How to Pick the Perfect Avocado (And a Recipe to Use It)

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Summertime is made for easy entertaining and these Sweet Potato Nachos are absolutely that! Every part can be made in advance and then quickly warmed (grill or oven) and assembled just before guests arrive. But because there are only three parts to these nachos - sweet potato “chips”, salsafied chicken and the reason that we have the chip to begin with…guacamole - every part needs to be great on it’s own which means you have to know how to pick out the best avocado.

The Avocado Problem

Based on Instagram alone, I know that I am not the only avocado addict. With all the healthy fats, vitamin C and other goodness they bring to the table (literally…ok, they don’t literally bring it but you know what I mean) it’s not surprising. We now have been given license to eat something that both tastes good and is a bit naughty in the fat sense. I average at least half an avocado a day and get twitchy and start planning a grocery run when I’m down to only two or three. But how do you know which one to pick?

How to Pick Out the Perfect Avocado

Here’s my secret…there is not a perfect avocado in the store. I have just figured out the hack that allows me to almost always - let’s say 95% of the time - open a perfect avocado after I’ve followed these steps. (Note: this applies to the typical Haas variety that most US grocery stores have.)

  • Pick out green or dappled black/green avocados that just barely have a “give” to them. You don’t want to be able to press into them at all, but you don’t want them rock hard. (I’m looking at you, bags of avocados at Costco!)

  • Protect them in your shopping cart and bags until you get home. If you ever did that egg thing to see if you were going to be a good parent, pretend the avos are your egg.

  • Set them on your counter until they are completely dark green and you can easily press into them but not they are not mushy. Check them everyday when they start turning from green to really dark green.

  • Put them in the fridge in a place they won’t be touched when they get to that stage. I have them in the top shelf of my fridge door.

  • Start the countdown. They usually have 3-4 days in the fridge before they start to develop black veins and spots. If they feel bumpy or super soft, they are pretty far gone.

What If the Avocado Has Spots

You’ve followed all the steps, but then suddenly you had the opportunity to go to the beach for a few days and, though they were in the fridge, the avos developed spots. You can still use them as long as there is some areas of the avocado that are still that signature green color inside. Cut out any veins (they are hard) and any spots then mash whatever is left. Sometimes this ends up being a wash and you get nothing but sometimes you will have just enough for that one piece of toast.

I would love to hear from you.

Tell me your favorite ways to use avocados. Here’s one of mine.

Sweet Potato Nachos

1 tbsp sea salt

1 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp oregano

3 large sweet potatoes

Coconut Oil

3 cups shredded, cooked chicken (rotisserie or leftover grilled chicken is great)

1 cup salsa (your favorite or my salsa verde is great with this)

1 bunch cilantro, chop half finely and reserve other half for garnish

2 large or 4 small avocados

2 cloves minced garlic

2 tbsp chopped green onion (scallion)

juice of 1 lime

sea salt to taste

  1. Mix together sea salt, smoked paprika and oregano in a small bowl.

  2. Preheat oven or grill to 425 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the sweet potato slices with enough coconut oil to coat. Arrange on prepare baking sheet and sprinkle with salt mixture. Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes or until bottom of sweet potatoes are golden brown. Flip and bake for another 6-8 minutes or until brown and crisp on edges.

  3. While sweet potatoes are baking, heat the shredded chicken with the salsa.

  4. Mash the avocado and mix with garlic, chopped cilantro, green onions. Add lime juice and sea salt to taste to complete the guac.

  5. Remove the larger leaves from remaining half bunch of cilantro and set aside. (Wrap the rest in a clean kitchen towel to use another time.)

  6. Top each sweet potato slice with a little of the chicken mixture, a spoon of guacamole and cilantro sprig to garnish.

Make Ahead: Grill or bake the sweet potatoes until they are just barely soft. Make the guac and store with plastic wrap touching the surface to avoid browning. Heat the chicken and finish grilling or baking the sweet potatoes 15 minutes before guests arrive then assemble just before serving.