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Cooking with California Avocados

Before this exercise, I was firmly opposed to cooked avocados.

I had a chance to join the California Avocado Commission BB #:145028 in the kitchen…virtually…as it kicks off the season and media outreach.

This was my first Zoom cooking class, and it was a lot of fun. CAC had Chef Brian Malarkey guide us through two amazing recipes, and completely changed my mind on at least one way to cook avocados.

I’m missing group events like field tours something fierce right now, so this was a nice alternative. Here’s a behind-the-scenes view.

CAC sent out a news release announcing the season, and its partnership with Chef Malarkey, which I pasted below. What I got from it was my end result is a liiiiiiiittle different than Chef’s inspiration photos. It tasted amazing so who cares!

I will note we didn’t see a photo of what the recipe was SUPPOSED to look like before we made it ourselves, and I have terrible lighting in my kitchen at night. During the day I have glorious windows. At night it’s meh fluorescent garbage.

Here’s the Dungeness Crab Stuffed California Avocado, which Chef Malarkey had us cut up instead of stuffing. It was all on the fly and super fun.
This way of preparing avocados changed my mind about cooking them – Cast Iron California Avocado & Peppercorn Filet Mignon with Broken Chipotle Vinaigrette.

And…the press release:

IRVINE, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The California Avocado Commission (CAC) is proud to announce the new season, with an abundance of fresh, delicious fruit available now through late summer. When cooking for yourself or your family at home, consumers are encouraged to take advantage of fresh and local California avocados to help elevate every meal for any occasion.

Widely known as a finalist on Bravo’s Top Chef All-Stars and frequent judge on Food Network’s Guy’s Grocery Games, Chef Brian Malarkey joins CAC in celebrating the season kickoff by developing two fresh and unique California avocado-inspired dishes for consumers to recreate in their own kitchens. Based in San Diego, Chef Malarkey has created over 15 wildly successful restaurant concepts throughout his career. He is the visionary behind some of the most well-known restaurants across Southern California and beyond, such as Herb & Wood, ANIMAE and Herb & Sea.

Chef Malarkey is a professionally trained, award-winning chef who was surrounded by a family of talented cooks. He grew up on a horse ranch in Oregon and spent his summers at his grandmother’s beach house enjoying fresh seafood on the coast. He was often joined in the kitchen by James Beard, his grandmother’s longtime friend and one of America’s most notable chefs, where Malarkey discovered his love for food and cooking at a young age.

“During my time living on the West Coast, I developed a strong appreciation for fresh, local produce and ingredients, which you’ll find throughout my menu offerings at my restaurants,” said Chef Malarkey. “When California avocado season rolls around, I seek out these delicious avocados to shape my cuisine, adding vibrant color, creamy texture and one-of-a-kind flavor to my dishes. There’s comfort in selecting foods that are locally sourced because they’re freshly picked and at their richest flavor, all while supporting the local community.”

Chef Malarkey’s love of fresh, coastal cuisine is highlighted in his Dungeness Crab Stuffed California Avocado recipe, which pairs a Pacific seafood delicacy with delicious in-season California avocados. The sweetness from the crab, the zest from the vinaigrette and the creaminess of the avocado come together to deliver a punch of flavor in every bite. Additionally, his Cast Iron California Avocado & Peppercorn Filet Mignon with Broken Chipotle Vinaigrette takes a fresh spin on a turf classic, using a cast iron cooking technique to add a hint of smokiness to the California avocado, complemented by the subtly sweet and spicy flavors of the chipotle vinaigrette.

A delicious, heart-healthy superfood, one-third of a medium avocado (50 g) has 80 calories and contributes nearly 20 vitamins and minerals, making it a nutrient-dense choice. California avocados are also naturally sodium-, cholesterol- and trans fat-free, and help increase the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients, like vitamins A, D, K and E.

California avocado enthusiasts can access seasonal recipes like this and more at, and follow along on Facebook at, and on Twitter and Instagram at @ca_avocados.

Dungeness Crab Stuffed California Avocado

Recipe created by Chef Brian Malarkey for the California Avocado Commission

Serves: 4

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes


2 small shallots
2 Tbsp. avocado oil
1 cup cherry tomatoes, whole
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 Tbsp. sea salt flakes, divided
2 sprigs tarragon
4 sprigs dill
8 chives, chopped
1 medium lemon
12 oz. lump Dungeness crab meat
2 ripe, Fresh California Avocados, cut in half, seeded and peeled


  • Remove the outer skin of the shallots, and slice them crosswise into thin rings.
  • Heat a medium skillet over medium high heat with avocado oil.
  • Add the cherry tomatoes and shallot slices to the skillet, and cook for about 5 minutes, or until caramelized and shallot is translucent.
  • Transfer the tomato-shallot mixture into a blender and puree by slowly adding the sherry vinegar and half of the olive oil until it becomes an emulsified mixture. Season with a bit of the sea salt to taste. Set aside.
  • In a small bowl, pick the tarragon and dill off the stems, and add half of the chopped chives. Zest the lemon on top of the hand-picked herbs. Set aside.
  • Segment the lemon by cutting off one end so it sits flat. Then trim the peel off the sides, removing the pith and seeds (reserve the peels, do not discard). Cut the lemon into six pieces and set aside.
  • There will be leftover lemon juice on the cutting board from segmenting the lemon. Add this juice, along with the juice from the reserved peels to the bowl with the herbs.
  • Add the crab meat and remaining olive oil to the bowl. Gently toss together until combined. Add a little sea salt to taste.
  • To plate the dish, sprinkle a little sea salt over each avocado half, and spoon a generous amount of the tomato vinaigrette on top (you will have leftover vinaigrette). Add the crab mixture to each half and garnish with lemon segments, remaining chopped chives and remaining sea salt to taste.

*Large avocados are recommended for these recipes. A large avocado averages about 8 ounces. If using smaller or larger size avocados adjust the quantity accordingly.

Cast Iron California Avocado & Peppercorn Filet Mignon with Broken Chipotle Vinaigrette

Recipe created by Chef Brian Malarkey for the California Avocado Commission

Serves: 4

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes


4 (6-oz.) filet mignon steaks
1 (7-oz.) can chipotle in adobo sauce
3 medium limes
1/4 cup agave nectar
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. pink peppercorn
2 Tbsp. sea salt flakes, divided
2 Tbsp. avocado oil
2 ripe, Fresh California Avocados, cut in half and seeded
2 tsp. toasted white sesame seeds, for garnish
1/2 bunch cilantro, for garnish

  • Remove the filet steaks from the refrigerator and set aside.
  • To prepare the chipotle vinaigrette, place the entire contents of the can of chipotle into a blender. Zest 1/3 of the limes, then add its juice and zest into the blender with the agave. Run the blender on medium until smooth. Pour the chipotle mixture into a small bowl and gently fold in olive oil. This creates a broken vinaigrette.
  • Heat a cast iron pan (a thick sauté pan will also work) over medium high heat.
    Season steaks on both sides with the pink peppercorn and about 2/3 of the sea salt.
  • When the pan is hot, add the avocado oil and sear the steaks on both sides – about 3-5 minutes per side for medium rare (an internal temperature of 135° F). Remove the steaks and set aside.
  • Gently remove avocado peels.
  • While the steaks rest, turn the stove to high heat and place the avocado halves in the cast iron pan flat side down. Sear for 2-3 minutes until charred. Cut each avocado half into thirds. Set aside.
  • To finish, slice each filet against the grain on a bias (at a diagonal), and place on a plate. Arrange the avocado wedges around each steak and drizzle chipotle vinaigrette on top of everything.
  • Garnish steaks and charred avocado wedges with the toasted sesame seeds, cilantro leaves, the remaining sea salt and zest from the remaining limes. Cut the limes into wedges and serve on the side.

*Large avocados are recommended for these recipes. A large avocado averages about 8 ounces. If using smaller or larger size avocados adjust the quantity accordingly.

About the California Avocado Commission
Created in 1978, the California Avocado Commission strives to enhance the premium positioning of California avocados through advertising, promotion and public relations, and engages in related industry activities. California avocados are cultivated with uncompromising dedication to quality and freshness, by nearly 3,000 growers in the Golden State. The California Avocado Commission serves as the official information source for California avocados and the California avocado industry. Visit, join us at and @CA_Avocados on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram or shop for California avocado merchandise at


Pamela Riemenschneider is the Retail Editor for Blue Book Services.