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Avocados can get your taste buds dancing when used in tantalizing salsas

Not only are avocados essential for guacamole, they are blazing new trails as a key ingredient in fresh salsas. Avocados add luxurious texture and lively color to salsa and transform otherwise ordinary celebrations into fiestas. Avocado salsas complement grilled meats, add spice to tacos and tostadas and are especially enjoyed as a zesty dip.

If ever there were ambassadors for Mexican cuisine, celebrity chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger would certainly be nominated. Known as the Border Grill Girls, they have been presenting the bold foods and flavors of Mexican food for over 19 years, with gourmet panache. Chefs, restaurateurs, cookbook authors, radio and TV personalities, Mary Sue and Susan know how to throw a fiesta with salsa and California avocados.

“Avocado salsa is by far one of our most popular items,” says Feniger. “It’s not surprising that avocados are perceived as party food - our customers light up when they are on the menu.”

Salsa is the standard for fiestas on so many levels. It can mean both spicy food and sultry music. Salsa – the food - is fresh, takes minutes to prepare and makes a Latin party authentic - all qualities that can also be used to describe California avocados. Salsa - the music - is an energetic mixture of Latin and Caribbean beats - also words to describe the origin of the spicy dip.

The chefs’ first rule in making salsas is that everything must be fresh. Strong, simple flavors and the freshest ingredients make for authentic salsa. Most traditionally start with a tomato base and end with any one of a variety of chiles for spice. Everything in between can range from citrus fruits, sweet berries, roasted vegetables and especially avocados.

“We prefer the Hass avocado variety from California,” explains Milliken. “It has a richer, nuttier flavor that helps smooth out the chile heat in salsa.”

Chefs Milliken and Feniger have developed a collection of avocado salsa recipes adapted from their menus and five cookbooks. Create new salsa tastes that will dance deliciously in your mouth.

For more California avocado recipes and tips on how to plan a perfecta fiesta visit For more information on the chefs, visit

California Avocado

Corn Salsa

Yield: Six servings

Corn kernels are lightly cooked just to develop their flavor and then mixed with chunks of smoky roasted chiles, luxurious avocado and crunchy sharp scallions. This mild salsa is an ideal finishing touch to dress-up grilled meats such as marinated skirt steak or chicken breasts.

3/4 cup olive oil

4 cups fresh corn kernels (about 5 ears)

1 tsp. salt

3/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

2 California avocados, peeled and seeded

1 large red bell pepper, cored and seeded

4 poblano chiles, roasted, peeled and seeded

4 scallions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced on the diagonal

1/2 cup red wine

Heat 1/2 cup of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté corn with salt and pepper, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and set aside to cool.

Cut avocados, bell pepper and roasted poblanos into 1/4-inch dices. Add to corn along with scallions, red wine vinegar and remaining 1/4 cup olive oil. Mix well and let sit 20 to 30 minutes to blend the flavors.

Copyright 2004, all rights reserved, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger

Tangerine-Splashed Avocado-Pico de Gallo

Spanish for “rooster’s beak,” pico de gallo is a salsa made of finely chopped ingredients. This refreshing and fruity citrus salsa is perfect for dipping or for adding a tropical flavor to fish.

2 ripe California avocados, peeled, seeded, diced

2 medium tomatoes, diced small

1/2 cup white onion, chopped

3 fresh tangerines, peeled and seeded (remove white pith as much as possible,) diced

1 fresh Serrano chile, seeded and minced

1/2 cup fresh tangerine juice

1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped salt & pepper, to taste

Gently stir all ingredients in mixing bowl to combine, then transfer to serving bowl if desired. Serve with tortilla chips and as condiment for steak fajitas.


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