published Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Side Orders: Guacamole a great use for heart-healthy avocadoes

I've started adding avocados to my shopping list every week, buying them when they're still firm, then letting them ripen in my kitchen windowsill. Getting two or three each week lets me have them ripe and ready for several meals. When I have too many ripe ones, I make guacamole. They're just so good for you, with lots of heart-healthy fats and vitamins.

Here's a delicious-sounding recipe from Fine Cooking magazine that I plan to try when my guac supply becomes overburdened. For extra flavor, I'll be making my own chips.

If you have more recipes using avocados, I'd love to have them for a story. E-mail them to me at abraly@timesfreepress.com.

Guacamole With Roasted Chile, Cumin and Feta

1 small fresh green New Mexico or poblano chile

1 medium lime

3 medium firm-ripe avocados, pitted and peeled

3 medium scallions, white and light-green parts only, chopped

5 tablespoons fresh cilantro (or parsley if you don't like cilantro)

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

Kosher salt

1/2 cup medium-dice fresh tomato

2 radishes, slivered (about 2 tablespoons)

1 tablespoon crumbled feta

Store-bought or homemade chips (directions follow)

With burner set to high on gas stove, place chile directly over flame, turning with tongs, until completely charred, 5-8 minutes. Alternately, turn oven broiler to high and char the chile on a baking sheet placed directly under the broiler. Put the chile in a bowl, cover and set aside to steam and loosen the skin. When cool enough to handle, peel, seed and finely chop.

Finely grate the zest from the lime and squeeze the juice. Put the avocado in a bowl and coarsely mash with a potato masher. Stir in the lime zest and 2 tablespoons of the lime juice along with scallions, cilantro, cumin and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Season to taste with salt and lime juice, then fold in chile and tomato. Heap guacamole into a bowl and garnish with radishes and feta. Makes about 2 cups. Serve with chips.

To make chips: Get a 10-pack of 6-inch tortillas and cut them into 6 wedges each. Pour 2-3 quarts of peanut or canola oil into a 6-quart pot to a depth of at least 2 inches. Heat oil to medium-high heat. When it's hot but not smoking, drop one tortilla into the oil. If the oil is hot enough, the tortilla will float to the surface and brown in about a minute. If it's not hot enough, the tortilla will sink. Fry as many chips as you can without overcrowding, then transfer with a slotted spoon to a paper-towel-lined plate. When finished frying all chips, put warm chips in a clean paper bag, add 1/4 teaspoon salt, close the bag and shake gently to season. Season with more salt, to taste, if desired.

New on the market ... Have you tried those great new Pieces candies from Hershey? They're just like the popular Reese's Pieces, only now you get a world of new flavors: Almond Joy, York peppermint patties and Hershey's Special Dark chocolate. The only problem? They're addictive, and it's very simple to grab a handful and pop them in your mouth, followed by another handful and another. So be sure to watch your portions. I particularly love the tiny York peppermint bites because sometimes the flavor of a big peppermint patty is too overwhelming. The York Pieces are just perfect.

Think you make a good hamburger? If so, enter Sutter Home Winery's Build a Better Burger contest. This year, the grand prize has been increased to $100,000. Ten finalists will be selected from the thousands of entries that the contest judges expect to review. They will be flown to Napa Valley, Calif., to compete in the burger grilling cook-off on Sept. 25. For contest entry rules, visit www.sutterhome.com. Wouldn't it be great to have a finalist from this area? The deadline for getting your recipe in is July 31. So get creative, start grilling and send a recipe in.

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