In honor of National Guacamole Day, Chef Deborah Schneider of SOL Cocina at Scottsdale Quarter provides tips for buying the best avocados, unique ingredients to try and a favorite guacamole recipe to try.
How to Buy an Avocado
In my cuisine, avocados are absolutely essential, and I am very particular about what I use. What makes an avocado buttery and delicious is its oil content, and the very best avocados are Hass varieties grown in California and Mexico. (South American and Florida avocados are low in fat, but are usually watery and flavorless. Avoid them.) Hass avocados have a dark, pebbly skin and rich flavor that is unmatched by any other variety, no matter how large!
• When choosing avocados, look for a very dark green (almost black) skin. The avocado should have a little nub of stem still attached – this means it continued to ripen after being picked and will have better flavor. Cup the avocado in your palm and squeeze gently. It should yield slightly. Avoid avocados with shrunken areas or bruised spots – these will be bitter.
• Slightly under-ripe avocados will ripen in a day or two. A hard avocado can take up to a week to ripen at room temperature – I keep mine in a small paper bag.
Guacamole can be as simple as buttery-ripe avocados crushed with a little salt and lime juice – a tempting, creamy blank canvas for adventurous palates. Nuevos guacamoles like our Guacamole Verano are all the rage in Mexico. I start by making this slightly more elaborate ‘naked’ guacamole, with a little minced onion, tomatoes and cilantro, and then go from there to create something amazing on top.
Try coming up with your own combinations. I always include something sweet (fruit) something spicy (a serrano chile or grilled jalapeno ), something crunchy (nuts or seeds), something creamy (like goat cheese) and something unexpected – a dash of tequila, a pickled jalapeno, grilled shrimp or crispy bacon! This fall, we’ll change up our menu with pomegranate seeds and walnuts on top.
SOL COCINA’S GUACAMOLE ‘VERANO’ (pictured)
This light guacamole tastes just like summer. It contains no onions, tomato or cilantro. Serves 2 -4
Juice of half a fresh lime (about 1 tablespoon)
1/4- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (to taste)
1 tablespoon sliced almonds, lightly toasted
8-10 ripe raspberries
1 teaspoon minced seeded serrano chiles
1 tablespoon cotixa cheese, feta cheese or goat cheese
1/2 teaspoon ‘Tajine’ brand chile con limon
Peel and seed the avocado and mash it with the fresh-squeezed lime juice and salt to taste in a molcajete or small bowl. Arrange the almonds, raspberries, serrano chiles and crumbled cheese in neat rows on top. Spinkle the chile con limon on the raspberries to bring out their sweetness. Stir everything together before enjoying with tostadas and an ice-cold margarita! tostadas , and sticks of cucumber, jicama, melon and mango. Split, pit and roughly mash the avocados with the lime juice and salt. Stir in onion, cilantro, serrano and tomatoes. Place in a serving dish, and have fun.