Guacamole at its best! For greatest flavor, appearance, and keeping quality, always cut avocados with two knives into coarse chunks about ½-inch square.

Yield: 4 servings

2 ripe avocados (preferably Haas)
½ teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice,
or to taste
1 medium-size tomato, chopped
¼ cup finely chopped Spanish onion
1 medium fresh jalapeño, minced
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

Halve the avocados; scoop pulp into a bowl. Coarsely chop with two knives. Add salt and garlic, then slowly add lime juice to taste.

Fold in tomato, onion, chiles, and cilantro. Let stand a few minutes before serving to allow flavors to blend.

Taste and adjust seasonings. Some like spicy guacamole, while others like it quite mild. Often piquancy is best determined by the other foods you are serving. If some like it hot and others don’t, a solution is to serve a side dish of spicy salsa.

Serve guacamole in a Mexican pottery bowl and garnish with a few tostados thrust into the top. Serve with a basket of tostados. As a salad, serve over chopped lettuce and garnish each serving with a cherry tomato.

Note: Many myths seem to abound about placing an avocado pit in the guacamole to keep it from discoloring or oxidizing. I don’t find that to work so well. Cover the guacamole well or sprinkle with a few drops of ascorbic acid mixture, the mixture used to prevent darkening in freezing fruits. Be careful not to add much of the acid, as it can be slightly sweet.

An internationally recognized authority on the regional cooking of the American Southwest, Jane Butel has published 18 cookbooks, including several bestsellers. She operates a full-participation weekend and week-long vacation cooking school; an online school; a mail-order spice, cookbook, and Southwestern product business; and conducts culinary tours and team-building classes. Through her writing, teaching, and television projects, Butel seasons the country’s melting pot with the Southwest’s rich culinary, cultural, and historical heritage. Learn more at