The ingredients for guacamole are simple and few: I consider the basics to be avocados, onion, lime juice, cilantro, pepper, and salt. Sometimes I also include cayenne pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and/or diced tomatoes (but only if the tomatoes are fresh and homegrown).
The first spring harvest from my small kitchen garden is, invariably, an herb. Depending on how last season ended, the herb could be tarragon or cilantro. Tarragon comes first if the past season’s cilantro plants expired before cold settled in. But if there were young cilantro plants in the garden when winter landed, those plants perk up in the spring and outrace the tarragon to production.
I love early-season cilantro because late winter and early spring seem to be the peak of avocado season in warmer climates. Avocados are least expensive here in late winter; I can sometimes buy them for 10 cents apiece!
When I can get avocados and fresh cilantro into my kitchen at the same time, guacamole almost always ensues. The more components I can use from my garden, the better, but these early season batches rarely include any homegrown produce other than cilantro. The photos and captions reveal how I made a recent batch of guacamole, incorporating produce mostly from the local farmers’ market. Happily, it also included several leaf stalks from my small kitchen garden’s early cilantro crop. If you make guacamole according to this very simple recipe, please let me know and tell me how you like it.
To get to the goodies in an avocado, first wash it, then use a paring knife to cut a circle the long way around the pit. Grasp the halves of the cut fruit and twist them in opposite directions; one half will come away from the other, leaving the pit there.
Use a soup spoon to scoop the meat away from the skin and place the meat in a bowl. You should be able to slide the spoon under the pit and remove a big chunk of fruit along with the pit. Scrape down the skin and remove the pit from the bowl if that’s where your work with the spoon left it. For the sake of this discussion, I used three or four dead-ripe avocados.
Mash the avocado meat with a dinner fork. If you prefer smooth guacamole, use a flood processor for this and ensuing steps that involve mixing. I prefer chunky avocado; the lumpy texture makes it seem more like food than a creamy guacamole does.
To help the juice flow, I press down firmly on a lime and roll it around on a counter. To extract the lime juice, I cut the lime in half and then squeeze it hard into the palm of my hand. The juice flows between my fingers into the mixing bowl and I catch most of the seeds, if there are any, before they get into the mix. For 3 or 4 avocados, juice ½ of the lime, stir it into the avocado, and taste. If it’s not too limey, juice the second half into the mix as well.
Rinse and chop cilantro leaves to fill one or two tablespoons and add them to the mashed avocado. Likewise, chop enough onion to fill one or two tablespoons and add them to the mix. I try to make the onion pieces very small; they’ll be raw when I eat them and I’d like the flavor to suffuse through the guacamole. Add salt and pepper to taste, and add an eighth to a quarter of a teaspoon of cayenne pepper if you like a little heat in your gauc. Stir it together and it’s ready to eat, though after stirring it well, if I have fresh tomatoes, that’s when I add them—tossing them gently into the guac.
Flavors will blend if you let the guacamole sit in the refrigerator for four to 20 hours. To keep air off the guacamole during storage, put the guac into a storage container with a sealable lid. Then massage a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the guacamole so it sticks. Finally, add the container’s lid. Even covered well, the surface of the guac will turn brown within a day. I usually scrape off the discolored portion and chuck it before I eat the light green goodness trapped underneath.