At every party, people gravitate towards the dips, and who can blame them? I love a tasty, fresh mixture of ingredients that can be scooped up with chips, bread, or cucumbers and eaten with convenience and pleasure.
Two of my favorite dips are the classic guacamole with tomatillos and a less-classic, but equally delicious, mango salsa. These dips will have your food table suddenly swarming with guests.
Luckily, you can easily feed the masses with these dips because neither dip requires any cooking.
Pairing your dips with ingredients like crackers or other starches will fill up hungry bellies fast. You can also set out vegetables like carrots, celery, or cucumbers for a healthier option.
The fresh ingredients make these dips an inspiring go-to for vegetarians, dieters, and pretty much anyone who likes bold flavors and spices. The bright mangos and creamy avocados will have you indulging in chip-full after chip-full without feeling heavy or guilty afterward.
Classic Guacamole Ingredients
- Purple Onion
Mango Salsa Ingredients
- Red Bell Pepper
- Green Bell Pepper
- Purple Onion
- Chili Powder
- Rice Vinegar (Optional)
Avocados, when ripe, have a luscious, smooth texture that compliments crispy chips or cucumbers. No wonder guacamole commonly appears on Mexican restaurant menus as the perfect starter for a meal or as a side dish with rice, beans, and shredded lettuce.
The avocado fruit not only brings great flavor and texture to dishes, but it cools down overly spiced or heated palettes, and it’s good for you.
When is an avocado ready and ripe?
Avocados taste most delicious when ripe. Waiting the right amount of time before cutting into your avocado can be tricky. When the skin of your avocado is black and gives way slightly when you press your fingers against it, the avocado has reached ripeness. If you eat an avocado before allowing it to ripen, the avocado will have a stiffer texture, making it harder to break down in guacamole or other dips.
When avocados begin to brown, their texture becomes a bit mushier and not as silky. Try adding extra lime or vinegar to your guacamole to keep it from browning. (This is especially important if you intend to store any leftovers in the refrigerator.)
Along with bringing extra color and brightness to your guacamole or mango salsa, purple onion also adds a zesty piquant flavor to these dips. That’s right, the extra pizazz that will keep you coming back for more is red onion.
Any onions will do. You can try sweet Vidalia onions, green onions, leeks, or shallots.
I love the contrast of color a purple onion brings to these dips, so perhaps a purple shallot would be the best alternative to keep your dips as aesthetically pleasing as they are delicious. No onions in your kitchen? Try using onion powder for a similar flavor without the added crunch.
For those with onion allergies that enjoy crunchy textures, replacing the onions with celery, fennel, or jicama will provide a similar mouth-feel for your delight. This exchange will change the taste of the dips, but both ingredients pair nicely with avocados, mangos, and the other ingredients in guacamole and mango salsa.
I love garlic. It pairs beautifully with meats and vegetables, making them sing in earthy, tangy goodness.
In this recipe, I use garlic saturated in olive oil.
Sometimes pure, raw garlic can have an almost metallic aftertaste, so if you plan to use fresh garlic, you may want to roast it in the oven first, try soaking it in olive oil for a few hours, or taste test it to see if its flavor is suitable to your taste buds.
If you don’t have garlic, garlic powder makes for a great substitute.
Surprisingly sweet and savory, tomatoes add depth of flavor to guacamole. Tomatoes are hardy enough to be noticeable in flavor and substance. They add definition to the creamy texture of your dip, hanging out somewhere between the texture of crunchy and juicy.
Tomatoes can occasionally bring too much liquid to guacamole. Squeezing out their juices before adding them to the guacamole preserves their outer flavor and structure without adding too much tomato water. Using smaller tomatoes like grape tomatoes (which contain less liquid) can also keep your guacamole from becoming watery.
Many people I know have never eaten a tomatillo. Tomatillos taste a bit like a cross between a lime and a tomato. Sweet, sour, tangy, bright tomatillos are commonly found in Verde sauces, guacamole, and other Latin dishes. If you have never had tomatillos before, you will love the way they light up a dish.
Add a little spice to your guacamole with jalapeños. I love jalapeños for their mild spice level. You can add small amounts of jalapeno at a time to build heat without overpowering the other ingredients in your guacamole or mango salsa.
I prefer staying within the realm of Latin flavors when making my guacamole, adding peppers like Anaheim (mild), poblanos (mild), Scoville (heat can vary), habanero (quite spicy), or Serrano (very hot) peppers.
Keep in mind, some guests enjoy spice more than others. If you are sharing this guacamole, and you don’t know your guests’ spice level preferences, air on the side of caution by chopping peppers finely and placing them in dishes beside the guacamole. This allows each person to personalize their dip according to their own heat tolerance.
You can also add dried spices like Cayenne pepper or chili powder in place of fresh peppers.
Along with keeping your avocados green, lime adds a hint of acid which lifts your palette into exquisite pleasure. While unnoticeable to the eye, lime is a key ingredient that adds flavor to mango salsa and guacamole.
Lemons, Oranges, Tangerines, Grapefruits, or any other citrus can be used in guacamole, but lime keeps your guacamole most authentic.
Herbs, especially fresh herbs, add an awakening freshness to food. Cilantro, in particular, is one of the first flavors that comes to mind when I think “fresh.”
While cilantro perfectly complements guacamole, many people connect its floral undertones with the flavor of soap, making it an unpleasant flavor for them. If you are one of these people, parsley is an easy and readily available alternative that adds a similarly clean taste to food. Other herbs like basil or garden-fresh oregano might also serve as good alternatives to cilantro.
The refreshing taste of mango makes this salsa uniquely sweet and invigorating. Fruit in salsa may seem crazy, but the vibrant color and clean taste of fruit mixed with spices and savory ingredients make for a perfect balance in mango salsa.
Peaches, pineapples, strawberries, jicama, and pretty much any fresh fruit or vegetable that can be eaten raw and hold its texture and taste against peppers and onions would taste great in salsa.
Red Bell Peppers
The beauty that red bell peppers add to this dish is undeniable. Red bell peppers work hard to provide extra color and flavor in your mango salsa. Their earthy sweetness intensifies when roasted, so if you have extra time, try tossing them in the oven, peeling their skin, and chilling them before adding them to the salsa.
Yellow or orange peppers also taste great and add extra vibrant color to salsas.
Green Bell Peppers
For more earthiness and color, add green bell peppers to this salsa.
Rice Vinegar (optional)
When added in small amounts, rice vinegar preserves ingredients during storage. I added just 1/2 TBSP to my salsa. It also adds a little more acidity to dishes to perk up your taste buds. Be careful not to add too much, or you will end up with overly sour mango salsa.
Any other cooking vinegar that you feel would taste great in salsa can be used in place of rice vinegar, but try avoiding dark-colored vinegar as it takes away from the bright color of the salsa. After all, people often eat with their eyes first.
Typical dip pairings like chips, crackers, cucumbers, carrots, or other “edible spoons” are perfect for these two delicious dips. You can also use guacamole or mango salsa as a chutney or topping for fish, pork, chicken, beef, or pretty much any main savory entree. Try mixing either dip with rice, black beans, or pigeon peas.
Top tropical fish like mahi-mahi with mango salsa, and it will be a treat for your taste buds. Smear guacamole over toast and add pulled pork or fresh sliced tomatoes, and you have yourself a delicious sandwich.
A refreshing, Latin-inspired cocktail like this Mezcal Melonrita compliments the fresh flavors in these dips. Also, who can deny the classic combination of Latin flavors and crisp, clean Corona with lime? A cold pitcher of sangria also pairs nicely with these dips and stretches to serve many folks at your fiesta.
- 1 Avocado
- 1/4 Purple Onion
- a small scoop of Garlic saturated in olive oil
- 10 Small Grape Tomatoes
- 1/2 Tomatillo
- 1/2 of a large Jalapeno
- 1/2 the juice of a Lime
- 1 TBSP Cilantro
- Remove skin, stem, and pit from an avocado. Cut avocado into small slices. Using a spoon mash avocados until they are integrated and creamy in texture.
- Slice grape tomatoes in half with a serrated knife (remove any stems) and add them to your avocado mixture.
- Remove the outside layer from your tomatillo. Slice tomatillo in half, and dice into small pieces (about the size of your grape tomatoes). Add tomatillo slices to your avocado mixture.
- Slice jalapeno in half (remove seeds and ribs if you prefer your guacamole less spicy), dice, and add to your avocado mixture.
- Add a small scoop of garlic saturated in olive oil into your avocado mixture along with one TBSP of cilantro.
- Dice 1/4 of red onion and add to your avocado mixture.
- Squeeze half of a lime's juice into your avocado mixture.
- Add salt (to taste).
- Add pepper (to taste).
- Add Chili powder (to taste).