We eat palta almost every day and never get sick of it. Sliced. Cubed. Mashed onto sandwiches. Pureed with basil as a creamy pasta topper. I even jumped on the chococado (chocolate-avocado combination) bandwagon, but really hated to waste the flavor of such an incredible fruit. In the U.S., avocado is probably most widely consumed as guacamole, a Mexican dip used mainly as a complement to nacho chips. I prefer my guacamole atop beans, or eaten straight out of the serving dish as is. It’s just that good.
I was intimidated by avocadoes for many years, so much so that I never even bought them. (I used to eat at this little Mexican restaurant 5 nights a week back home!) I mean, do you peel it? Slice it first? How does it work? One day, when my mother-in-law was out and we had the kitchen to ourselves, my sister-in-law taught me the amazing secrets of palta, and I’m hoping there’s a few of you out there whose lives will be transformed by this knowledge, as mine was. In fact, my husband proclaims that I am the best guacamole maker he’s ever known–he’s known a lot of them–and trust me when I say that he is never shy about telling me when I’ve utterly failed in the cocina.
Tip 1: Choose a soft avocado. We prefer the smaller, darker ones for their flavor and meatiness. The fruit should easily cave under the pressure of your fingers. If you attempt this or any other recipe with too firm a fruit, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Tip 2, courtesy of my sister-in-law: Slice the avocado length-wise, working around the pit. You’ll have two clean, beautiful avocado halves, and no slimy fingers from peeling it from the outside. This way, you can just scoop out the flesh with a spoon directly into your serving dish.
The rest is really up to you, because there are about as many guacamole recipes as there are Latin families out there, but here’s a rough guide to help start you off:
1/4 medium onion, diced
1/2 medium tomato, diced
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2-1 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. black pepper (optional)
several sprigs cilantro (optional)
couple splashes water (optional)
Peel avocado, remove pit, and mash in serving dish. Add lemon juice and water, if using, and mix. Add other ingredients and stir together until you’ve reached your desired consistency.
I personally add several splashes of water and lemon juice to fill the sauce out a little further. I don’t use black pepper, and we put cilantro when we have it, which isn’t often. Put as much onion or tomato as you like, because it only makes things better!