Make your tacos tasty and party dips fresh with these simple and delicious takes on guac
By Ashley M. Biggers
Before avo on toast was the must-have breakfast item, humble guacamole was a staple of Southwestern cuisine with its creamy, piquant flavor. Purists pair it with tortilla chips, but it can also top dishes from tacos to nachos. With guacamole, essential components such as avocado, salt and lime are quickly elevated with fixings like tart pomegranate seeds, a signature of chef Silvana Salcido Esparza, the mastermind behind Barrio Café, who has been shaping Phoenix’s tastes since she opened her first restaurant in 2002. She has been featured on Food Network favorite Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.
With this versatile dish, Esparza says, “the possibilities are endless.” No matter which variety you enjoy, start with fresh avocado. “Sounds silly, I know. You see, when eating guacamole at your favorite Mexican joint, you are not always getting fresh, let alone real, avocado. There are bags filled with avocado pulp that is sold to restaurants, and most folks use this,” she says.
1. The Easy Classic
Mash an avocado with salt, onion and lime juice for a definitive Mexican take. Esparza recommends you serve it over carne asada or tacos.
Pro Tip: For optimal flavor and vivid green color, make your guacamole right before serving. Even with lime juice, it will begin to brown if it sits. At Esparza’s restaurants, it’s prepared tableside. “There are no rules for guacamole other than eat it up fast,” she says.
2. A Little Heat, a Little Sweet
To create a buzzworthy dip rather than a topping, add tomato, cilantro and peppers (serrano or jalapeño) to the classic guacamole base. For “bright flavors,” top your creation with dried fruit or fresh pomegranates, raspberries or pineapple. These decadently healthy tweaks bump up a superfood already bursting with good fats, vitamins, and minerals like potassium.
Pro Tip: As you continue to mash, you’ll find the flavor changes. Keep it chunky — fork-mashed just enough to bind the ingredients together.
3. Fish and Chips
Guacamole meets its creamy match with fresh seafood flavors. At his Arizona and Colorado restaurants, chef Richard Sandoval serves a tuna tartare guac with serrano and chipotle peppers, and a crunchy jicama salad. He also pairs spicy crab with chipotle, lime and cilantro in a version that will transport your taste buds to seaside Mexico.