Thursday, May 5, 2011

Perfect Guacamole or - What Lies Beneath

Avocados, like people, have a rather deceiving appearance. Judge these little oddities by their protective cover- hard, black,  warty and you may turn up your nose.  Can there really be value worth discovering when a thing looks like that? They are not normal. Unusual. Don't quite fit in or have it all together. After all, do you see anything else running around the produce aisle in a get-up like this?  With an avocado, and with people,  finding out what is really there takes some time, some effort,  a willingness to set aside initial impressions. It takes believing that there is value, even treasure on the inside, in spite of first glance . Take the time to slow down, to get out of your comfort zone, look past the obvious. Be willing to dig a little deeper You might make a new friend, or else some really great guacamole.

I wouldn't have touched an avocado with a 10 foot pole. But then, oh then, I met (later married) this guy who broadened my horizons. See, he had a tiny love affair with the things.  He had lived in the Caribbean for a couple of years with an avocado tree in his back yard and was convinced that a little avocado made just about anything better. He convinced me to see things his way and now I am a whole-hearted fan.  These little nutritional powerhouses pack a whallop of Vitamin K, potassium, protein and fiber, not to mention a good dose of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. We love to add a couple slices to a BLT sandwich or really - about any excuse to have them.

Over the years I've tried and tried to make good guacamole. Some of those first attempts still make me shudder. Sour cream or Ranch dressing mixed in?  What was I thinking?! Finally,  I've come up with a hit. This  recipe has made guacamole lovers out of people who hated it before. Puddle of green goo squirted on the side of your plate at the chain Mexican joint? This is nothing like that. Fresh flavors exploding in your mouth? Yeah, this is more like that.

The method takes a little effort. There is lots of chopping and dicing. But the end result is a bowl of fresh salsa and a bowl of guacamole. Who could say no to that?

3-4 ripe avocados
2 large tomatoes, seeded and small diced
1 large sweet onion, small diced
1 jalapeno pepper-seeds and membranes removed if you don't want heat
1 bunch of fresh cilantro
2 soft, juicy limes
kosher salt - this is one time when regular table salt really won't do.
It is hard to give accurate measurements for this recipe because there are many variable factors. Are your avocados big or small? How ripe are they?  How juicy are your limes?  This is a recipe that you have to judge as you go along.

Here's what I do. Finely dice onion. Measure out a heaping one cup measure and pour into a bowl. Add about 2 1/2 half cups of finely diced & seeded tomatoes.  Stir it around. Add in 1/2 a jalapeno pepper. Depending on how much heat you like, add more or less. If you take out the seeds and membranes, jalapenos are not very hot. Grab a small handful of cilantro, about half a cup. Chop off stems. Don't  drive yourself crazy trying to get rid of every stem. Just cut off the first several inches of stems and discard. Finely chop the rest.

Stir together tomatoes, onions, jalepenos and cilantro. Squeeze the juice of one lime over all. Add a generous teaspoon of kosher salt.  Taste!  Add more lime, cilantro or salt as needed.  Yummy!  You just made a delicious fresh salsa. Stop there, pull out the chips and enjoy, OR keep going and make guacamole.

Grab avocados and cut them in half lengthwise. Remove pit and discard.Using a spoon, scoop out the soft, green flesh. Mash avocado with a fork, leaving it somewhat chunky. Puree is not what you are going for here.

Now, this is what makes it good. Scoop in about a 3/4 cup of the fresh salsa. Stir. Squeeze in another lime. Add another 1/2 tsp salt. Taste and add more lime, cilantro or a  little more salt if needed.  Avocados really shine with a good dose of salt.  Give one final stir and serve with your favorite tortilla chips.  There now, wasn't a little effort worth it to find treasure?  Go...and look at people knowing there is treasure there.


  1. Thank you, Wren, for giving us this gem of a recipe! I tried posting the other day after your last blog update requesting this yummy recipe (I still remember when you made it for me and Shea. Oh, my I couldn't get enough!). :) I'm so looking forward to making this!

  2. So easy, even a recent college grad who is short on cash, and things to cut with, and mash with... well you get the picture. Delicious ;).

  3. Yum, yum, yummy!!! You know I love it! :)

  4. Hidden secret if you have extra after you are done enjoying, save that pit instead of throwing it away, and put it back in the bowl when you get ready to store, it keeps it from turning brown like avocados like to do :)
    -Meredith l