I eat LOTS of avocados; I love them. I often mash them into a quick guacamole at lunchtime to go with fresh bread (if I’ve just been to Ruben’s Bakehouse) or toast, if the bread is a couple of days old. Then, of course, I might make some to go with drinks before a meal and serve with the more traditional tortilla chips. I chop avocados into salads, make an Insalata Tricolore or put them into sandwiches. Yesterday I opened a new pack of bacon to make a BLT for lunch and although I wasn’t adding avocado, I thought about how well it goes with bacon: bacon, avocado & spinach salad, or bacon and avocado sandwich. Then I decided to make some guacamole today to serve with the rest of the bacon in the pack on top of some olive oil-drenched sourdough toast.
Avocados are so full of good nutritional things that they are almost a perfect food. I do remember though that I hated the taste the first time I came across them. I was probably only about 10. I was visiting an old school friend whose family had moved out of London into Kent. Her father was a surgeon and they had a huge, rambling house in the heart of the Kent countryside and they had rather sophisticated tastes – quite unusual ones for that time, in the early sixties – e.g. they ate avocados! The father and older brothers also hunted so I’d quite often go into the kitchen and find newly shot pheasants and grouse on the table. I was such a shy little thing I never liked to say no to anything; I can clearly remember the mother telling me I was such a good guest because I ate everything. Maybe it’s as well I persisted because eventually I came to love avocados, and, much as I have a minor panic attack if there isn’t a bar of dark chocolate in the house, I feel much the same about avocados.
I’ve been making guacamole since I edited a book in the late seventies with a wonderful and easy recipe. Really, there’s nothing to making your own guacamole and it is so much better than anything that comes in a tub from the supermarket. I couldn’t actually find the book I edited (though I know there’s a copy somewhere on my shelves) and I took a quick look at Thomasina Miers recipe online, because her Mexican Wahaca restaurants are fabulous and I love watching her on TV. I also looked at Jamie Oliver’s guacamole recipe. Neither because I doubted making my own, but it’s useful to get tips from others, especially when I plan to write a blog post. My old recipe grated onion, for instance, but I preferred Thomasina’s way of mashing the onion with salt in a mortar and pestle.
When preparing any food in a fairly impromptu way you have to go with the flow a bit: I didn’t have fresh coriander to chop into the finished dish but that would be nice. I didn’t have limes, so lemon had to do. And I didn’t have fresh chilli so I used Tabasco. But, it was still a fabulous and pretty authentic guacamole. And it cost a fraction of the price of an inferior supermarket tub.
I made just enough for myself for lunch with one avocado, but it’s easy to multiply up for more. I finely chopped about a quarter of a small red onion and put it in the mortar and pestle with some sea salt and mashed to a pulp. Then I added the flesh of the ripe avocado scooped out of the skin, a few dashes of Tabasco and a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Then I mashed it all down till the avocado was fairly smooth (though we’re not trying to replicate supermarket stuff here; a rustic approach is better).
I chopped a small tomato and added that along with a few chopped fresh herbs – with no coriander to hand, I just used some fresh mint and chives growing on my kitchen windowsill. I mixed those in with a fork – I didn’t want to mash the tomatoes but have them as nice little bites within the avocado. Check the seasoning: add some freshly ground black pepper and more salt and lemon juice to taste, if needed.
Lightly toast a thick slice of sourdough bread (or other good bread). Griddle or grill a couple of rashers of bacon till crispy. Put the toast on a plate and drizzle over a generous amount of olive oil. Spoon the guacamole on top. Then finally top with the bacon. This is a gorgeous, tasty lunch and so quickly and simply prepared. Of course, you don’t need bacon and the guacamole on its own with toast is fabulous, but the bacon makes a great addition from time to time.