Cinco de Mayo video exclusive: Chef Pati Jinich answers my avocado questions

Who loves avocados? I do, I do! Do you?

pati jinich on avocados

In celebration of Cinco de Mayo—the annual May 5 celebration of Mexican culture and heritage—chef Pati Jinich, cookbook author and host of the hit PBS series "Pati’s Mexican Table," offered to answer questions I might have about the mighty and delicious avocado. So I sent off my questions, and here's Pati's informative video reply:


Not only did Pati answer my questions, she offered the following mouth-watering recipes for me to share with you to add delicious avocado flare to your Cinco de Mayo celebrations.


Pico de Guacamole

Tart Pico de Guac
Pico de Guacamole

Serves 6 to 8

This is a delicious cross between a pico de gallo salsa and a guacamole, so I am calling it a pico de guac. It is mostly green in color, except for the red onion, which adds a welcome pungent note and a sprinkle of color. This pico de guac is also tart, but in a most delightful way and with different kinds of tartness: bright from the tomatillos, crisp from the green apples, and mild from the cucumbers. I love to use it as a guacamole for an eye-opening appetizer. Yet, it is fabulous ladled as a chunky salsa on top of grilled fish, such as salmon. If you chop the ingredients into bigger bites, it makes for a saucy side salad. Have some left over? Spoon it inside of a chicken or cheese sandwich. This pico de guac is versatile to no end.

1 cucumber (about 1 pound) peeled, seeded and cut into small dice
4 tomatillos (about ½ pound), husked, thoroughly rinsed, diced
1 tart green apple (granny smith, about ½ pound), rinsed, diced
2 celery sticks, thoroughly rinsed, strings removed, thinly sliced
½ cup chopped red onion
1 to 2 jalapeños or serranos, seeding optional, finely chopped
½ cup chopped cilantro leaves and upper part of stems
½ cup fresh squeezed lime juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt, or to taste
3 ripe avocados from Mexico, halved, pitted, meat scooped out, diced and gently mashed

To Prepare:
In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well. Taste for salt, and add more if needed.


shrimp and avocado enchiladas in creamy red sauce 

Shrimp and Avocado Enchiladas in a Creamy Red Sauce
Entomatadas con Camarones y Aguacate

Serves 6

These are my kids most requested enchiladas. Tender seared shrimp are paired with smooth chunks of avocado and then they fill soft corn tortillas. Finally, they are bathed in a creamy and rich red tomato sauce.

1 pound medium shrimp drained, cut into 3 to 4 pieces  
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, divided, or to taste
1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes
2 serrano or jalapeño chiles, or to taste
1/4 cup chopped white onion
1 cup shrimp, fish or seafood broth, or water
1 cup Mexican cream, Latin-style cream, or heavy cream, plus a bit more for garnish
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons canola or safflower oil, divided
12 corn tortillas
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup (about 2 ounces) queso fresco, farmer’s cheese or mild feta, crumbled
1 ripe avocado from Mexico, halved, pitted, meat scooped out and sliced
Chopped chives for garnish

To Prepare:
1. To make the sauce: Place the tomatoes, garlic and chiles in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Place over medium-high heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the tomatoes are cooked through, mushy and soft.

2. Place the cooked tomatoes, garlic and one of the chiles in a blender, along with the chopped onion, 1/2 teaspoon salt, grated nutmeg, and 1-cup broth. Purée until completely smooth, taste and add the second chile if you would like more heat.

3. Rinse and dry the saucepan, add 1 tablespoon of oil and place over medium heat. Once hot, but not smoking, pour in pureed tomato sauce and cover partially with a lid. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it thickens, seasons and deepens in color to a much darker red than where it started.

4. Remove the lid, reduce heat to medium-low and add the cream. Stir and keep at a steady low simmer for about 8 to 10 more minutes, or until thickened and creamy, and it coats the back of a wooden spoon.
5. To heat the corn tortillas: Heat the tortillas on an already hot comal or skillet set over medium-low heat, for a minute or so per side, until they have lightly browned without toasting. Alternatively, “pass them through hot oil”: Heat enough oil to reach 1/2-inch deep in a medium sauté pan, over medium heat until hot. Gently glide each tortilla through the oil, one by one, for about 10 to 15 seconds on each side. So they completely heat through, lightly fluff and change color. Transfer the tortillas to a paper towel-covered plate. Keep warm.

6. To make the shrimp filling: Heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet set over high heat. Once the oil is very hot, but not smoking, and the butter has melted and is bubbling, add half of the shrimp and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

7. Cook the shrimp for just a couple minutes, stirring a few times, until they are cooked through and a bit browned on the outside, but crisp and plump on the inside. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in the bowl.

8. Mix the shrimp with the diced avocado.

9. To assemble the enchiladas: One by one, glide each prepared tortilla through the sauce, which should still be hot. If not, heat again over medium heat. Place each bathed tortilla on a plate, spoon about 3 tablespoons of the shrimp and avocado mixture in the middle and fold as you would a quesadilla.

10. Place the filled enchiladas on a platter and continue with rest of the tortillas, laying each one gently on top of the edge of the other. Once you are done, generously spoon more of the tomato sauce on top. Garnish with chives and crumbled cheese.


avocado and dulce de leche martini 

Avocado and Dulce de Leche Martini
Martini de Aguacate con Dulce de Leche

Serves 1

Shake up the way you usually think of using avocados in this simple, satisfyingly sweet, creamy cocktail. It’s perfect for a girls’ night in or an evening in the backyard with friends and neighbors. Better yet, you can even leave out the alcohol and make it a frappe for the kids!

2 ounces vodka
1/2 ounce dry vermouth
1/2 ripe avocado from Mexico, meat scooped out
2 tablespoons dulce de leche or cajeta
2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup milk

To Prepare:
Pour all of the ingredients into a blender and puree until smooth. Pour into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake it and strain into a chilled martini glass.


Avocado and chorizo enchiladas 

Chorizo and Avocado Black Bean Enchiladas
Enchiladas de Chorizo y Aguacate con Salsa de Frijol

Makes 12 enchiladas, serves 6 to 8

3 cups cooked beans and their cooking broth (or 2 cans black beans plus 1 cup water)
2 tablespoons adobo sauce from chipotles in adobo sauce
1 Chipotle chile in adobo, seeded, optional
1 pound Mexican chorizo, casings removed, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/3 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, or to taste
12 corn tortillas
2 ripe avocados from Mexico, halved, pitted, diced
Mexican cream to garnish

To Prepare:
Place the cooked black beans and their cooking broth in a blender along with the sauce from the chipotles in adobo and the chipotle chile if using. Place in a medium saucepan, heat over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until very hot. Reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting and keep warm. The puree should have the consistency of heavy cream.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once it is hot, add chorizo, and cook, crumbling as it cooks with a wooden spoon or spatula, until it has browned and crisped, about 5 to 6 minutes, scrape into a bowl, cover and set aside.
Pre-heat a comal or cast iron skillet over medium heat.
Heat the corn tortillas, a pair at a time, in the pre heated comal or skillet, about 30 seconds to 1 minute per side, you want them to be completely heated and even slightly toasted.(Alternatively, the tortillas can be quickly “passed through hot oil”, that is quickly fried, 10 seconds per side, over pre heated oil in a medium skillet over medium heat, then drained). One by one, dip a tortilla in the black bean sauce, and place on a platter, folded. Continue with the remaining tortillas.
When all the tortillas are dipped and folded, pour more black bean sauce on top. Cover with the cooked chorizo and avocado. Drizzle with Mexican cream. 

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

More on Pati Jinich
Born and raised in Mexico City, Pati Jinich is host of the hit PBS cooking series “Pati’s Mexican Table,” which is currently airing its fourth season nationwide (TV listings by zip code here: She served as a political analyst before jumping into the kitchen. Her first cookbook, Pati’s Mexican Table: The Secrets of Real Mexican Home Cooking was recommended by The New York Times and included in Amazon’s Top 20 2013 cookbooks. Jinich is a regular guest on The Chew, The Today Show, The Talk, All Things Considered and The Splendid Table. She has been featured in The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune and other leading national and regional press. She has cooked for President Obama at the White House’s Cinco de Mayo dinner.

Disclosure: I was compensated for sharing this video and the yummy recipes; photos courtesy Pati Jinich.