We cobbled together a mighty tasty basic guacamole, then came up with four ways to turn basic into unbelievably good.
BASE GUACAMOLE RECIPE
Start to finish: 10 minutes
4 Hass avocados, skins and pits removed
4 teaspoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 ground black pepper
In a medium bowl, use a fork or potato masher to mash the avocados. The guacamole should be mostly smooth, but with visible chunks. Mix in the lime juice, cumin, salt and pepper. Proceed with the recipe using one of the following mix-in combinations.
Guacamole is best served right away and at room temperature. If you must make it ahead and refrigerate it, cover it with plastic wrap, gently pressing the wrap over the entire surface of the guacamole. This, combine with the acid of the lime juice, should prevent the guacamole from browning.
CHIPOTLE CORN GUACAMOLE
In a medium skillet over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add 1/4 cup diced red onion, 1 cup of corn kernels (if canned, drain them very well) and 3 minced cloves of garlic. Saute for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and let cool. Stir in 1 diced canned chipotle pepper (packed in adobo sauce). Stir the mixture into the base guacamole recipe, as well as 1 tablespoon (more or less, to taste) of the adobo sauce from the can.
Nutrition information per serving: 130 calories; 100 calories from fat (77 percent of total calories); 11 g fat (1.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 8 g carbohydrate; 5 g fiber; 1 g sugar; 2 g protein; 170 mg sodium.
SHRIMP AND MANGO GUACAMOLE
Thaw a 9-ounce bag frozen cooked and peeled baby shrimp, then drain and pat them dry. Peel 1 mango, then cut the flesh away from the pit. Finely chop the mango, then stir it, the shrimp and a hefty splash of hot sauce into the base guacamole recipe.
Nutrition information per serving: 140 calories; 90 calories from fat (64 percent of total calories); 10 g fat (1.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 30 mg cholesterol; 9 g carbohydrate; 5 g fiber; 3 g sugar; 6 g protein; 200 mg sodium.
ROASTED FRESH SALSA GUACAMOLE
When preparing the base guacamole recipe, omit the salt.
Slice 1 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes in half, then toss them with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper. Spread the tomatoes evenly over a rimmed baking sheet and roast at 425 F for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Stir the roasted tomatoes, a 12-ounce jar of roasted red peppers (drained, patted dry and diced), 1/4 cup diced red onion, 1 diced jalapeno pepper (with or without seeds, depending on your heat tolerance) and 4 minced cloves of garlic into the base guacamole recipe.
Nutrition information per serving: 150 calories; 110 calories from fat (73 percent of total calories); 12 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 9 g carbohydrate; 5 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 2 g protein; 270 mg sodium.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Food Editor J.M. Hirsch is author of the cookbook "High Flavor, Low Labor: Reinventing Weeknight Cooking."