I am a proud Californian — born, raised and have lived here the majority of my life, and I love my home state. I’ve been up and down the entire state and have seen gorgeous beaches, tall mountains capped with snow, ginormous redwoods, large cities and tiny towns, forever-seeming deserts — did I mention beaches?
I could go on and on about the Golden State, but what I really want to share with you about California that you may not know is that we are an agricultural mecca. While there are patches of agriculture across the state, much of it comes from Central California.
Actually, California not only provides the rest of the country with much of its produce, many cities across the state have made a name for themselves — Gilroy (in NorCal) is the garlic capital of the world; the Salinas Valley (also in NorCal) is the “salad bowl of the world” because it is one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world, producing lettuce, artichokes, strawberries, spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, among other produce; Castroville (in Monterey County) is the artichoke capital of the world; and Fallbrook (in San Diego) is the avocado capital of the world.
The humble Haas avocado is what we’re mostly known for — it’s our state fruit. Before the ban was lifted back in the ’90s (Mexico is [and was] the world’s largest producer of avocados), all the avocados in the United States came from California. Since I grew up in SoCal, I had them at my fingertips, but people back in New York or Florida weren’t as luck because avocados don’t grow year round. Now that the U.S. gets a large portion our supply from Mexico, as well as Peru, Columbia and even South Africa, we can now eat avocados almost year round.
Avocados have sky rocketed in popularity in the past couple of decades probably because now they’re easily accessible. They’re a superfood, full of vitamins and nutrients — not only do they taste good, but are good for you, too. Best of all, there’s so much you can do with avocados — salads, dips, spreads, guacamole (of course), smoothies, spring rolls, soups, mousse and because I am from California, you can even do — avocado margaritas!
Haas avocados (the most common found in stores) are easy to identify by their distinct oval shape and dark green outer shells. Personally, I love avocados because the texture is rich, melt in your mouth, yet the flavor is so subtle and mild. You can brighten up so many dishes with avocados and from savory to sweet dishes, your possibilities are left to your imagination.
I took the ever-so-popular guacamole and put a spin on it, creating the GuacaBLT. See, I love BLTs and guacamole is up there on my list so I put the two together. This dip is great on nachos, tacos, burritos and you guessed it — put it on your next BLT sandwhich.
4 thick pieces of bacon, cooked, diced small (or crumbled)
2 ripe Haas avocados
1/4 cup lettuce sliced into 1/4″ strips
2 tablespoons tomatoes, diced small
2 teaspoons cilantro, chopped fine
2 teaspoons green onions, chopped small
2 teaspoons grapefruit vinegar **
1 lime, juiced
Black pepper and Kosher salt
Cut the avocados in half, remove the pits and scoop out the flesh and into a medium bowl. Add the lime juice and mash with a fork, leaving the avocados chunky. Add the bacon, tomatoes, lettuce, cilantro, green onions and vinegar and mix gently. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Refrigerate for 15 minutes before serving.
** As I’ve raved in previous blogs, I can’t get enough of fruit-flavored balsamic vinegars. In this recipe, I used a grapefruit balsamic vinegar, but don’t worry, if you haven’t ordered a bottle or found one at your local store, just add lime juice. Start with the lime juice that’s already in the recipe and then add a teaspoon at a time to your taste. Enjoy.