Creative Cooking

Avocado Love: Three Things That Are Not Guacamole

Lifetime Houstonians may not know what a luxury it is to have year-round access to avocados. Three short weeks was long enough for me to learn that there is only so much guacamole one person can eat. With five avocados still ripening in my kitchen, I thought there just had to be another way to use them. Turns out, there are many. Here are three of my favorite alternative avocado recipes.

Pureed avocados make for more than a great dip. Blend two with one garlic clove (minced), the juice of a lemon, crushed red pepper flakes, a glug of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste for a creamy pasta sauce; it is by far the cleanest, fastest and most vegan cream sauce out there. All you need is a cutting board, a knife and a food processor of some kind. I mixed all the ingredients with an immersion blender, adding a cup of pasta-cooking water at the end to thin out the sauce without adding unnecessary oil.

Aside from all the health benefits of a cream-less pasta sauce, the ingredients for avocado Alfredo cost a grand total of $5 at H.E.B. You can adjust the proportions accordingly depending on how many people you are feeding. The above ratios made enough sauce for three hearty bowls, and could probably be diluted with extra pasta water to serve four without compromising flavor or texture.

Fine, I'll admit it: I was tempted to add a can of Rotel to my sauce for extra flavor. Skip it. The sauce has perfect, Alfredo-like texture, with a hint of tang from the lemon juice. The goal here is to steer clear of guacamole, so keep the chopped chiles in the pantry.

Avocados are actually berries, so it shouldn't come as any surprise that they make a delicious ice cream. Turning the fruit into ice cream is easier than you think. All you need is two avocados, one 14-ounce can of coconut milk, two limes and a half-cup of sugar. Most recipes also call for cream, but I skipped it to make the recipe vegan, and it turned out fine. Scoop the flesh of the avocado into a food processor and add the coconut milk, sugar and juice of two limes. Scrape some pulp from the limes into the mix for extra flavor. A dash of salt and a splash of rum are great here if you have them, but not necessary. Puree the mixture and chill in the fridge. Once cold, pour into your ice cream maker and wait.

If you don't have an ice cream maker, don't worry. Joy the Baker comes to your rescue. The cooking blog has a few great suggestions for baking with avocados (avocado buttercream, anyone?), but the most approachable is this avocado pound cake. And though it may be too late to use for St. Patrick's Day, its greenish hue makes it perfect for the holiday. There's always next year.

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Catherine Gillespie