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Recipe: Papalo-Tomatillo Guacamole

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Bouquet of Fresh Papalo | Photo by Maria Zizka

This is part of a series of multimedia stories curated through a collaboration between Earthworks Farm and KCETLink. Watch a segment from KCET's "SoCal Connected" and visit the project hub for more information.This series of recipes highlights the crops grown at Earthworks Farm.

Papalo is a tender, fragrant herb native to Mesoamerica. You might hear it referred to as pápaloquelite, Bolivian coriander, summer cilantro, Porophyllum ruderale, or skunk weed. That last one is truly a misnomer -- this herb smells like an herbaceous lime, a freshly mowed lawn, and a slightly smoky, very hoppy beer. It has the peppery flavor of nasturtium flowers.

In parts of Bolivia and Mexico, bouquets of papalo are set on tables in restaurants so that diners may help themselves by pinching off leaves and sprinkling them over their meal. Papalo is also commonly used as medicine throughout Central and South America to treat liver ailments and reduce blood pressure.

Papalo leaves are delicate and don't dry well. Look for bunches of fresh papalo at farmers markets and in Latin grocery stores.

Papalo-Tomatillo Guacamole | Photo by Maria Zizka

Papalo-Tomatillo Guacamole

Makes about 1 cup

1 garlic clove, peeled
1 small serrano or jalapeño pepper, seeds and stem removed
6 ounces tomatillos (about 4 large), husked, rinsed, and quartered
¼ cup loosely packed papalo leaves
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
1 ripe, small avocado
Freshly squeezed lime juice (optional)

Combine the garlic, pepper, tomatillos, papalo, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Blend until finely chopped. Slice the avocado in half, remove the pit, and peel off the skin. Cut the avocado into large pieces, add them to the bowl of the food processor, and blend until smooth. If you like, you can thin the guacamole with some freshly squeezed lime juice.

Store the guacamole, covered with a piece of plastic pressed directly against the surface, in the refrigerator.

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