March 8, 2022

Try these trendy tapas with Avo


In 2022 these fabulous finger foods are being given a mini makeover with the addition of the most versatile ingredient of all – avocados!

Tapas, appetisers, antipasti, meze, hors d’oeuvres…call them what you will, bite-sized snacks continue to gain popularity around the world, including right here in South Africa where they’re perfectly suited to our hot climate. In 2022 these fabulous finger foods are being given a mini makeover with the addition of the most versatile ingredient of all – avocados!

That’s’ right, the global appetiser trend that is known for its fusion of flavours and cultural influences, comes full circle this year as creators ‘add an avo’ to these moreish morsels, giving them a whole new look.

Maybe the fact that avo toast held its own as the Instagram foodie trend to follow for more than five years, accumulating nearly two million #avocadotoast posts in the process, had something to do with it. After all, fingers of avo toast are scrumptious nibbles in their own right, right?

Fortunately, there’s no shortage of avos in South Africa, allowing us to easily jump on this trend too. Both green and dark-skinned avos are available here almost all year round, and are equally versatile, delicious and nutritious!

The buttery, creamy green-skinned avo varieties Fuerte, Edranol, Ryan, Reed and Pinkerton are available from March until October, and the rich, nutty dark-skinned Hass, Maluma Hass and Lamb Hass from March until November.

These textures and tastes make avos the perfect tapas partners, as they pair easily with other flavours, hot or cold, and can be sliced, diced or smashed depending on the snack.

Like patatas bravas (that’s spicy potatoes, to you and me) with avocado cream; avocado stuffed piquante peppers; paprika and garlic prawn skewers with avo; and ham or smoked chicken and avo croquettes.

Or tapas toast with avocado toppings, including, sun-dried tomatoes, marinated olives, anchovies, hardboiled egg, sardines and Manchego cheese – avo toast rebooted for 2022!

Both green and dark-skinned avos are perfect for all these appetisers. Remember that green-skinned avos remain green when ripe, while the dark-skinned avos turn purple-black when ready to eat. Even though avocados may vary in colour, shape and size, they are all a source of nutrients and can be included as part of a healthy eating plan.

So, whether you’re plating up true Spanish tapas, Greek-style meze (to ‘taste’), Italian-inspired antipasti (‘starters’), hors d’oeuvres (‘appetisers’) with a French flair, or good old South African snacks, be sure to ‘add an avo’ to the mix.

For further information and avo recipes, visit www.avocado.co.za , or follow on Facebook @iloveavocadoSA and Instagram @iloveavossa

Patatas Bravas (Spicy Potatoes) with Avocado Crème  

Serves 8 – 10 as a starter / tapas

A classic tapas dish, usually served with a spicy tomato sauce. We are elevating it to superstar status with the addition of a delicious avocado crème to balance the fiery sauce. For a shortcut the homemade tomato sauce can be replaced with tomato chilli jam.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 50 minutes

Ingredients:

For the sauce

  • 45 ml (3 tbsp) avocado or olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 x 410 g can chopped tomatoes
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) tomato purée
  • 10ml (2 tsp) smoked paprika
  • 1 chilli, deseeded and chopped
  • 125 ml (½ cup) red wine or sherry vinegar
  • Large pinch of brown sugar
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Chopped fresh parsley, to garnish

For the potatoes

  • 900 g potatoes, cut into small cubes
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) avocado or olive oil
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) smoked paprika
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) mixed dried herbs

For the avocado

  • 2 avocados, halved and stoned
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) avocado or olive oil
  • 125 ml (½ cup) water

Method:

1. For the potatoes; heat oven to 180°C. Pat the potatoes with kitchen paper to dry, then place into a roasting tin and toss with the oil and seasoning. Roast until crisp and golden, about 45 – 50 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally. 

2. To make the sauce, heat the oil in a pan and fry the onion until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, chopped tomatoes, tomato purée, smoked paprika, chilli, vinegar, brown sugar and a grinding of sea salt. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally then lower to a simmer and cook until thickened, about 10 minutes (Can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 24 hours).

3. About 10 minutes before the end of the potatoes’ cooking time, make the avocado crème. Whizz one avocado with the oil and the water until a smooth pourable consistency, adding a touch more water as necessary. 

4. Transfer the potatoes to serving dishes and pour over the tomato sauce. Spoon over the extra diced avocado and garnish with chopped fresh parsley with the avocado crème on the side.

Ham & Avocado Croquettes 

Makes 14

Although ham is the traditional filling for these croquettes, they can also be made with chicken. Leftover roast chicken will work, although smoked chicken is preferable for the delicious smokey flavour. These tapas are more labour intensive than most other tapas recipes and require a number of steps, but the croquettes can be prepared well ahead of time and fried before serving.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Chilling time: 4 hours – preferably overnight

Cooking time: 50 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) avocado or olive oil
  • ½ small onion, very finely chopped
  • 30 g butter
  • 50 g (100 ml) cake flour
  • 1 cup (250 ml) milk
  • 140 g sliced smoked ham, diced (or smoked chicken)
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) wholegrain mustard
  • 1 small avocado

For the coating

  • 2 large eggs
  • 50 g (100 ml) cake flour
  • 140 g (about 3 cups) fine dried breadcrumbs
  • Sunflower oil, for deep frying

To serve

  • Guacamole
  • Tomato chilli jam

Method:

1. To make the croquettes, heat the oil in a frying pan and gently fry the onion until lightly coloured, about 3 minutes. Add the butter to the onions, and once melted stir in the flour and cook for 30 seconds, stirring continuously. Gradually add the milk while stirring and cook over a low heat until thick and glossy, about 5 minutes. Stir in the ham and mustard, season to taste.

2. Transfer into a bowl and cover the surface with cling film to stop a skin forming. Leave to cool, then chill, preferably overnight or for at least 4 hours. The mixture needs to be very stiff to form the croquette’s shape. Before shaping the croquettes, peel and stone the avocado, and cut into small cubes. Gently mix avocado cubes into the béchamel ham mixture.

3. To shape the croquettes, take a heaped teaspoon of the mixture and, with wet hands, roll into 14 small oval shapes and set aside on a tray. Beat the eggs in a shallow bowl, put the flour on a plate and half the breadcrumbs in a bowl. Roll each of the croquettes lightly in flour, then in egg before coating in breadcrumbs. Place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Use the remaining breadcrumbs to top up the bowl halfway through the coating process. Chill for 30 minutes. (*See Cook’s Tip below.)

4. To fry the croquettes, fill a large saucepan one-third full of sunflower oil and heat to 180°C or heat the oil in an electric deep-fat fryer. Do not overheat and do not leave hot oil unattended. Using a metal slotted spoon, lower 6 croquettes into the oil and cook until golden brown, about 90 seconds. Transfer to a baking tray lined with kitchen paper to absorb excess oil and continue cooking the remaining croquettes. Serve with guacamole and chilli jam for dipping.

Cook’s Tip:

You can freeze the croquettes at this stage for up to one week. To serve fry from frozen.