Recipes : Anytime Antojos
My friend Vered walked into my house carrying a pound of French feta cheese and some freshly baked pitas she found at a Middle Eastern store. It was the kind she used to cook with in her Israeli home. Just a taste made us realize how hungry we were, though we were not near any mealtime. Nonetheless, we had 20 minutes before we had to run, so that’s a great excuse for a snack.
The last beautifully ripe avocado I had in the basket was staring at me. So I offered to make a Mexican Farolada out of her pita, of course to top with some fresh Guacamole.
The Farolada, named after the Farolito chain of taco restaurants, consists of pita bread stuffed with Mexican Manchego cheese (similar to Monterey Jack), thrown on the grill until the cheese oozes out. If let to sit there per your request, it will become crispy too.
I turned around to start chopping some Serrano chile for the guacamole when Vered said she had another plan for my avocado and her pita: the Israeli way. Which, she said in a challenging fashion, was incredibly tasty.
Now, you can’t just walk into my kitchen and tempt me with something I have never eaten before.
We split that creamy, perfect avocado in half.
She mixed hers with feta cheese, green olives, lime juice (much to her dismay since she never uses limes, but it is very strange to find a lemon in my kitchen) olive oil and salt. She didn’t fill her pita with anything, just heated it up.
While the Farolada was getting nice and crunchy, I prepared my favorite guacamole version: smashed avocado with rivers of lime juice, generous amounts of serrano chile and cilantro and a healthy sprinkling of salt. No chopped tomatoes in there, thank you.
She ate my Mexican version and nodded in approval; I ate her Mediterranean one and loved it. In fact, I think I liked hers more. It seemed more exotic, plus I really enjoy the tangy taste of French feta.
Nonetheless, I finished with a piece of mine, if only because it tasted like home.
Here, you can try them both! See what you think.
VERED’S AVOCADO SALAD WITH TOASTED PITA BREAD
2 ripe Hass avocados, halved, pitted and peeled
1/2 cup pitted green olives, chopped (preferably the cracked bitter ones)
3 scallions, chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (she asked me to point out that she meant lemon and never lime ugh!)
Salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped (optional)
1/2 cup Israeli or French feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
Hot or toasted pita breads
In a mixing bowl, mash the avocados with a fork to a chunky paste. Add the olives, scallions, lemon juice, salt and pepper and mix well. Add chopped egg and/or crumbled feta if you are going to use.
Spread the avocado salad over toasted pita bread or a slice of bread. For the perfect Israeli dinner – eat with a side of an Israeli salad and scrambled eggs (she pointed out I should add that too…)
PATI’S GUACAMOLE RANCHERO WITH FAROLADAS
2 ripe avocados, halved, pitted, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon chopped white onion
1 chile Serrano, or to taste, minced (seeding is optional and may substitute with Jalapeño)
1 tablespoon roughly chopped cilantro leaves
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
Gently mix ingredients in a bowl and serve. It can be prepared a couple of hours in advance if covered and stored in the refrigerator.
4 pita breads
1 cup shredded Mexican Manchego cheese, or Monterey Jack, shredded
Heat a comal or heavy dry skillet over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes. Gently heat the pita breads over the comal or skillet for about 15 seconds per side. Remove and make a horizontal slice halfway through, making a long and wide pocket.
Stuff each pita with about 1/4 cup shredded cheese. Place them back on the hot comal or skillet and heat for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side, to your liking, until cheese is melted and depending how crunchy or soft you want the pita bread. For crunchier, leave longer. Remove from heat, cut into 4 pieces and eat with the guacamole.