There’s a period from November to March when the ever-so-delicious Hass avocados are quite difficult to find locally. In the grocery stores during this window, the vast majority of available Hass avocados sold are coming from the wholesale Mexico market.
At our local farmers’ markets, it’s the “winter” varieties, such as Bacon, Pinkerton and Fuerte avocados that get daily consumers such as myself through until the more favorable Hass variety kicks back in.
Over the past few weeks, the presence of creamy full flavored Hass avocados was evident, with some of our favorite local growers, such as the Cairns family, Hilltop and Canyon Farm, and the Caitlin Ranch, making their return to our farmers’ market for the season.
Originating in California, Hass avocados account for about 90% of the total U.S. annual production. They thrive in the coastal zones throughout Southern California, and Goleta, Santa Barbara and Carpinteria is where a highly concentrated pocket of Hass avocados trees can be found. Recognized by their green bumpy “alligator” skin, the outer peel takes on a deep purple to almost black hue when ripe.
In my kitchen, I always have at least eight to 10 avocados lined up on a shelf in my kitchen, with the goal of having at least one ready to eat per day.
I prefer that firm-ripe stage where they are firm enough to easily dice or slice without being too soft. That’s when they have just a slight give to the touch.
Hass avocados in the firm-ripe stage are also much easier to peel once sliced.
While I prefer not to refrigerate my avocados, there are times when I have more ripe specimens than I’m ready to eat, so placing them in the fridge will halt their ripening process and give me a few extra days of quality fruit. Or, more commonly, I’ll just make a big batch of guacamole, one of my family’s favorite sides.
With the fresh Italian basil starting to emerge, some delicious heads of garlic just pulled from the ground, firm San Marzano tomatoes from the Beylik Family Farms and rosemary infused baguette from Roan Mills, I’ve been regularly preparing fresh batches of bruschetta. Now, with the fresh Hass avocados ripe and ready, I find the addition of some small creamy cubes worked into the bruschetta mixture makes for a nice California style touch.
I also like to top this bruschetta with a pinch of red rose radish sprouts, if they’re available, for a little added spicy crunch — making for the perfect refreshing appetizer to enjoy on a warm afternoon or evening.
Bruschetta with Hass Avocado and Red Rose Radish Sprouts
6-7 large garlic cloves, very well minced.
2 tablespoons olive oil.
2 teaspoons good quality balsamic vinegar.
8-10 San Marzano (or Roma-style) tomatoes (available from Beylik Family Farm at the Saturday Santa Barbara, Tuesday Santa Barbara, Thursday Carpinteria and Friday Montecito farmers markets).
10-12 large Italian basil leaves.
Salt to taste.
1 large firm-ripe Hass avocado, diced into small cubes.
24 toasted bread rounds (drizzle in olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt before roaring).
Aged balsamic vinegar.
Optional: Red rose radish sprouts (Ojai Valley Greens, available at the Saturday Santa Barbara, Sunday Camino Real, Tuesday Santa Barbara, Wednesday Solvang and Thursday Carpinteria farmers markets.)
In a mixing bowl, add garlic, olive oil and balsamic vinegar and let sit on the countertop while you prepare the rest of the dish.
Slice your tomatoes in half lengthwise and discard the seed pockets so that just the shell portion remains. Dice small and place in the mixing bowl. Finely chop your basil and add to the mixing bowl as well.
Season with salt and toss mixture until well incorporated. Taste and season with additional salt if needed.
Then very gently toss in your diced avocado. Place a couple of tablespoons of the mixture on top of the toasted bread round. Add a small pinch of red rose radish sprouts and drizzle with well aged balsamic vinegar.
Yield: 2 dozen appetizer bites.