Palta Rellena

Avocado halves become small bowls for the savory, creamy, and crunchy filling in this traditional piqueo (small bite). Avocados are originally from Mexico, where they are called “aguacate.” Mexico’s colonial-era cooks stuffed them with animal protein, cheese, or salads. Colonial foodways carried the avocado outside of Mexico making stuffed avocados popular throughout the tropical food cultures of South America, the Caribbean, and West Africa. They are also ubiquitous in the Cajun cuisine of New Orleans and Louisiana. In Peru, we call avocado “palta,” after a tribe in the northern part of the Inca empire that cultivated the fruit. Contemporary recipes call for a seafood or canned tuna salad for the stuffing. Here, using mashed canned chickpea instead of flaky tuna makes the dish vegan while also providing protein. Chopped parsley will work as a substitute for the dill’s aromatics. And a squeeze of lime juice will brighten the dish.

Palta Rellena / Avocado Stuffed with Chickpea Salad

Serves 4

  • One 15-ounce can unsalted chickpeas
  • ¼ cup vegan mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup finely diced red onion
  • ¼ cup finely diced celery
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dill, plus more for garnish
  • ½ teaspoon salt, or more to taste
  • 2 medium to large size ripe avocados, such as Hass
  • 1 lime, sliced into quarters

Strain the chickpeas into a bowl and reserve the aquafaba for a pisco sour. Use a fork to roughly mash the chickpeas. Add the mayonnaise, onion, celery, dill, and salt. Mix well to form the creamy filling. Adjust salt as needed.

Slice avocados in half lengthwise, and remove their pits. Gently slice the avocado flesh in a grid pattern with ½-inch squares, but do not pierce the skin. Place avocados flesh side up and sprinkle with a dash of salt.

Fill each cavity with 1 or 2 heaping tablespoons of the chickpea mixture; carve out a larger cavity if desired. Serve face up and garnish with dill. Squeeze a few drops of fresh lime juice over each avocado.