It is fun to reduce the servings in a given recipe and succeed. We’ll be doing a lot of that in the new category “A New Season.” Still, there are those days when you just don’t want the bother of reducing, prepping and cooking. There are alternatives. A visit to Whole Foods turned up a chilled bar featuring different takes on ceviche, a cold salad in which seafood is “cooked” in acid such as a vinegar or citrus juice. A ceviche of shrimp and scallops called my name and resulted in the creation of a cold salad supper just right for a triple digit temperature day. A small container of the ceviche – enough for topping two tostadas, a few large cooked shrimp for garnish, a mango for color and sweet balance to the ceviche, and an avocado for a third tostada featuring guacamole tostada completed shopping for dinner. Since the ceviche is sold by the pound, getting just enough for two tostadas didn’t require a bank loan for shopping at Whole Foods. There were enough other ingredients in the fridge at home to complete the meal.
Ingredients (made without an actual recipe)
Three corn tortillas (or more if you want tortilla chips)
About four or five tablespoons of deli bar ceviche
One medium to large avocado
Five or six grape tomatoes
One or two scallions
One or two lettuce leaves
One ripe mango
Garlic powder, to taste, or one small finely minced garlic clove mushed into a paste with a sprinkle of salt and the side of a chef’s knife.
One lime, halved
Salt to taste
Olive oil or neutral oil cooking spray
Tostadas, flat, crisp tortillas. These may be bought in a package, fried in a quantity usually too big for one or two servings. You can fry them at home or bake them in the oven for a “healthyish” version. I’m stealing this term from Bon Appètit because they have been publish lighter recipes in the magazine and online. Sprinkle your chips lightly with salt to taste.
Preheat oven to 350°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place three tortillas on sheet, and spritz lightly with cooking spray. If you want to make chips, cut a couple of tortillas into wedges and place on sheet with whole tortillas and spritz the, with cooking spray. Place in heated oven. Check after 10 minutes, turn tortillas and chips over and spritz again. After 10 minutes, check again and turn. Return to oven. Check every five minutes or so to make sure tortillas and chips are toasting crisp – no soft spots in middle or edges when done and not burned edges. Rotate the sheet pan in the oven to help with even cooking. Remove from oven and let cool.
Guacamole, an avocado dip or spread that every cook swears that his/hers is best. I assure you, mine is the absolute best! This version is for a single guacamole tostada and slices of avocado for garnish. If you want to use the whole avocado and sue some for dip on your tortilla chips, go right ahead.
Chop grape tomatoes into small pieces; slice scallion very thinly at an angle. Slice all the white and an inch or inch and a half of the gree. Mince and mash garlic clove into a paste. A pinch of salt helps to break up the garlic as you mash it. If you wish, you may use a light sprinkle of garlic powder (not garlic salt) instead of the garlic clove paste.
One avocado, halved. Lay one half cut side down to prevent oxidation (turning brown). Spoon the flesh from the other have into a small bowl. Cut it up with the side of a fork, then mash it. I like to leave a little texture when I mash it with the fork. When I’m by myself, I squish it between my fingers and then get to lick my fingers clean – chef’s bonus! I don’t do that when making guacamole for guests – at least not where they can see me. Stir tomato, some of the scallion, garlic paste or powder and some of the juice of lime. The lime will delay oxidation, but you don’t want to overdo the lime juice when making this small quality of guacamole. Scoop flesh from remaining half of avocado, cut into six slices for garnish and sprinkle lightly with lime juice.
Sliced mango, sweet, but not too sweet taste to balance the acidity of the ceviche. Remove pit from mango, slice flesh and plate on a bed of lettuce leaf. You might enjoy a couple of drops of lime juice on the mango. (The OXO mango slicer actually works and is well with a little drawer space in your kitchen.)
Serving, spread guacamole on one crips tostada, garnish with slices of avocado and a couple of large shrimp. Place on plate. Spoon ceviche on tostadas, place on either side of guacamole tostada and garnish with large shrimp and avocado slices. Add lettuce leaf and mango carefully to the plate and enjoy your cool meal at the end of a hot day.