My husband Kevin met our friends Carole and Mark when the three of them attended a class together. Although they didn’t have much in common professionally or in terms of background, they agreed that the refreshments offered at class breaks were not up to par. Kevin started to bring better cookies to share and a friendship flourished. Over a decade later, we’re still bonding over food. The four of us do talk about other subjects, we celebrate holidays and other occasions and enjoy each other’s families. But it’s a rare get together that isn’t centered on making food, enjoying it, drinking good wine, and talking about more food and wine.
At one recent get together, Carole noticed my small mortar and pestle.
She mentioned that they have a much bigger version made from the same volcanic rock material and use it to make guacamole. Before we moved onto other food-related topics, I asked Carole for their guacamole recipe. She obliged, just in time for Super Bowl Sunday.
A mortar and pestle is a much better way to mix guacamole than more modern kitchen appliances. From a practical viewpoint, no electric chopper, blender, and processor that I've seen can grind or pulverize like a good mortar and pestle. Sometimes the electric appliances can't get the ingredients finely enough pulverized, and other times they turn everything too liquid-like. (You can make much more than just guacamole in a mortar and pestle. Use it to make anything that needs to be mashed or cracked, squashed or puréed.) Besides, when you are angry at the world or someone specific, there is no better way to deal with your demons than by pounding food in a mortar and pestle.
My stone mortar and pestle isn't large enough to hold all the guacamole ingredients, so I had to work in batches. The process was a bit tedious, but it worked. Hopefully you'll find a bigger one. If you don't have access to a mortar and pestle, you can make guacamole by smashing the ingredients in a sturdy bowl.
Carole and Mark's Guacamole
Servings - about 1 1/2 cups or 12-16 ounces Cost - $4.53 per bowl
- 2 avocados – The avocados should be slightly firm but not hard. If you can only find hard ones in the store, leave them on the counter for a couple of days to soften. Refrigerate only if they are getting soft to the point where you would make a dent if you press them with a medium touch.
- 1/4 cup finely chopped onions
- 1/2 tablespoon finely chopped jalapeño pepper. (If you include the pepper's seeds & membranes, the guacamole will be quite hot. I remove them to keep the guacamole spicy, but not crazy hot.)
- 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves. When you shop for cilantro, by sight alone you may confuse it with Italian or flat leaf parsley.
Sometimes, there is a label on the bunch of green leaves with stems, but if not, the best way to make sure you've got cilantro is to smell it. Cilantro has a distinctive smell that will remind you of Mexican food, while parsley does not have a strong smell. Clean the cilantro stems by running them under water, then dry them with a paper towel before chopping the leaves.
- 1/4 cup of seeded, finely chopped tomatoes or approximately 2 Campari-sized tomatoes. The tomatoes don't have to be totally seeded, but you don't want all the juice either, or it will water down the guacamole.
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Juice of 1/2 or whole lime (the amount depends on desired taste and texture)
- Cutting board(s) - I prefer 2 so I can cut the jalapeño pepper on a separate board
- Measuring cup (1/4 cup size)
- Measuring spoons
- Soup spoon or teaspoon for scooping out avocados
- Mortar and pestle or medium-sized bowl and a mallet or other implement that will mash food
Preparation (Note that the directions call for finely chopping the vegetables other than the avocado. That makes them easier to smoosh into a rough paste. If you leave the pieces too big they will not break down easily, but it will not affect the taste of the guacamole.)
- Finely chop the onion, cilantro leaves and the jalapeño pepper. To chop the cilantro leaves, remove them from the stems by hand. then chop the leaves. When you chop the pepper, be careful not to touch your fingers to your eyes or mouth and discard unused parts of the pepper carefully to avoid pepper burns. After you chop it, wash your hands. (Trust me - pepper burns can be uncomfortable or even painful!)
- With a spoon, scoop the seeded membrane portion of the tomatoes (the pulp) out with most of the juice, cut the remaining hollowed out tomatoe halves into slices and finely chop those slices.
- Place onions, jalapeños, cilantro & salt in the mortar and mash them with the pestle into a juicy paste.
- Add the avocados and mash them into the mixture already in the mortar, then add the tomatoes and lime juice to taste and mash again.