What's a party without guacamole? And good guacamole starts with a good avocado.
For the most part, when you're talking about commercial avocados, you're talking about Hass. And truth be told, it really is about as good as anything out there. But sometimes you want to try something a little different.
In Southern California farmers markets, you can also find Fuertes, Bacons, Zutanos and Pinkertons. The first three are Mexican avocados, which are usually harvested from January until May. They tend to be smooth-skinned and a little lighter green; they also usually are lower in fat.
Hass and Pinkerton have a Guatemalan heritage. They are usually rounder in shape, with a pebbly skin that's darker in color; especially right now, at the peak harvest, they are lusciously high in fat.
How to choose: Really ripe avocados will give when they are squeezed gently. Use your palm, not your fingers. Usually, you're better off buying avocados that are quite firm, even hard, and ripening them at home. It'll take only a couple of days, and it will keep you from getting stuck with fruit that's been badly bruised by overenthusiastic shoppers.
How to store: Keep avocados at room temperature until they are fully ripe. Once they've been cut open, they need to be consumed quickly -- the flesh blackens within hours when exposed to air (this is ugly but harmless).
How to prepare: If you've got really good avocados, even guacamole is too complicated. Instead, peel and pit the avocado and crush it onto warm toast. Sprinkle with salt and season with a good grinding of black pepper.
Total time: 10 minutesServings: Makes 2 cups
Note: Molcajetes, lava stone mortar and pestles, are widely available at Latino markets and selected cookware stores.
2 heaping tablespoons finely chopped white onion
3 serrano chiles, seeded and finely chopped
4 heaping tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro plus cilantro leaves with little stems for garnish
3/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
3 large avocados or 4 small avocados
4 ounces ripe tomatoes, finely chopped (about 2/3 cup)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1. In a molcajete, grind together the onions, chiles, chopped cilantro and salt to a paste.
2. Cut the avocados into halves, remove the pits and spoon the flesh into the molcajete. Mash the avocado into the onion-chile mixture until it is a uniform texture, but not smooth (it should still have some lumps).
3. Stir in the tomatoes and lime juice, adjust the seasoning and top with the cilantro leaves.
Each tablespoon: 36 calories; 0 protein; 2 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 3 grams fat; 0 saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 57 mg. sodium.