Quickies: Guacamole, Pico de Gallo, Black Bean and Mango Salsa

May 13, 2008

 

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Sometimes things have to be done in a hurry. Last night I made blueberry muffins and had the luxury of spending 9 to 10:30 pm observing the textures of flour and sugar and eggs. Most often, I don' t have that kind of time. Especially when people are on their way over.


Usually when I do things quickly, some small (or large) disaster ensues. The following recipes are virtually no-fail, fresh and delicious. These three salsas require chopping, mixing and tasting. They’re basically just cold arrangements. Clumsy as I can be in a rush, these salsas got done without a hitch. The only thing that required some pre-doing was baking tomatoes for the Pico de Gallo and roasting garlic (for the Pico and Black Bean salsa).

If I' d accidentally mixed the wrong ingredients together, the difference would have been negligible, unnoticed, or perhaps even appreciated since virtually all of the ingredients overlap. Because of the similarities between the recipes, I was able to prepare all three simultaneously–with the exception of adding avocados to my Guacamole base, which I did at the last minute. I just divided whatever I had chopped into three piles, to be used as I prepared each dish. This kitchen synchronicity was especially helpful since I still had to shower and mop the bathroom before the guests arrived and saw me unbathed, or my tiles imprinted with wet footprints.

Back to food. The process was simple:

*Dice 2 jalapeños (serve 1 in a side dish for people to add independently)*Dice 2 onions*Roast a head of garlic*Roast 6 Roma tomatoes, cut into quarters*Chop a bunch of cilantro (depending on how much you like the stuff)*Drain and rinse a 15oz can of black beans (unless you' re using your own boiled beans)*Cut up 2 mangoes into cubes slightly larger than the black beans*Sautée a diced shallot in olive oil*Chop 2 tomatoes, removing the juices and seeds, set aside (for Guac)*4 limes,coarse salt and black pepper to taste. Add as you go.

I did all of the preliminary work about two hours before people arrived so that the salsas could marinate. Once I was showered and my bathroom was clean and dry, I peeled the avocados and mashed them for the Guacamole—they have to be prepared last so they don' t brown. (The other Guacamole ingredients should be prepared beforehand along with the salsas.) The doorbell rang as I slipped the tub of green into the fridge, to be spooned onto a platter when people were ready to sit down after peeping at the house–it was a first visit.



Guacamole:

Set aside 3 or 4 avocados.

Mix your chopped (fresh) tomatoes with 1/3 onion, 1/3 cilantro, and the shallots. Set aside in fridge. Wait on the avocados until 30 minutes before the guests come. When that happens, cut them in half, scoop out the green meat and puree it with your fingers. (Don' t be gross: wash your hands and cut your fingernails before you do this!) If this makes your squirm, you can use a fork, but it' s much less fun. If your guests are squeamish, close the kitchen door or have a co-host distract them. When you are done, and hands are re-washed (it’s hard to follow the next steps with slippery fingers) add lots of lime juice to make the mix smoother. Mix in the toms, 1/3 of your onions, 1/3 of your cilantro and all of your sautéed shallots. Add 1/3 of your jalapeño pepper as well. (With this and all recipes, you can alter j. pepper according to taste–omitting entirely if necessary.) Add lots of salt. Put this away in an air-tight container and refrigerate to keep Guac from browning. Lime juice is key in preventing oxidation.

Pico de Gallo:

(prepare at least an hour beforehand)

Chop roasted Roma tomatoes, peeling off skins and discarding seeds and slime. Throw them together with 1/3 of your cilantro, 1/3 of your onion and 1/3 of your jalapeño pepper. Put some chopped, roasted garlic into the salsa if you' d like.

Black Bean and Mango Salsa:

(also best mixed an hour or more beforehand)

Add the 15oz can of black beans (rinsed) to the remaining cilantro, onion and jalapeño. Add your chopped mango. Add a clove or two of roasted garlic. (You can also omit garlic from any of these recipes.) Add lots of lime juice and salt. Mix and serve.

(The ingredients in full form, pre-blade.)

Serve with tortilla chips and fresh, chopped vegetables for guests who prefer carrot sticks to corn. No pictures of the final product this go ’round–I thought it would be rude to flash at people’s fingers in the food.

The leftovers from these salsas were delightful additions to salads for a couple of days after they were made. Unlike the browning Guacamole, the Pico and Black Bean Salsa seemed to get better with age. Who knows how long they would have improved? They were gone in two days.

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