I feel like I’m finally starting to relax in the kitchen. I used to be a ball of nerves worried over every grain of salt, but lately I’ve been trusting myself to play around a little. I will add a spice, swap an ingredient, or skip a step and still end up with something tasty. My relationship with this guacamole—my favorite for years—pretty well tracks my path to culinary relaxation.
When I first started making this guac (which comes from The Pioneer Woman), I stuck very closely to the recipe. I bought a specific number of Roma tomatoes, cut an exact amount of onion, and fretted over the size of my avocados. Somewhere in the intervening six or so years, I started using the version of the recipe in The Pioneer Woman’s book, which calls for simply an “equal quantity” of tomatoes, onions, and cilantro. The number of avocados needed is similarly vague. Tentatively, I followed these hazy instructions…and found that they totally made sense. The ratio never fails to produce a bright, balanced guacamole. I’ve long since stopped looking up the recipe and I’ve stopped caring about being precise. No cilantro? Still good. Only one sad avocado? It turns into more of a chunky salad than guacamole, but it’s still irresistible. Cherry tomatoes instead of Romas? Delicious. Mushy tomatoes? Not ideal, but pretty well concealed by all of the other ingredients.
The strategy of the guacamole is to make a simple pico de gallo, add mashed avocados, and marry everything with lime juice. This is especially perfect when I’m serving taco salad or fajitas and I want both pico de gallo and guacamole garnishes—I set aside a few scoops of pure pico and add the avocado to the remainder. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve made this recipe this summer. I love it extra chunky as a side salad or as an accompaniment to grilled steak or chicken. And of course I love it most piled high and mighty on a salty tortilla Scoop.
adapted from The Pioneer Woman
This recipe serves about four as an appetizer, but it doubles or triples easily.
1 Roma tomato (approx. 1/2 cup diced)
1/2 of 1 medium onion (approx. 1/2 cup diced)
1 bunch cilantro (approx. 1/2 cup chopped)
2 ripe avocados
Salt to taste
Prepare the pico de gallo: dice the tomatoes and onions and chop the cilantro leaves. Either measure as you go (this recipe is written for a 1/2 cup of each diced/chopped ingredient) or line up the cilantro, onions, and tomatoes to see if you have approximately equal quantities of each. Combine the ingredients in a large bowl. Chop the jalapeño and add it to the bowl (leave out the seeds and membrane if you want to control the spiciness). Season the mixture generously with salt; stir. Squeeze the juice of a half of a lime over the mixture; stir. Taste for salt. If you plan to serve this with chips, taste the pico with a chip to make sure the combination isn’t too salty. If you want to reserve some pico without avocado, set some aside now.
Turn it into guacamole: Halve the avocados, remove the pits, and scoop the meat onto a plate. Mash it with a fork, making it as smooth or as chunky as you prefer. Sprinkle the avocado with salt and add it to the bowl of pico de gallo. Stir the avocado into the pico until well combined. Squeeze the juice of the remaining lime half over the mixture. Stir and taste for salt (again, taste using the chips you plan to serve). Serve immediately or cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic against the surface of the guacamole, and refrigerate.