Feb 13, 2016

Recipe: Guacamole Camagüeyano
(Avocado and Pineapple Salad)

Elia Rodriguez Casas used to make this avocado and pineapple salad as her contribution to pot-luck family gatherings in Maryland when she could find avocados at the market. She called it guacamole but its nothing like the guacamole you know. She brought the ingredients with her, except for the olive oil and vinegar because everyone had olive oil and white vinegar at home, and made it on the spot. It is easy to make and delicious.
1 cup light vinaigrette dressing
3 large ripe Caribbean avocados
1 ripe pineapple
1 red onion
Ignore the lettuce and cut the onion into rings instead
Caribbean avocados are the large ones with smooth skin that stay green when ripe. If Caribbean avocados are not available, use 4 or 5 Hass avocados — the rough black skinned ones — and be real careful when tossing as they are not as firm and will turn to mush with heavy handling. Pineapples from Florida or the Caribbean are sweeter and pair better with the vinegar in the dressing than the more tart Hawaiian pineapples.

The idea is to use equal parts avocado and pineapple.

Before you start, prepare the vinaigrette if you are not going to use a bottled product. Elia brought a Good Seasons Italian Dressing packet mix with her and used good Spanish olive oil. If you use bottled Italian salad dressing, don't pick one that is too thick. It's got to stay behind in the bowl when you serve the salad with a slotted spoon.

1. Pour vinaigrette into the serving bowl.

2. Open, peel and cut the avocados into chunks about an inch square and add to the bowl of vinaigrette. Toss gently to ensure the chunks are well coated so they do not turn brown.

3. Peel, core and cut the pineapple into similar sized chunks and add to bowl.

4. Peel and slice the red onion into rings, separate the rings and add to bowl.

5. Toss gently one last time.

Set aside for 20 minutes or more so  flavors develop, or refrigerate if you will be serving later.

Serve at room temperature with a slotted spoon. If you want to get fancy, transfer to a shallow bowl lined with lettuce leaves for a picture-perfect presentation.

Serves 8 to 10.

Don't overthink it. Before you add tomatoes, lettuce, other vegetables, cubes of cheese, or chunks of meat, try it plain first. It's a very hearty, flavorful and colorful salad without the extras.