Let Them Eat Guac

March 28, 2008

The weather is turning warm, and the avocados are on sale. This means one thing in our household: we will, over the coming months, consume ridiculous amounts of guacamole.

The best guac I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating was served at Lula (the defunct restaurant that [I’m beginning to realize by the frequency at which it appears in my posts] had an astonishing influence on my culinary endeavors). They did crazy things to their guac — well, crazy by East Tennessee standards. I’m guessing that folks in more couth parts of the country had been stirring grapes and pineapple into their guacamole since the eighties. Am I right, Californians?

All the tropical fruit fanfare aside, my favorite version of Lula Guacamole was the Roasted Tomatillo Guac. Tart, a little smokey, and smooth — it was a perfect balance of acidity and creaminess, with chunks of avocado available to hover on the end of your tortilla chip. I never got their recipe, but a year or so later, stumbled upon one for Tomatillo Salsa in The Joy of Cooking. You simply roast a pound of tomatillos (instructions for this are very clearly described in the recipe), add some garlic, jalapeño, lime juice, and cilantro (I have actually used real cilantro in this one before, albeit much less than what’s called for, because of the whole ‘cilantro=bar-of-soap’ factor). And I’m probably forgetting something, so don’t quote me on that ingredient list. Anyway, you make your salsa, and then just chop up a ripe avocado or two, and add salsa to your desired consistency. A little extra salt usually helps bring the flavors together.

It is heavenly — just like I remember from Lula. But who has time to roast a pound of tomatillos every time we are hit by an urge for the stuff? So we came up with a cheap, easy, on-the-fly, more-than-adequate substitution:

Purchase some good salsa verde. Our favorite brands include Herdez Salsa Verde, which you can get at most supermarkets, and Trader Jo’s Salsa Verde, which is delicious and even a bit cheaper. Then, take a ripe avocado, and chop up half or the whole thing, depending on your appetite(s). You can either leave big chunks of avocado, or mash it up a little more with a fork. Then just pour some salsa over it, and stir it up. Taste it (with a chip, if that’s how you’ll be eating it), and add more salsa and/or salt if necessary.

That’s it. Tomatillo guac, practically ready-made. Great for last-minute visitors, or a quick dinner appetizer, or lunch on a Thursday.

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