Crunchy Corn Guacamole

MAKES: 4 servings

TIME: 15 minutes

A new twist on the traditional guacamole (which you can find in the form of the first variation). The fresh corn kernels add texture and flavor without taking away from that of the avocado.

1 lime

1 cup corn kernels, preferably just stripped from the cobs (see Preparing Corn), but thawed frozen is acceptable

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 cup chopped scallion

1 serrano or jalapeo chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced (optional)

Salt

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

1/4 cup roughly chopped toasted pumpkin seeds (see The Nut and Seed Lexicon)

3 medium ripe avocados, preferably Hass

Grate the lime zest (or use a zester to make long strands) and reserve; cut the lime into wedges. Put the lime zest, corn, and garlic in a food processor; squeeze in half of the lime wedges and pulse to make a chunky pure.

Put the corn mixture along with the scallion, chile, and a large pinch of salt into a medium bowl and mash until the mixture is well combined. Add the cilantro and pumpkin seeds and mash a few more times.

Cut the avocados in half and reserve the pits if you will not be serving the guacamole right away. Scoop the flesh into the bowl and mash, leaving a few chunks of avocado. Squeeze in lime juice from the reserved lime wedges to taste.

Season with salt to taste and serve or tuck the pits back into the mixture and cover the surface with plastic wrap (this will help keep the guacamole from turning brown), then refrigerate for up to 4 hours. Remove the pits before serving.

Variations

Minimalist Guacamole. More traditional: Omit the corn kernels and pumpkin seeds. Add the zest and garlic to the scallion in Step 2 and proceed with the recipe.

Based on a Venezuelan condiment called guasacaca, it’s traditionally used as a marinade or a spread, but this version is mild enough to be used as a dip: Substitute Fresh Tomato Salsa or Fresh Tomatillo Salsa for everything but the avocado. Skip Steps 1 and 2 and proceed with the recipe, using the juice of 1/2 lime in Step 3.

Guacamole with Tomatillos. The tomatillos add a nice hit of acidity: Substitute 1/2 cup chopped tomatillo for the corn and pumpkins seeds if you like. Skip Step 1 and add the tomatillos to Step 2.

Avocado and Dried Tomato Spread or Dip. Substitute 1/2 cup chopped Oven-Roasted Fresh Plum Tomatoes, Oven-Dried Tomatoes, or store-bought sun-dried tomatoes for the corn, cilantro, and pumpkin seeds (soak hard, dried tomatoes for a few minutes in hot water first). Skip Step 1.

Avocado and Goat Cheese Spread or Dip. Spread this on bread and layer with grilled vegetables for a fantastic sandwich: Omit the garlic, chile, cilantro, and pumpkin seeds. Substitute lemon for the lime and 3/4 cup goat cheese for the corn. Put everything in a food processor if you want a smooth spread; for a chunkier spread, just use a potato masher or fork.

Pea Spread or Dip. Great on Crostini: Instead of the corn and the avocados, use 1 pound lightly steamed fresh or frozen peas. Omit the chile and pumpkin seeds. Use lemon instead of lime and process all the peas as you would the corn in Step 1. Substitute fresh mint leaves for the cilantro. If you like, thin the consistency a bit by adding a little cream, yogurt, or silken tofu.

Asparagus Spread or Dip. A great low-calorie alternative to traditional guacamole: Follow the variation for Pea Spread or Dip, but use 1 pound lightly steamed asparagus instead of the peas. Pat it dry, slice it into manageable pieces, and proceed with the recipe.