My mom's best friend, Doris, is one of my favorite people on the planet. She's an Italian New Yorker (with the temper to match!) who has found herself transplanted to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She wears tons of jewelry, curses like a sailor when she drives (to the amusement and shock of my mother) and is the sweetest, funniest, most devoted friend you could ever hope to have. I'm terribly fond of her- and happy that she doesn't mind that I tag along with her and mom when I'm on the coast.
Doris sends me recipes, and I've gotten a lot of mileage out of one recipe in particular. It began it's life as an avocado tomato salad, but over the past couple of years, I've slowly altered it. The version I make now, in my opinion, is perfect. I love it because it tastes wonderful, and is a great healthy option to bring to a barbecue or picnic.The first time I made this, I followed the recipe and intended for it to be a salad. I set it out on the table, alongside salad bowls and tongs, only to watch aghast as my friends dug into it with some chips that happened to be nearby. I haven't bothered with the salad bowls since.
The first change I made after that was to omit the bacon- I guessed, correctly, that serving this as a dip with blue corn chips would provide the same satisfying salt and crunch.
Next, I fiddled with the proportions. These days, when I make a big potluck sized batch, I use 2 large tomatoes, 2 avocados, and 1/2 a red onion. (The batch I made today used 1.5 Roma tomatoes, 1 avocado, and about 1/4 of a red onion- and will be enough for two people to munch on for a day or two.)
Finally, I noticed that while the dip tasted wonderful, it always looked a little brown. I solved this problem by switching from balsamic vinegar to brown rice vinegar. Be sure to add plenty of hot sauce to adjust for the milder taste.The last time I served this, my friend Katy dubbed it "deconstructed guacamole" which sounds better than my name for it: "tomato avocado dip that is supposed to be a salad."
Deconstructed Guacamole (serves a big group as an appetizer)
2 ripe avocados
2 ripe tomatoes
1/2 red onion
salt and pepper to taste
Chop the onion, tomatoes, and avocado. The onion should be chopped finely, but the avocado and tomato should be fairly chunky. The chunks are kind of the point of the recipe, but you want to avoid getting a big bite of nothing but onion on your chip-- that can be a little overwhelming.
Mix the chopped veggies together, then add salt and pepper to taste.
In a small bowl, mix together the following:
2 T olive oil
2 T brown rice vinegar (I found mine at whole foods- regular rice vinegar would work just as well)
hot sauce to taste (I use about 1/2 a teaspoon of Louisiana Hot Sauce)
These amounts are pretty approximate. I've never liked the classic 3:1 oil to vinegar ratio in most dressing, and to be honest, I tend to mix mine up, taste it, and add more vinegar and hot sauce as needed. As for spiciness- I add hot sauce until I can taste a little heat in the back of my mouth. You don't want the spiciness to overwhelm the dip, but you do want it to have a little kick.
Once the dressing is mixed up, add it to the veggies and let it rest in the fridge for at least half an hour. Serve with blue corn chips. I also think this would be great with grilled chicken or shrimp.