Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Avocado "Pudding"

So, you have a recipe (say, Tuna Avocado Ceviche) that calls for 1/2 an avocado. No matter how well you wrap it up, even if you sprinkle it with citrus juice, that other half is just never going to be the same the next day. So what, pray tell, do you do with it?

Make dessert, of course!


No, I'm serious.

Avocado's a fruit, and the buttery taste and texture are just as at home with sugar as they are with savory citrusy applications. In all of 2 minutes, you can have a cool, refreshing pudding-like concoction that will be unlike anything you've ever had before, but you'll want to make it again and again. No pictures this time - lumpy green glop isn't particularly photogenic, even if it is delish!

Avocado "Pudding"
Serves 1


  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • splash of vanilla extract
  • splash of milk (non-dairy milks work well, I used almond milk)
Put avocado half in a bowl and begin mashing with a fork. Sprinkle sugar on the mashed avocado and mash some more - the sugar crystals help cut into the avocado flesh so it mashes easier. When the avocado is pretty well smooshed, splash the vanilla extract into the bowl and a slightly bigger splash of milk and mix well. You're looking for a pudding-y consistency, so if it's not quite there, keep adding splashes of milk and mixing until it's the consistency you'd like. If you're a perfectionist, I suppose you could do this in the food processor, but I don't mind the lumps. If you have more patience than I do, chill the pudding in the fridge until it's really cold, or just grab a spoon and CHOW DOWN!

Tuna Avocado Ceviche

Ugh. Summer in Massachusetts is very nearly here. Too hot to cook. Too hot to think. Too hot to eat foods warmer than the inside of the refrigerator.

If you've got some time to kill in between prep and eating, then making ceviche is a great way to go. The acid from the lime juice begins to cure the tuna, imbuing it with citrusy goodness. The prep work is minimal - chop, squeeze, splash, mix, and chill. Just before serving, the last ingredient gets diced and added, and voila! A light, refreshing summer meal for those afternoons where it's just too hot to do anything.

Tuna Avocado CevicheServes 1


  • 4-6oz of sushi grade tuna, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 scallions, green parts only, sliced
  • 1/2 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp minced garlic
  • good splash of soy sauce
  • 1 lime
  • 1/2 Hass avocado
Combine all ingredients except for avocado and lime in a non-reactive bowl (Pyrex would be good for this) and squeeze 1/2 of the lime over everything, reserving the other half. Mix well and refrigerate for 1-2 hours. Just before serving, dice the 1/2 avocado and mix into tuna mixture. Combine well and serve immediately, preferably over a bed of greens or spinach. Squeeze reserved 1/2 lime over everything, if desired.
Saturday, May 8, 2010

Indian-Spiced Lamb, Chickpeas, and Spinach

I love Indian food. Unfortunately, Indian food doesn't always love me back - something about all the cream and butter, I suppose. Every so often, I try to make an Indian dish, and up until recently, they all ended up as failures. The turning point was when I visited the Indian grocery store down the road, and came away with bags of spices for a fraction of the price that they were in the supermarket (if the supermarket even had all of them!). Finally, Indian dishes I cooked began to taste similar to their restaurant counterparts, if not quite the same. Close enough!

Many Indian dishes are a bit more involved than the usual Slacker Gourmet fare, but the few I've cooked have given me a better understanding of the spices involved in creating that distinctive Indian flavor profile. Be sure to use spices from the Indian grocery if possible - Indian red chili powder is very different from McCormick's chili powder. A closer substitute would be cayenne pepper - but be sure to start with less than is called for and add more to taste.

Indian Spiced Lamb, Chickpeas, and Spinach
Inspired by Spicy Sautéed Chickpeas with Beef and Cilantro

  • 1 lb ground lamb (or ground meat of your choice)
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained, liquid reserved
  • 16oz frozen cut-leaf spinach
  • 1-2 tsp vegetable oil, for sautéing
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3/4 tsp red chili powder (cayenne pepper would be an acceptable substitute, start at 1/4 tsp and add more to taste)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • a couple squirts of lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • plain lowfat yogurt, for garnish
Heat oil in a large pan or wok over high heat. When oil shimmers, add cumin seeds, and fry for about a minute, until they darken slightly and start to pop. Add ground meat, season with some salt and pepper, and use a spatula to break it into bits. Brown for about 3 minutes, then add the chickpeas (you did remember to reserve the liquid for later, right?). Let the meat and chickpeas cook together for another 7-10 minutes, until the meat is fully browned and the chickpeas darken a bit.

While the meat and chickpeas are cooking, defrost the spinach in the microwave and squeeze out some of the water. You can throw the frozen spinach directly in, but defrosting it beforehand will speed up the cooking. Once the meat and chickpeas have browned, add the spinach and combine well to heat through. Add the red chili powder, cilantro, and garlic, and pour in the reserved liquid from the chickpeas. Stir to combine, and season with salt and pepper. Let simmer for another few minutes, and stir in a couple squirts of lemon juice to finish. Serve hot, with a good dollop of plain lowfat yogurt (I like to mix it right in to add creaminess and extra tang).

Yes, the instructions for this recipe are a bit longer than the usual Slacker Gourmet entry, but it really comes together quickly - under 1/2 hour from start to finish. For a tasty, warm, and pretty healthy recipe made entirely from ingredients I usually have in my pantry, I consider that a win, and hopefully you will too!