Creamy avocado dressing: a recipe inspired by Guatemala
Looking for a delicious avocado salad dressing? Enjoy this creamy avocado salad dressing inspired by the bounty of avocados in Guatemala, Central America. Enjoy it over salads, tacos, vegetables, grains, pasta or as a dip for crackers.
Visiting the Markets of Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala
One of my favourite things to do in Guatemala is visit the town of Santiago Atitlán on the shores of Lake Atitlan in the highlands of Guatemala. Home to the Tz’utujil Maya people and surrounded by the volcanoes San Pedro, San Lucas Toliman and Atitlan, it’s one of 12 pueblos named for the apostles. It also happens to be one of the major avocado-producing regions in Central America.
The town was also the site of one of the most pivotal events in Guatemala’s history. On December 2, 1990 the Guatemalan army opened fire on protesting villagers, killing 15 people and wounding 21 others. Although it was just one act in a long period of violence, it prompted such international outrage it helped usher in an era of peace.
Today, the Parque del Paz or Peace Park with its silent graves, graceful trees and murals, is a reminder of the casualties of Guatemala’s brutal civil war and the courage of those who spoke out against persecution. A memorial plaque recognizes the “Martires de la Paz” those who gave their lives. It’s a place of sadness, hope and beauty.
Near the park, it’s possible to stand at the edge of the volcanic slope and look out across the Lake Atitlan. You can see Maya women washing their laundry in the lake as they have for centuries. A modern new structure, built to encourage the women to do their washing in communal washbasins is all but abandoned.
The outdoor street market is a top spot to scout out local foods such as avocados, watermelon and patin, a tiny sardine-like fish in a tomato chile salsa that comes wrapped in maxán leaf.
Learning How to Choose Avocados for Salad Dressing
During our market visit. I picked up a particularly large avocado and was surprised at its leathery skin and how light it felt. This is what you should look for when choosing the best avocado for your avocado salad dressing.
“It has a tough cascara on the outside but will be soft in the inside,” said my ranchero husband, who’s an expert on anything if it comes from a farm in Guatemala and can be eaten.
A ripe avocado should yield to firm, gentle pressure, but shouldn’t collapse or feel overly soft or mushy. At many markets in Guatemala, Mexico and other countries around the world, market vendors don’t want you touching their fruit or vegetables. So how can you tell if an avocado is ripe if you can’t touch it? If the stem has fallen off and the skin is not wrinkled, blemished or dented, then it’s likely at perfect ripeness.
In Latin America, it’s also possible to ask the vendor to choose you an avocado for today, tomorrow or a few days in the future. You can then take your avocado home, ripen it on the counter or in a brown paper bag ( never in the fridge) and within a few days it will be ready to use in your avocado salad dressing. This method of ripening avocados also works for California avocados.
During our market visit in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala, the vendor cracked the avocado open with her hands to show us the fruit’s interior. It was creamy, bright green and looked ready to be whipped into something delicious. Once she’d sacrificed one avocado to the god of commerce, we had no option but to buy a big bag.
When over the next few days when we couldn’t eat them fast enough, I decided to whip them into a delicious avocado salad dressing.
Tips on How to Store Avocados
If you don’t use up all of an avocado for your avocado salad dressing, be sure to store it in the refrigerator. Once it’s cut open it will turn black if not protected. The key to preventing an avocado from turning black is to store it with the seed inside. Cover the inside flesh to prevent air from discolouring the avocado and making it look unappetizing.
I love to use the Evriholder Avo Saver Avocado Holder, 2 pack because not only does the holder have a strap for holding the avocado in place but there’s a nice indentation for placing the seed into as well.
When it comes to storing your avocado salad dressing, avoid using metal salad dressing containers as they will cause a reaction and discolour your dressing. Opt instead for a plastic or glass container. We’ve listed a few of our favourite below.
This delectable salad dressing tastes like guacamole but gets a bit of kick from using cider vinegar instead of lime. It makes a luscious topping for a simple summer salad of Boston lettuce or over sliced grilled chicken. Enjoy it over salads, tacos, vegetables, grains, pasta or as a dip for crackers,
- 3 very ripe avocados
- 1 small onion chopped
- ¾ cup Hellman’s Light Mayonnaise
- 1 cup buttermilk or plain 2% yogurt
- 1 large clove of garlic chopped
- 2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ teaspoon oregano
In a food processor, puree the avocado, onion, mayonnaise, garlic, and buttermilk until smooth.
Add vinegar, olive oil, oregano and salt and pepper and blend until incorporated.
Chill and store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
It will stay fresh for 3-5 days.
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Travel Tips for Santiago Atitlan
A 5-stop tour of Santiago Atitlan with an English-speaking guide via tuk-tuk includes the mirador, the peace park, a visit with the moneja (the Maya woman who was allegedly the model for the image on the Guatemalan centavo) and the church costs 100 Quetzal ( around 12 USD). A visit to the shrine of Maximon, the cigar-smoking Maya deity, costs extra.
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