Who says you can’t cook an avocado? We’re so accustomed to using it raw, for that silky texture it brings to sandwiches, salads, grain bowls, tacos, smoothies, ice creams, gazpachos and more, but rarely do you see dishes that involve heating it. (A wonderful exception is the fried-avocado taco, a thing of beauty I first tried at Torchy’s Tacos in Austin.)
Avocados take particularly well to grilling, indoors or out. Cut them in half, scoop out the pit — but leave on the peel — and char them for just a few minutes on the cut side, then turn them over and turn down the heat to warm them through. If you’ve done this on a charcoal grill (or a gas grill with wood chips), they soak up some smoke flavor beautifully, but either way, their flesh becomes even more custardy with the application of heat.
How to use them, then? Any of the ways you would use a raw avocado, for sure, but I liked the looks of a recipe in the new “VBQ: The Ultimate Vegan Barbecue Cookbook” by Nadine Horn and Jorg Mayer (The Experiment, 2018). Horn and Mayer top their avocado halves with a duo of beans (lima and kidney) quickly stewed in a bourbon-spiked barbecue sauce. They start with their own from-scratch sauce, but in the weeknight spirit, I cheated with store-bought.
You could invert this, of course, and serve cool slices of avocado over these sweet, tart and boozy beans, sprinkled with a cucumber garnish. But if you love avocado as much as I do, why not make it the focus?
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Serve as is for a side dish, or with the grain of your choice as a main.
MAKE AHEAD: The barbecue beans can be refrigerated for up to 1 week; reheat before using.
Adapted from “VBQ: The Ultimate Vegan Barbecue Cookbook,” by Nadine Horn and Jörg Mayer (The Experiment, 2018).
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 large shallot lobe, finely chopped (½ cup)
¾ cup frozen lima beans
¾ cup no-salt-added canned kidney beans, drained and rinsed
¼ cup your favorite barbecue sauce
2 tablespoons bourbon
½ teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika (sweet or hot)
½ teaspoon salt, or more as needed
2 firm-ripe Hass avocados
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup chopped cilantro
½ cup diced cucumber
1 lime, cut into wedges, for serving
Pour the canola oil into a saucepan over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the shallot and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent, for 4 minutes. Stir in the lima (can go in frozen) and kidney beans, barbecue sauce, bourbon, smoked paprika and salt, reduce the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lima beans are tender and the bourbon flavor has mellowed. Taste, and add more salt as needed.
Halve the avocados and discard the pits (keep the skins on). Brush the cut sides with the extra-virgin olive oil.
Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Cook the avocados, cut sides down, until they have dark brown grill marks, for 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, turn the halves over and cook for 5 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center of the avocado flesh comes out hot to the touch.
Place the avocado halves on a platter, cut sides up. Spoon the barbecue beans on each one and top with the cilantro and cucumber. Serve hot, with the lime wedges.
More avocado recipes from Food: