Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Dinners With Friends: Avocado Edition

Here we are a week into the new year, and I'm sure we've all heard our share of the uncomfortable laughter regarding diets and exercise plans that have already failed in the face of time and energy consuming obstacles like work, family, and the fact that Netflix automatically starts the next episode of Breaking Bad 14 seconds after the end of the one you just watched.

So let's focus on a success story for just a minute. When my friend Krisha told me three years ago that she was going vegan, I nodded and smiled the way you might nod and smile at a five-year-old who announces that she is going to ride her pony into outer space.

But she seems to have stuck it out for the long haul, making me glad I didn't have any money riding on it. You can read more about her experiences on her blog, Made From Real Vegans.

A few nights ago, we made dinner together, using a recipe for Superfood Salad from Iowa Girl Eats
Featuring black beans, pomegranate seeds, onion, quinoa (we substituted brown rice) and a lemon vinaigrette dressing, this salad has enough different flavors to keep every bite interesting, and enough heartiness to avoid that feeling of eating rabbit food that so often is the trademark of an ill-thought-out vegetarian meal.

The real secret ingredient, however, was the avocado. Avocado is one of those foods whose texture makes me vaguely uncomfortable. It took me forever to even accept the idea of guacamole. So I went into this dinner with the thought, "There's so much else in there, maybe I won't even notice the avocado." To my surprise I ended up thinking it was one of the better parts of the salad, and caught myself trying to grab an extra piece on every forkful.

The great thing about avocado is it's the quintessential "good" fat, with a greasy, hearty taste that can be used as a substitute for cheese or condiments on sandwiches. I hear it's also great as an ingredient in cake frosting! I guess it's a case of learning to use that somewhat creepy greasy texture in a way that makes sense. It's still going to be quite awhile before I just eat a naked avocado.

Shoulda cleaned stove before I took this picture.
So I'm thinking, as a new feature on the blog, I'm going to host a dinner party once a month featuring an ingredient that scares me. Or better yet, an ingredient that scares YOU! So go ahead and admit it in the comments section. Tell me what challenges you want me to take on. Whether it's something you've always hated that you'd like to revisit, or something you're just not sure how to prepare. Bonus points if it's specifically with the intention of accommodating a dietary restriction.

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