Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Guacamole and Pico de Gallo

Posting a recipe for guacamole seems kind of like posting a recipe for a garden salad. You just put stuff, mainly avocados, in a bowl and mash it up. And yet, I've had some pretty bad guacamole. I'm always disappointed when there are too many unnecessary ingredients like garlic, dried spices or olive oil.

The best guacamole I've ever had was at a little cafe after exploring the ancient Myan ruins of Tikal in Copan, Honduras. I suppose it didn't hurt that the cafe was perched on a small mountain road overlooking a panoramic jungle-like view:

I think the reason it was so good was because it was all fresh ingredients with a little salt to flavor - no chile powder or cumin, no over powering raw garlic, and lime rather than lemon. Ever since then I've worked to perfect my recipe into what I think is the perfect guacamole.

And as long as you're going to make guacamole you might as well make pico de gallo because it's the exact same ingredients as guacamole without the avocados. Plus these are both good with the recipe for garlicky refried beans that I posted earlier. So here they both are:


3 large or 4 medium avocados, pitted, chopped and removed from skin
1/2 a small white or red onion, finely diced (I prefer white)
1-2 jalapenos, seeded and finely diced
1 large tomato, seeds and juice removed and diced
Large handful of cilantro, minced
Juice of 1-2 limes, depending on how juicy they are
1 tsp. sea salt

1) Chop all of the ingredients and add them to a mixing bowl. For the avocado, cut around the avocado pit lengthwise and twist the two halves apart around the pit. Whack your knife blade into the pit & twist to remove the pit. Score the flesh of the avocado with a knife and then scoop out the flesh with a spoon.

2) Add the salt and lime juice and mash the mixture with a potato masher until it is pretty smooth but still a bit chunky. Give it a stir with a spoon to make sure the ingredients are distributed evenly. Test for lime and salt and add more if necessary.

Photo courtesy of Vera Lehner

This makes about 3 cups of guacamole. I have found that if I put it into a plastic storage container, squeeze a little extra lime juice over the top, place plastic wrap over the top while forcing out any air bubbles and then place the lid over it this will keep in the fridge without browning for up to 3 days. I don't normally advocate the use of plastic wrap unless it's to protect my guacamole.

Pico de Gallo

3 large tomatoes, seeds and juice removed and 1/4" diced
1-2 jalapenos, seeds removed and finely diced
1/2 a small white or red onion, finely diced
1/2 c. fresh cilantro, minced
1/2 tsp. sea salt
Juice of 1/2 a lime

1) Chop all of the ingredients and place into a glass bowl. Stir to mix.

2) Do not add the salt and lime until just before you're ready to serve it or the mixture will become too watery.

This makes about 2 cups of pico de gallo.

To remove the seeds from the tomatoes quarter the tomatoes lengthwise, cut diagonally into each wedge slicing out the portion of the core lodged there, and then scrape out the seeds:

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