Mashed avocado is a common garnish for cantina dishes. Add salt, chili, lime and cilantro, and you have guacamole, a combination that takes its name from ahuacatl (avocado) and molli (mixture), in the language of southern Mexico's Nahuatl Indians. This great dip is best made with dark, bumpy-skinned Hass avocados.


3 ripe avocados
1 fresh jalapeno chile, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 white onion, diced
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 ripe tomato, seeded and diced (optional)


Cut each avocado lengthwise into quarters, removing the pit. Peel off the skin and place the pulp in a bowl. Using a potato masher, spoon or your hand, mash lightly. Add the jalapeno, onion, cilantro, lime juice, salt, pepper to taste and the diced tomato, if using. Mix just until combined; chunks of avocado should remain visible.