From Scratch: Fresh guacamole is easy and guilt-free


I am not fond of dips. The idea of sticking a fried potato into a dish of flavored sour cream makes me want to run in the opposite direction.

Guacamole, on the other hand, is a whole different kettle of fish. Forget the corn chips — I can eat a whole bowlful with a spoon. Creamy and rich, but made with only fresh vegetables, guacamole makes all feelings of guilt disappear. Even your vegan friends will be happy.

If you've never made fresh guacamole, you will be surprised by how easy it is. With the Super Bowl just days away, now is the time to start preparing.

The key to good guacamole is the avocado. Since most avocados sold in the supermarket are still green, you should buy them a couple of days ahead so they will be ripe when you need them. Right now, they are reasonably priced at a dollar apiece.

To check for ripeness, gently press the outside of the avocado. If it gives a little, it's ripe and ready to use. If you feel your finger sinking in, it's too ripe.

The other ingredients you will need are some kind of chiles, a tomato, scallions and cilantro.

The number and kind of chiles depend on the degree of hotness you prefer. Because my family likes hot food, I usually use a couple of serrano chiles with the seeds included, but a Mexican friend of mine makes his with habaneros, which are way past serranos on the Scoville scale for heat. For something a bit milder, a jalapeño would be just right. For all types of chiles, removing the seeds and ribs makes them less hot.

I use scallions rather than onions because of their mild flavor and ease of digestion. Fresh cilantro is a must. It is what gives the guacamole its unique flavor.

An hour or so before game time, assemble the following ingredients:

2 scallions, finely chopped

3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro (fresh coriander)

1 or more hot green chiles, finely chopped

1 tomato, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 avocado (reserve the pit)

Salt to taste

Mix together the first four ingredients above. Peel the avocado, and with a fork gently mash it, mixing it into the other ingredients.

Immediately before serving, stir in the salt. Traditionally, guacamole is served with the pit in the center to keep the mixture from becoming watery.

The recipe can be doubled or tripled as needed. If you are making this ahead of time, hold the salt and cover the surface of the guacamole with plastic wrap to prevent oxidation. For a change of pace, try serving with blue corn tortilla chips.

— Julie Falsetti, a York native, comes from a long line of good cooks. Her column, From Scratch, runs twice monthly in The York Dispatch food section.