Rich and filling, avocados are high in fat – the good kind – and relatively calorie-dense. Guacamole, the salad/sauce of avocado, tomato, chiles, onion, and cilantro, is at its best when at its freshest and simplest – which doesn’t mean there isn’t room for a secret ingredient! A generous dollop of Chipotle Vegenaise adds a welcome kick and a touch of acidity. I like to make guacamole in the morning and serve it the same evening – this gives the flavors time to get to know each other. Serve it at room temperature for bright, true flavors.
Avocados: Health benefits: Monounsaturated fats, the key to the avocado’s “power-food” status, may lower levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and increase levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol. Avocados are high in fiber, and they offer more potassium per gram than bananas. Also, the boron in avocados may help the body absorb calcium. Choose avocados that feel heavy for their size, and have blemish-free skin. If you need a ripe avocado right away, find one that yields to gentle pressure. Keep unripe avocados at room temperature (they ripen best between 60 and 75 degrees). To hasten ripening, store in a brown paper bag with a banana, which releases ethylene and speeds up the process. Don’t refrigerate an unripe avocado or it will never ripen; once ripe, you can store them in the refrigerator for a few days to keep them from getting too soft.
Cilantro – Do you love cilantro, or hate it? Do you think it tastes like sand? An aversion to cilantro is in your genes, a realization scientists came to after thousands of people started having their DNA analyzed. To approximately 10% of those who got tested, cilantro tastes like soap. Even master chef Julia Child hated the green, leafy stuff. When Larry King asked her in 2002 what she would do if the herb showed up in her food, she said, “I would pick it out … and throw it on the floor.” Turns out, people who strongly dislike cilantro are born with a genetic variant buried inside a cluster of smell-influencing genes. As with many other foods, the reason you hate (or love) the taste of cilantro is tied up with the reason you abhor (or adore) its smell. Our sensitivity to cilantro’s distinctive kick is controlled by a special protein. If we’re especially insensitive, we don’t taste cilantro at all.
Heirloom tomato – These are wild varieties of tomatoes, pollinated naturally by wind and bees. They are unlike modern hybrids that have been bred for the best traits. Why choose heirlooms? The taste. Each color is uniquely delicious and never bland. Store upside down – this prolongs shelf life by preventing bruising. Alternative: Campari tomatoes.
Red onion or sweet onion – Red onion is stronger than sweet onion. I’ve made this guacamole both ways. I prefer red onion, but if you are looking for a less oniony taste, go for the red onion.
Chipotle Vegenaise – The original recipe called for Miracle Whip, but I don’t like mayonnaise at all. I found this product called Chipolte Vegenaise which adds a nice creaminess along with a kick. I use it on sandwiches, as a dip, etc.