Smashed, blended or even griddled, gorgeously green, creamy avocado is a nutritional powerhouse. Eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner and even in dessert. Check out these fresh ideas and make it your new favourite fruit.
A perfectly ripe avocado is a beautiful thing. This soft, creamy fruit tastes great no matter what form it's in: blended, blitzed, smashed or smoothied. Native to Central America, the avocado has boomed in popularity over the last few years and with good reason. Despite a reputation for being calorific and fatty, the avocado is rich in monounsaturated fats which can lower the risk of heart disease and cholesterol levels. Read more about the health benefits of avocado and discover the nutritional highlights. Popular in veggie cooking, it's ideal for meat-based dishes too. Avocados are the green that keeps on giving...
How to tell if an avocado is ripe
Get to know your avos. UK supermarkets only stock a handful of the many avocado varieties, the most popular being Hass, Fuerte and Pinkerton. Here's how to spot the finest fruit on the shelves:
The squeeze test:
Other than slicing it open, there's no definitive way to tell if your avocado is perfectly ripe, but there are telltale signs you can look out for, one being the firmness of the avocado. Give the fruit a gentle squeeze, it should have a little give, but shouldn't be soft or mushy. Don't worry if you cut it open to find it's not quite ready, you can always cook your avocado in one of the recipes below. If your fruit doesn't pass the squeeze test, you can ripen avocados in the fruit bowl, ideally next to a bunch of bananas which will speed up the process.
The stem test:
The other method for telling if your fruit is ready for eating is by looking at the colour under the stem. Pick off the tiny brown stem at the top of your avocado; if it comes away easily and there's a nice vibrant green underneath, you're good to go. If it's stubbornly clinging on and the skin underneath is brown, your avocado's overripe and the flesh won't be at its best.
Varieties of avocado
The most popular variety worldwide, it is medium-sized with a thick, dimpled green skin which turns to purple-black when ripe. The flesh is creamy and smooth.
Longer and thinner than Hass, Fuerte has a smooth vibrant green skin, which peels easily when the fruit is ripe. The flesh is a lighter colour than the Hass but just as creamy.
Generally larger than its cousins, the Pinkerton is only just beginning to make its debut on supermarket shelves. The skin is very thin, slightly lighter than a Hass in colour, similar in shape to the Fuerte but offering more creamy flesh.
What goes well with avocado?
The beauty of avocado is that it's so versatile and goes well with a myriad of flavours. Sweet and savoury, strong or mild, you name it, avocado is the perfect pairing. Get a taste of this beautiful green fruit with our top 5 avocado toast recipes, they make a delicious way to start the day.
10 new ways to eat avocado...
1. Avocado smoothie
Avocado makes a great green base for any fruity smoothie and packs in extra nutritional goodness. Make sure to blend well so you don't end up with a guacamole/smoothie hybrid. The addition of avocado to smoothies adds a slightly nutty flavour. Give it a go with our kale smoothie or try a creamy breakfast drink with our avocado & strawberry smoothie.
2. Avocado chocolate mousse
This simple chocolate pudding doesn't skimp on flavour. Avocado naturally lends itself to blending, with its neutral taste and creamy flesh, it's perfect for swirling into a beautiful dessert. Our chocolate, peanut butter & avocado pudding makes for a deliciously palatable pot.
3. Avocado muffins
We all know avocado is a great savoury snack but try something different. Bake up a batch of these sweet potato, avocado & feta muffins – a great way of using up any ripe avocados languishing in the fruit bowl.
4. Avocado pasta
Smash up your avocado into a tasty green dressing for pasta. The naturally buttery soft flesh won't overpower other flavours. All it takes is a sprinkling of parmesan and a couple of fresh basil leaves to serve up a special supper, like our wholewheat spaghetti & avocado sauce.
5. Avocado lollies
There are endless puds and treats that don't even need baking; avocado is perfect for these. Just whip them up then store in the fridge. Our key lime pie has a raw crust and zesty dairy-free filling that's so sumptuous, you'll keep coming back for more. Or, make our creamy avocado lollies for a refreshing summer dessert.
6. Stuffed avocado
Pack your avocado with the filling of your choice for an easy snack or light lunch. Spruce it up with crab, chilli and mustard, serve it warm with sundried tomatoes, olives and spring onions or tuck into veggies, beans and cheese for a really quick, protein-rich dish.
7. Avocado sushi
Avocado makes a great addition to any sushi roll. It might look intimidating but making sushi at home is surprisingly doable, try your skills out with our smoked salmon & avocado sushi. These rolls make an ideal lunchbox filler or bite-sized canapé. Put together a colourful sushi seleciton with our rice & quinoa prawn sushi bowl or our delicate beetroot & avocado nori rolls.
8. Griddled avocado
If you've got a pack of rock hard avocados that refuse to ripen, this is the perfect solution: our sticky citrus chicken with griddled avocado & beet salad. Use a small knife to cut away the skin, place your avocados on the griddle and they'll be soft and smoky before you know it. Plus, the charred lines on the flesh gives them an interesting new look.
9. Avocado and chilli
The archetypal way to serve up avocados: au naturel. It doesn't need much to take it from zero to hero, just a few chilli flakes and a squeeze of lime. Chilli avocado will be your new go-to snack satisfyer in no time. It also counts as 1 of your 5-a-day.
10. Avocado chocolate cake
Avocado makes a great chocolate cake, creating an irresistibly soft and squidgy result. Who knew?! It's also luscious in frosting, simply whip up with icing sugar and cocoa powder. Don't believe us? Try this chocolate avocado cake.
Get more vibrant recipe inspiration from our best ever selection of avocado recipes.
What are your favourite avocado recipes? Share them with us in the comments section below...