Let’s not get all grumpy about the weather and January and forget the happy feelings from gathering with our friends and family over the holidays. I declare 2014 the year of hospitality. I love having people over, and I’m going to do as much of it as possible this year. And I’m going to be using my pantry to make it easy, with recipes like Avocado “Louie”, a lunch my mother would make us back in the ’60s.
Having company over for lunch is a treat. I suppose, because I work from home, it’s the equivalent of going out to lunch versus eating at one’s desk. So, whenever someone is going to be stopping by, I like to suggest lunch. There are a few stand-by dishes I’ll serve, especially in summer when I can’t eat anything but fresh garden salads. Little lettuces and warm-from-the sun tomatoes drizzled with the very best olive oil. Big olive oil fried croutons. Maybe a poached egg. On rainy days, soup from the pantry with grilled pimento cheese and bacon sandwiches. Sometimes, I dress up last night’s leftover stew.
These winter days have me wishing for Mexico. I’ve been on an avocado kick (they were 10 for $10 last week!) A quick “Louie” dressing, named not for my little dog, but for the classic San Francisco Dungeness Crab Salad, is just the ticket. This rich, pretty treat needs only a piece of buttered toast to make a lunch that’s luxurious enough for company.
Active Time: 15 minutes
3 Tablespoons excellent ketchup (homemade is best)
3 Tablespoons mayonnaise or yogurt or sour cream
4 sweet pickle chips, minced, plus 1 teaspoon sweet pickle chip brine
1/4 teaspoon Coleman’s dry mustard
2 teaspoons finely minced scallion
2 eggs, hardboiled, peeled and chopped
Salt and pepper
2 avocados, perfectly ripe
Any kind of garnish – toasted almonds, pickle chip, or (as shown) a candied chile.
In a small bowl, stir together the ketchup, mayonnaise, pickles, brine, mustard and scallion. Fold in the eggs. Taste and correct for salt and pepper.
Halve and pit the avocados. Run a soup spoon between the peel and the flesh, loosening the avocado half in one piece. Place two avocado halves on each luncheon plate. Squeeze lemon juice over the avocados.
Divide the egg mixture and fill the four avocado halves. Let the mixture overflow onto the plate. This is about abundance.
Variation: If you like salty more than sweet, or if there are no sweet pickles in your refrigerator, add dill pickles instead. Be bold with interpretation, this sauce is a shape shifter. In fact, swap in crab or shrimp for the egg, if you’re feeling ritzy.