Kitchen MacGyver: Guacamole

This isn’t a low-fat, lower-calorie substitute for real guacamole. It’s also not a salad on top of mashed avocado because I believe that guacamole should showcase the ripe, rich, creamy, verdant fruits and not be mixed with pico de gallo, a chunky salsa that possesses its own stand-alone virtues. Avocados do contain fat (mostly monounsaturated) and many more calories than a celery stick, but that’s their nature. They also contain loads of vitamin E, potassium, fiber, folic acid, riboflavin … and the list goes on.

Guacamole can polarize a cinco de Mayo fiesta table as fiercely and quickly as a debate over where to get the best fish tacos in San Diego, the best pizza in New York City, or the best barbecue in Tennessee. It’s like an Italian grandmother’s gravy—every cook has her own version and every cook thinks her version is superior. And I’m no different. When I eat guacamole that isn’t my own, I often can’t help myself from muttering “mine’s better” to my husband. In the years that I’ve been serving this citrusy, salty, satisfying dip, only one risk-taking philosophy doctoral candidate clinked his beer loudly on my slate coaster before announcing, “It needs tomatoes.” I’m quite certain my eyes underwent a red laser metamorphosis; the young man narrowly avoided doom by virtue of being my husband’s best friend.

Whatever your guacamole politics, the real point is to make a large batch of the stuff, invite some friends over and enjoy life.

Guacamole

Gigantic disclaimer: Again, like an Italian grandmother, I know instinctively what amounts should be included based on eyeballing, taste and overall quality of the avocados. Therefore, this recipe is really an approximation of what I make because the most important final step in the procedure would be for me to taste the dip before you serve it. But, judge for yourself: Make a batch and play with the ingredients and amounts until you find that symphony that causes you to run your forefinger along the sides of the bowl to get every last bit before the dish gets washed.

2 ripe Hass avocados  

zest and juice of 1 lime

1 large garlic clove, grated with a microplane

1 big handful fresh cilantro, washed, dried well and chopped

2 scallions, white and green parts, chopped finely

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon paprika or cayenne pepper

Cut ripe avocados in half and remove the pits (I stick my sharp knife right down the middle of the pit, twist and then pop the pit off the blade. If that’s scary, just use a spoon). Scrape out green flesh with a spoon and plop into a large bowl. Add lime zest before you juice the lime, then cut the lime in half and juice it over the avocado. Add the rest of the ingredients and, using a fork, mash up the avocado until it’s either slightly chunky (my preference) or smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings according to your preferences.

If you like spicy guacamole, add minced jalapenos (with seeds), crushed red pepper, or your favorite hot sauce.

This guacamole is delicious in taco salad, spooned over tacos (I use it instead of that creamy white sauce that usually saturates fish tacos), spread on sandwiches, or scooped traditionally out of a bowl with tortilla chips. I usually serve with baked Scoops, baby carrots and celery sticks.

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