I kept questioning my decision. Why am I sharing a recipe for classic guacamole in September? We still have so many ripe and ripening tomatoes. Why aren’t I sharing a recipe that uses lots of tomatoes?
And, then, the reason for guacamole came loud and clear. Sunday, September 16 (just 5 days from today) is National Guacamole Day! Celebrate in style with my new favorite recipe for fresh and chunky Classic Guacamole. Make it even healthier. Serve it with crisp jicama chips, cucumber rounds and sliced carrots instead of tortilla chips. ¡Olé!’
Land of avocados
I grew up in Southern California eating lots of avocados. I’ve also attempted to grow my share of avocado trees from the pit or seed. But that was way before the internet. All the helpful information now almost guarantees success.
The avocado man
I still have fond memories of the “avocado man.” Each week he set up his booth at the Calabasas Farmers’ Market. Each week he had new and unusual avocados to taste. He shared small fingerlings with tiny pits. Other times he shared avocados with extra-large pits. There were Pinkerton, Reed, Fuerte and Bacon avocados.
Yet, the pebbly-skinned Hass remain my favorite. Their rich buttery flavor, silky texture and year- round availability are unsurpassed.
I may have grown up on avocados and guacamole, yet I never knew that guacamole has a history going back to the16th century Aztecs. Guacamole comes from two Aztec words translated as “avocado mixture.” The word guacamole seems so much more appealing.
Like many cooks, I’d developed my own twist on guacamole. I was quite happy with my “avocado mixture.” Then within the past month, two authentic and somewhat similar recipes crossed my path. What a difference technique makes in this classic guacamole. Making a paste of the onion, chili, salt and cilantro brings so much more complexity of flavor to every bite.
“… we take great care in preparing the chile paste that is the underpinning of the dish—that’s where the layered flavors come from. We begin by grinding some onions, chiles, and cilantro together in a molcajete…. Then we gently toss in cubed avocado so that every piece is coated evenly.” Roberto Santibanez
First off, if your avocados are hard, set them on your kitchen counter for a few days to ripen. You know they’re getting close with Hass avocados when the skin begins to darken from green to black.
Another revelation. I always tested the degree of ripeness by gently pressing the whole avocado. Rick Bayless, author, TV personality and master chef of authentic Mexican cuisine, suggests pressing the bottom of an avocado as the perfect test. If it gives gently, the avocado is ripe. Though, for guacamole, let it ripen one more day for the richest flavor and smoothest texture.
Sometimes avocados ripen before you’re ready for them. They will last unwrapped in the fridge for up to a week.
Removing the pit
Struggle no more with a spoon to free the pit. This method is quick and so much easier.
- Cut the avocado lengthwise all the way around.
- Gently twist the two halves apart.
- Hold the avocado half pit-side up in your left hand. Hold a chef’s knife in your right hand.
- Tap the center of the pit with your knife so the blade sticks to the pit.
- Twist the knife to remove the pit.
- Hit the knife handle on the edge of your trash can to release the pit.
Inspired and adapted from recipes by Roberto Santibanez and Angela Tovar Morales. Sliced jicama, cucumber and carrots make crisp and healthy alternatives to the traditional tortilla chips. Remember to keep the guacamole chunky by not over-mixing it.
Makes about 2 cups
Active Time: 15 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes
¼ cup finely chopped onion or shallot
2 tablespoons seeded, minced jalapeno or 1 tablespoon seeded, minced Serrano pepper
2 tablespoons cilantro leaves
½ teaspoon Kosher, Celtic or other coarse salt
2 large, ripe Hass avocados halved and pitted
1 small tomato cored, seeded and finely chopped (about ¼ cup)
Juice of half a lime
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Additional salt to taste
Without a molcajete or mortar and pesto, place the first four ingredients together on a cutting board. Use a fork or the tip of a bread knife to mash these ingredients into a chunky paste. Remove the paste to a bowl. The paste can be prepared up to a few hours in advance.
Add the finely chopped tomato, additional cilantro and lime juice. Gently toss all together. Some of the avocado will mash as you toss, but leave the guacamole chunky. Season with additional salt to taste.
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