A is for Avocado

Like many recipes, this approximation of guacamole came about as a happy accident. A few months ago, I wanted a couple of slices of avocado to go with an egg sandwich I was planning on assembling. A neophyte to the world of cooking, and the supermarket in general, I did a giddy dance when I saw ripe avocados on a super sale – four for five dollars or something. I scooped up four and let my mind run free with visions of perfectly sliced avocado slivers in shades of lime and chartreuse.

When I got them home and sliced them open, my dismay was instant. Far from fresh and bright green, they were mottled with bits of brown, streaked with veins of gray. Even worse, they were so soft that they fell apart before I could even get them out of their skin, much less separated from their hard pit. Completely unacceptable for a breakfast that I wanted to photograph and post to my obnoxious Instagram feed. I’m all about occasional #foodporn and the oft-sought-but-seldom-achieved #foodgasm. Each of the avocados were in this over-ripe state, but rather than toss them into the trash, I took the lemons that life gave me and made lemonade. Or guacamole, as the case was.

I found a few stray limes, a small chopped onion, a lot of leftover cilantro from a Mexican dip the night before, then added some salt and pepper, and a diced tomato at the end. Served with some pita chips, it was a happy alternative to the sliced avocado I’d originally craved.

This past weekend, I saw avocados on sale again, but this time I went in with the intent to craft a batch of guacamole, using a trick that a friend taught me: save the pits and keep them in the final product in order to keep the guacamole from turning grey and brown. Previously, that’s always been the problem – any time that green flush gets in contact with air, it’s only a matter of moments before it starts to turn. Keeping the pit as part of the mix prevents it from turning. I don’t know the scientific explanation for it, and I don’t care, I’m just thrilled it works. (The same tip can be used if you want to save half of an avocado that you’ve cut – save the part with the pit still attached and it will remain fresher for longer.)

I love when science meets culinary craft to prolong the life of something like guacamole.

A few additional tips that made this batch superior to that first raw attempt: add some cumin to the mix. It’s that missing element that gives it a more authentic taste. I used a couple of green onions (scallions) in place of their larger cousin – I like the sweeter, less sharp flavor. Also, a finely chopped jalapeño pepper can be used for those who like things with a bit of heat.

While it may be tempting to eat the whole batch at once, after you’ve tasted for flavoring, let it sit (covered) at room temperature for an hour stirring once or twice, to allow all the flavors to  meld. (This is when the pit-trick really comes in handy.)

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