Lauren Groveman a recipe for delicious living

Guacamole

(May 3, 2007)
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Rob asked Lauren:

Dear Lauren, I love avocados and my wife says that they're too fattening. I know some fruits and vegetables have a higher fat content than others, but are avocados really that bad? Hoping you say "no!"

Lauren says...

Well, you've got your wish! While it's true that avocados do contain fat, two-thirds of it is mono-unsaturated, which is a good thing. Mono-unsaturated fats have been touted for raising the amount of good cholesterol in the blood (HDL), while lowering the amounts of the bad type of cholesterol (LDL). Avocados are also very low in sodium and have a substantial amount of both, potassium and vitamin C, as well as other vitamins and minerals. So, not all "fats" are considered negative and some are beneficial for the efficiency of a multitude of bodily functions.

Although thought of as a vegetable, avocados are actually a fruit that tastes like a vegetable. In some areas it's called an avocado pear or an alligator pear.

To pit an avocado: Run the blade of a sharp knife lengthwise around the entire avocado. Twist slightly to open and split avocado in half. Hit pit with the knife blade so that it inserts just enough to keep the blade in place. Gently twist the handle of the knife to release the pit from its socket. Lift the knife away from the avocado and the pit should come away with the blade.

When shopping for avocados, you've probably noticed two different types. One has a smooth, shiny green skin and the other has a dark, pebbly-textured surface. The latter type, called Hass, is my favorite because of its rich, buttery (almost egg-like) flavor and creamy texture. Most (90%) of these come from Mexico and, although their true season is late winter-early spring, they are available, all year long.

To select an avocado, it really depends on what you plan to do with it. Those meant to be mashed should feel very supple in the hand, but the skin shouldn't be dented and the flesh not at all soupy. Those meant to be sliced and diced into salads should be firmer, but certainly not overly hard. Avocados will ripen over time (even in the refrigerator) so having a few of different texture will make you always ready to enjoy this wonderful (and guilt-free) fruit.

Here's my favorite recipe for Guacamole, which I make for my family and friends all the time, surrounded by warmed corn tortilla chips (I mix blue, yellow and white).

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Guacamole

Yield: about 4 ½ cups

Traditionally, guacamole lends itself to warm weather entertaining. But when it's served surrounded by warmed corn tortilla chips and accompanied with a pitcher of fruit-filled white wine sangria, no one will care if there's a blizzard outside! When assembling guacamole, please don't resort to uguacamolesing bottled lemon juice. (Both the aroma and flavor of the bottled variety have no resemblance whatsoever to that of the fresh fruit and will adversely effect the taste of any recipe.) And before serving, be sure to warm the tortillas chips to bring out a fuller, more savory corn taste. The most authentic vessel to assemble and serve guacamole is a bowl made out of rock, called a "molcajete" (a Mexican mortar). I bought mine years ago in a Mexican restaurant. If unavailable, just use a regular bowl or a food processor, being careful not to overwork the mixture or it will lose its texture. Guacamole does not keep well and should be served the same day it's assembled. I usually make mine several hours ahead and keep it well covered in the refrigerator. Any time I've suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that's unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management to get more information.

    Special Equipment:

  • Bowl made of lava rock "a molcajete" with a wooden spoon, or a food processor or a bowl
  • Thin rubber gloves, for handling chili peppers
    Ingredients:

  • 4 large, ripe avocados, preferably the "Hass" variety
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh jalapeño chili peppers, stems and seeds removed (or leave in some seeds for extra spunk)
  • 2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons hot Mexican chili powder blend (or to taste)
  • ½ cup chopped white or yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons strained fresh lemon juice (or to taste)
  • 3 generous tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 medium-sized tomato, unpeeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • Kosher salt or sea salt to taste
  • Blue, white or yellow corn tortilla chips, for accompaniment (or use a combo)

1) If using a molcajete: If using a bowl made of lava rock (or a regular bowl), add all the avocado pulp to the bowl and beat the pieces down repetitively with a wooden spoon, leaving the flesh textural. Add the peppers, garlic, 1 teaspoon of the chili powder, onions, lemon juice and cilantro and mix well. Fold in the tomato and add a good pinch of coarse salt (to taste). Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 teaspoon chili powder on top, cover tightly and refrigerate until serving.

2) If using a food processor: Place the pulp of 3 of the avocados into the workbowl. Add the chopped chili peppers, garlic, 1 teaspoon of the chili powder and onions. Process using on/off turns until mixture is still textural. Cut and pit remaining avocado and cut flesh into small dice. Place diced avocado along with chopped tomatoes in bowl with mashed avocados and fold together until well combined. Add coarse salt to taste and fold once more. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 teaspoon chili powder on top, cover tightly and refrigerate until serving.

3) To serve: If using a lava rock bowl, you'll serve the guacamole in this bowl. If chilled, remove the mixture 30 minutes before you're ready to eat. If using a food processor or a regular bowl to assemble the guacamole, transfer to a decorative serving bowl and serve as just described.

4) To heat tortilla chips: Preheat the oven to 350° F. Ten minutes before serving, place tortillas chips on a shallow baking sheet and bake until hot, about 10 minutes. Serve guacamole slightly chilled surrounded by hot tortillas chips.

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Lauren Groveman recipes have been featured in many national magazines and local newspapers. Her books "The I love to Cook Book: Rediscovering the Joy of Cooking for Family and Friends" and "Lauren Groveman's Kitchen, Nurturing Food for Family and Friends" are available through Amazon.com.

For in depth information on Lauren Groveman as a writer, teacher, TV & radio host, as well as her recipes and cooking tips visit her website at www.laurengroveman.com

Lauren is a Larchmont resident. She is happily married and blessed with three wonderful children.