24/02/2016

Guacamole

Guacamole
Guacamole: mashed avocado, tomatoes, onion, lemon juice
Makes 1 -2 cups, depending on size of avocado(s)

Ingredients:
1-2 very ripe avocados
1/4 onion, finely chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 tblsp lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika or cayenne, to taste

Method:
Run a knife around the avocados from top to bottom, both sides, to open them. The stones should pop straight out. Using a spoon, remove all the flesh from the skin and place in a bowl. Mash roughly. 

Add the other ingredients, and stir to combine.  Keep refrigerated, and serve as a side dish to - for instance - chili, fajitas, or enchiladas. Can also be eaten as part of a salad, on bread, or in baked potatoes. Or by the spoonful...

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I don't know why I didn't start making guacamole years ago. We were introduced to it when we lived in the United States over twenty years ago. I knew that avocados are considered healthy, full of healthy fats and vitamins, but on their own I find them a bit bland. And although I tried a few guacamole recipes over the years, I didn't much like any of them, and they seemed extremely complicated.

Besides, I found it so difficult to know when was the right time to use avocados. Too hard and they won't mash (that's what happened with most of my attempts). But I didn't want them to be so soft that they were rotten, either.

I now realise my problem: I was thinking of them as if they were regular fruit, where over-softness is a bad sign. With avocados, so long as they still smell good and don't have too many black patches on the outside, the softer the better if you're going to make guacamole. Even black skin isn't necessarily a problem so long as they smell and taste okay; if there are black patches in the flesh, either mix them in or discard them.

So, given a very ripe easily mashable avocado (or two), you can use the above basic recipe, or adjust to suit your tastes. If you don't like raw onion, miss it out. Sometimes I chop mine in the food processor to make it very fine, but if you're eating the guacamole in baked potatoes (something I would recommend highly as an alternative to butter or spread) finely chopped is fine.

If you like a more garlicky taste, add an extra garlic clove. If you want a more lemony flavour, increase the amount of lemon juice, and perhaps add half a teaspoon of dried coriander. If you don't want the tomatoes, miss them out. If you'd like it to have more of a kick, add some chili flakes. If you don't want even a mildly spicy taste, don't add cayenne or paprika.

Indeed, every ingredient other than the avocado is optional - but mashed avocado on its own is not guacamole, and doesn't need a recipe.