Cinco de Guacamole

Unless you live under a rock, you know that this coming Sunday is Cinco de Mayo. What most people who live both under and above rocks don't know is that Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico's Independence day, but "originated with Mexican-American communities in the American West as a way to commemorate the cause of freedom and democracy during the first years of the American Civil War. Today the date is observed in the United States as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride."

Cinco is truly a foodie holiday. Is there a better way to celebrate a country's pride and heritage than through food? Food brings people together on all holidays and occasions, and this holiday is no exception. So this week I plan to share some of my favorite Mexican- and Southwestern-inspired favorites, starting with everyone's all-time favorite: guacamole!

By the way, this is shaping up to be a great year for avacado lovers. According to Whole Foods, 200 million more pounds of avocado will be produced or imported into the United States this year than in 2012 (up from 1.5 billion pounds).  That's 13% more avocados for everyone! Guac lovers unite!

Guacamole is like a lasagna - everyone has their favorite version. How does one actually make the "best-ever" guac? Creamy or chunky? Spicy or mild? In my opinion, it has to be chunky and slightly spicy to be named the "best."

For this chunky homemade guacamole, we used a mixture of yellow onion, serrano chile, jalepeno pepper, cherry tomatoes, garlic, fresh cilantro, and lime juice. The onion and tomato break up the creaminess of the guacmole nicely, and when you use two different kinds of hot peppers in modest amounts, you get a slight kick that doesn't leave your lips burning and you reaching for the milk.

We used two ripe avocados. Picking out avacados can be hard for me, but the experts say to buy them a few days before you need them, and that you'll know when they're ripe because they have a slight give when pressed.

Once you've cut your avacados, removed the pit, and mash them in a big bowl with a fork or potato masher, add your chopped ingredients and season with the lemon and lime juice, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Add in the peppers last to reach your desired level of hotness. You can always add, but you can't remove!

Mix well and enjoy :) If you think you have a great recipe for guacamole, a different variation or even a secret ingredient, let me know! Never stop to rest until the good is better and the better best...

Chunky Guacamole

  • 2-3 ripe avacados
  • ¼ cup quartered grape or cherry tomatoes
  • ¼ cup yellow onion
  • ½ of 1 jalapeño and 1 serrano pepper, seeds removed and finely chopped 
  • Coarsely chopped cilantro, to taste (I like about a teaspoon and a half)  
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • Juice of two limes
  • Splash of lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon each cumin and cayenne pepper (or to taste) 

  • Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Cut avocados in half. Remove the pit. Scoop out avacado from the peel, put in a mixing bowl.

2. Using a fork or potato masher, roughly mash the avocado. (Don't overdo it! The guacamole should be a little chunky.) Immediately add the chopped onion, cilantro, garlic, and tomatoes. Season with the juice of two limes (about 2 teaspoons), a splash of lemon juice, cayenne pepper, cumin, salt and pepper and mash some more.

3. Chili peppers vary individually in their hotness. Start with a half of each pepper (jalepeno and serrano) and add to the guacamole to your desired degree of hotness.

4. Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the guacamole to prevent oxidation from the air reaching it. Refrigerate until ready or serve immediately.