January 9, 2014

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.

Serves 2
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
1 lemon
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.

7 Responses to “avocado “louie””

  1. Carol Sacks

    Happy New Year, Cathy! I love Louie — your dog, of course — but also the dressing. I had it for the first time on a salad that was overflowing with fresh shrimp and crabmeat at Scott’s Seafood in Palo Alto. This was about a week after I moved to California nearly 30 years ago. Your nostalgic post hit all the right notes and now, I’m craving it! xo

  2. Barbara | Creative Culinary

    I could say all those same words and they would be true. Just settling into a new home and I’m not quite ready for company (but in truth if they wanted to come by I would have them…and give them a scissors to open some boxes!).

    This simple dish sounds divine though I think we all imagine it named after your sweet pup!

  3. Catherine

    Hmmm….homemade ketchup…..

    Do you have a recipe to share? I’d like to make my own ketchup but have not found a recipe.

  4. Kirsten

    This is the 4th reference to increasing hospitality in 2014–I’m starting to think it’s a trend!
    Cathy, avocados are one of the biggest reasons I could never be an entirely local eater. This salad looks delicious and refreshing, and since my true lunch love, sautéed beet greens, are buried under snow I’ll need to expand my lunch horizons.

  5. Gail

    Crab & Shrimp Louis were my 70’s ‘gourmet’ choices when I went out for lunch! Who knew you could substitute hard boiled egg, and more importantly, you’ve de-mystified the Louie sauce!!!


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