or, "How I Mastered Invisible Guacamole"
Cilantro is one of those foods that I didn't know existed until I was a grown-up. I'm fairly certain my mother never used it. Once I tasted it and was able to name it, though, it was luuuuv. Not everyone likes its earthy flavor. I say, too bad for you!
I've tried growing cilantro, to no avail. It starts out hardy and healthy, but while the parsley, basil, and rosemary in my garden flourish, the cilantro gets leggy and thin. I really, really wanted to have my own live source, so I could pinch off small quantities as needed while the plant kept growing. But after several tries, I've officially given up growing my own. Happily, this is no longer problematic now that local groceries routinely carry nice, healthy bunches of it, sometimes even an organic variety.
A little cilantro goes a long way, so I've been figuring out how to make the best use of it all before it goes bad. A yummy summer treat that calls for cilantro is guacamole (recipe below). I've experimented with Ina Garten's guac recipe, which leaves the avocado in nice sized chunks. But her version lacks the lime and cilantro I crave. So I tinkered, and came up with a recipe that I decided was close to perfect. I’ve also gotten into cilantro-laced mango salsa for fish kabobs and grilled chicken, and a spicy/herby quinoa salad that uses cilantro. But first, my cautionary guacamole story:
My BFF Susan asked me to bring guacamole and chips to a party at her house. I was happy to oblige. I made a double batch of guac the morning of the shin-dig and refrigerated it, so it would be nicely chilled before I put it in the cooler for the 1-plus-hour drive to her house. I was also bringing a serving tray, a bowl, some beverages, and a couple of small gifts. In advance, I selected just the right totes so I could get everything from my car to her door in one trip. When the time came, off I went, ready for the drive to a fun get-together.
|Guac and chips.|
Loaded down with bags as I entered Susan’s home, I stopped in my tracks. I had all the accoutrement I needed, but had forgotten one important component: the guacamole! It was still at home in my refrigerator, continuing to chill. (Did I mention that home is over an hour from Susan’s place?) Luckily, Susan has a great sense of humor in such situations, so we hooted and hollered in spite of my embarrassment, and served a lonely platter of tortilla chips. To redeem myself, I brought guac and chips to another gathering at her house a few months later -– this time I remembered all the parts! But we’ll always refer to the recipe as "my invisible guacamole."
Janice’s Invisible Guacamole
(Adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe)
4 ripe avocados (Haas avocados, the lumpy brownish-green ones)
1-2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
10 dashes Tabasco
½ cup chopped red onion
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro (the ulu is great for this)
1 small tomato, seeded and diced (optional)
Place avocado meat into a large bowl. To keep it from turning brown, add lemon and lime juice, Tabasco, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper immediately. Toss.
Using a sharp knife, cut through all ingredients to mix and chop into small dice. Stir in cilantro and tomato. Taste for seasoning. Serve with tortilla chips.