Saturday, July 2, 2016

Fresh Guacamole ~ Easy and Delicious

Some of you may be thinking you don't like avocado... nature's Crisco. But if you haven't had freshly made guacamole you probably don't know what a great, healthy snack this famous dish can be.

Julian's Fresh Guacamole
Avocados were first cultivated in south central Mexico and as far south as Peru. The word guacamole is of Aztec origin and today you can find the dish in many Mexican restaurants. It's even popular to prepare it table side so you can see just how easy and fresh it is.

Guacamole dip is traditionally made by mashing ripe avocados with some sea salt using a mortar and pestle (called a molcajete). Williams-Sonoma carries the authentic version if you'd like to have one.  However, don't let the lack of equipment stop you. A good, ripe avocado mashes easily. I usually use my cocktail muddler for this purpose, but even a sturdy fork will work.

My recipe also includes fresh tomato, red onion, garlic, lemon or lime juice, chili or cayenne pepper, and salt. Beyond that if I have some fresh basil or jalapeƱo on hand I may toss that in as well. When I don't have fresh tomatoes I substitute a bit of chunky salsa. Really the recipe is not very specific beyond the avocado, so you can make it to your taste.

Selecting Avocados:  If you're going to shop and make the guacamole the same day, you'll need to pick one that is ripe. To do this, select a dark green, almost black one, which is soft when pressed. Most at the store will be green almost the color of grass, and very hard. They ripen pretty quickly sitting on your counter. They hold longer in the refrigerator. If you want to speed the ripening, you can wrap them together in a bag or foil. Sitting on the counter it typically takes about 2 days for my avocados to ripen, but thankfully my grocer always has both ripe and green on hand. Here is a great guide to selecting and using fresh avocados.

Served here with frozen margaritas.
Ingredients (serves 2)
1 avocado, fresh and ripe
1 teaspoon course salt (sea salt)
2 tablespoons red onion, chopped
small tomato, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon fresh basil/cilantro, chopped
1 serrano chili pepper (optional)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh lime/lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon lime zest (optional)
chili or cayenne pepper (to taste)
tortilla chips

Run a knife through the avocado until it hits the center stone and then cut all the way around. Twist and pull at the same time and the two sides will come apart leaving the stone in one half. You can hit the stone with a knife and pull it out, or you can run a little knife or spoon under the stone and remove it. Then, using a tablespoon right at the edge of the skin, run it under the flesh and remove it. It should come out nearly all in one piece, although this doesn't really matter.  Mash the avocado with the course salt. You can make it completely smooth, or leave it chunky, depending on your taste. I like it just a little chunky.

Chop the onion, tomato and optional serrano pepper. Mince the garlic. Add the three ingredients to the smashed avocado. Add some fresh lime/lemon juice, lime zest and season with chili or cayenne pepper if you want it spicier. Stir ingredients until just mixed. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve with tortilla chips for dipping.

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