avocado chunky. Garnish with additional diced avocado and chives, if desired.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Nutrition information per 2 tablespoons: 60 cal., 3 g pro., 1 g carbo., 5 g total fat (2 g saturated), 1 g dietary fiber.

Mexican Spinach Dip

In a small bowl combine one 10-ounce package frozen, thawed and drained chopped spinach with 1/2 cup sour cream, 3 tablespoons minced onion, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, 1/2 teaspoon salt and dash ground red pepper. Gently fold in Avocado Dip Mexicano, keeping avocado chunky. Garnish with avocado slices and dill sprig, if desired.

Makes about 1 3/4 cups.

Nutrition information per 2 tablespoons: 42 cal., 1 g pro., 2 g carbo., 4 g total fat (1 g saturated), 1 g dietary fiber

(AP recipes developed in Lewis & Neale kitchens for Avocados from Mexico)

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