Kathryn Conrad
August 01, 2008

It's hot out. Ninety-four degrees, last time I checked. As much as I enjoy cooking, the idea of heating up my kitchen right now holds all the appeal of swigging bad milk. You could say I am more of a winter person.

Luckily, I have the staple ingredient for one of my favorite no-cook meals: a nice, ripe avocado.

I love avocados. I love how they look and how they feel. I love that they are a fruit, yet seem to be made out of butter. I even love their history.

The patron saint of avocados (an honor conferred by me) was a California mail carrier named Rudolph Hass. In 1926, Hass planted a seedling from an unknown strain of avocado, hoping to graft better-known varieties onto it. The grafts failed, but Hass let the tree grow. The fruit it produced was so plentiful and delicious that Hass patented the tree in 1935. (It was, incidentally, the first tree to hold a patent.) Every Hass avocado can be traced back to that original mother tree.

Today there are more than 500 varieties of avocado, but the Hass is by far most common. And also the most commonly misspelled (many labels read "Haas") and mispronounced (it sounds like "pass," not "hoss.") Whatever you call them (I grew up knowing them as "alligator pears") and however you pronounce it, they are delicious, good for you and require almost no preparation.

For a satisfying, no-cook meal, give this a try:
Place a piece of crusty bread on a plate and top with a few slices of tomato. Lay on a few wedges of avocado, a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, a squeeze of fresh lime, salt and pepper to taste. It's tasty, filling and pretty. No sweat.

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