I’m a big believer that there is a time and place for shortcuts in kitchen.
Sticking to one-pot meals? Don’t blame you. Using the “spin and tuck” method for closing a bread bag? I’m no stranger to it. Pre-washed lettuce in a bag? Go crazy.
Buying store-bought guacamole? I don’t think so.
Guacamole is one of those delicious dips that takes next to no time to prepare and requires just a few standard ingredients. Full of healthy monounsaturated fats, fiber and vitamins, homemade guacamole is actually an incredibly healthy choice, provided you keep the serving size in check and choose vegetables like carrots, celery or jicama over tortilla chips (and, let’s be honest, margaritas). Using only fresh ingredients, you can easily control the flavor by adding jalapeño or serrano peppers for heat, extra lime juice or zest for brightness or more garlic for extra bite.
In my mind, there’s no point in buying premade guacamole. Sure, it may save you a bit of time, but too often it misses the mark – too bland, too spicy, the wrong texture. I have discovered a few brands – like Wholly Guacamole – that can work in a pinch, but homemade guacamole is so easy and fun to make that I never bother with store-bought when I can help it.
If you’re new to making guacamole, here are a few tips that may help. Peeling and dicing an avocado can be tricky at first, but a friend turned me on to an easy trick that makes handling avocados a snap. Cut the avocado lengthwise, which will produce two long avocado halves connected by the seed. Take both halves and twist in opposite directions until they split into two. Remove the seed, and use a small paring knife to cut a cross-hatch pattern into the flesh. Use a spoon to scoop out the avocado into a bowl. It’s also important to point out that red onions work best in guacamole, not yellow or white. My personal rule of thumb? Red onions are best when using raw, while yellow onions are the most common variety for cooking.
If you’re like me and love show-stopping dishes, I highly recommend purchasing a molcajete, which is the traditional Mexican version of a mortar and pestle. The molcajete is a three-legged round stone bowl that is used to crush and grind spices, as well as prepare salsas and guacamole. Molcajetes become naturally seasoned over time, similar to cast iron skillets, which gives guacamole made in a molcajete a unique flavor and texture. I purchased mine from Sur La Table and paid a bit extra for its pig face, but plain molcajetes can be also be found from other retailers for less money.
This is a great basic guacamole recipe that can be easily tweaked to meet your own tastes. Sometimes I will add a few extra ingredients, like jalapeños or cilantro, but this is my tried and true recipe I rely on most often. Don’t forget to taste and season as you go!
4 Haas avocados, seeded and diced
1 Roma tomato, seeded and diced
½ of a large red onion, diced
5 large garlic cloves, pressed or minced
Generous sprinkle sea salt, to taste
1.5 limes, juiced (or to taste)
In a large bowl or molcajete, mash avocado to desired consistency. Add in diced tomato, diced red onion, minced garlic, sea salt and lime juice. Stir to combine, and continue to mash if smoother consistency is desired. Season with additional salt and lime juice to taste. Serves 4-6.