Winter in Rio – is there such a thing? On the first day in my hometown during my Brazilian vacation, I went to the local farmer’s market. You should see my face – I felt like a kid in a toy store! A glimpse of the stands reveals the bounty of the season in ingredients that screamed to be mixed: bell peppers, red onions, scallions, cilantro, and lots of avocados.
Most Brazilians think of avocados as a dessert fruit, but this time, I decided to approach the fruit the way we do in the US, where avocado is used in guacamoles, salads, rolls, tacos, and chilis.
Not an easy task though. Many Brazilians regard the handsome avocado the same way I do Mc Donald’s French fries, with an expression that says: “Stay away from me!”
For most Brazilians, there is no such thing as “healthy fat”. In our eyes, fat is fat. Period. However, after having experienced the sinfully rich taste of guacamoles, chiles, and salsas, and listening to nutritionists such as Joy Bauer from “The Today Show” explaining that as long as is natural is good for you, well, then, avocados allows us to savor the fat of the Earth!
So, with a bit of persuasion, and lots of tastings, I decided to try this avocado salad on my family and friends. The color is vibrant and the taste is exotic, almost carnavalesque. I prepared with plenty of peppers for crunch, and lime for and acidity. They couldn’t have enough of it!
What makes this salad so different is that unlike the majority of fruit, avocado is a fatty fruit – a natural one – giving a unique dynamic to the dish, which is not only good the day you make it, but gets even better the day after, when all the flavors blend. The result is refreshing and so very satisfying!
An American might look at this dish and call it a salsa. Well, it might be, but in Portuguese the concept of “salsa” is not as strongly defined as it is in English. In fact, we don’t even have the word “salsa”. You see, we run into problems like this more often that you can imagine. While there are so many words that cannot be translated from one language to another, the cooking vocabulary itself is full of them. Can someone help me translate the word “braise” into Portuguese? Or salsa? What is salsa anyway? If you translate it from Spanish, it means sauce, but in practice it also means a bunch of chopped fruit and/or vegetables mixed with herbs and vinaigrette. And how do you eat it? With just about with anything; as a side for fish, on a piece of toast, on a cracker, or pita– it’s a versatile salad.
Am I analyzing this simple recipe a bit too much? Hmm… I usually have a tendency to do that. If so, let’s stop right here. Get up, head to the kitchen, chop and mix this quick Brazilian salad, and in a matter of minutes, I guarantee you, there ‘will be nothing left to be analyzed.
Serve this salad cold, but not icy cold.
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 avocados (about 220g), Hass, medium chopped
2 scallions, white and green parts, chopped, about 2 tablespoons
½ cup choped fresh parsley
½ cup (80g) red bell pepper
½ cup yellow bell pepper
1 cup (210g) chopped tomato
1 cup (130g) chopped red onion
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt
Fresh black pepper to taste
¾ cup Extra virgin olive oil
Combine all of the ingredients. Season to taste and refrigerate for at least 3 hours so that flavors can develop. Serve slightly cold with toast and/or crackers.