top of page

Cooking with a Pinch of History: Ensalada de Guacamole

by Brittany Avila

Hello again! After a brief reprieve from the cocina I’m back and ready to dive into cooking up history! I thought I would ease back into my cooking skills with a simple and healthy recipe from Don Ricardo’s Early California and Mexico Cookbook, perfect for the pre-summer heat Santa Barbara has been experiencing. In this recipe you can just make the guacamole and pair with your favorite chips, or you can add the lettuce which makes up the ensalada or salad portion, to create more of a meal.


1 med. size avocado

2 med. size tomatoes

2 tbs. green onion (finely chopped)

3 tbs. canned green chili peppers (finely chopped)

2 tbs. oil (I used olive oil)

½ tsp. salt

2 tbs. lemon juice

1 med. size head of lettuce (cut up)

Puree the avocado meat.

Avocado is native to Mexico, but there is not much evidence of it being grown in Early CA. It is possible that settlers could have brought this fruit up with them.

Add tomatoes, green onion and green chili pepper. Mix well.

Presidio families regularly tended small vegetable gardens to enhance their staple food supplies.  Onions were among the of the most popular vegetables.

Add lemon, oil and salt. Mix Well.Pour over your chopped up lettuce.

Lettuce was known to grow at Mission Carmel, which did not have an irrigation system so the friars watered everything by hand with gourds.

I like to fluff up my salads a lot, so I strayed from the recipe and also added cooked black beans to mine.


Hardwick, Michael. Changes in Landscape: The Beginning of Horticulture in the California Missions, Paragon Agency Publishers, Orange, CA, 2005, p.6-7, 25, 67.

Ricardo, Don. Early California and Mexico Cookbook, Pacifica House Inc. Publishers, 1968, p.26.

Brittany Avila is SBTHP’s Office Manager and is enjoying  pursuing her dream to be a maestro de la cocina



bottom of page