Sandwich

Avocado Toast Advice, From a Few Professionals

September 10, 2014

In our Phone a Friend column, we'll be asking some of our friends around the food world about how they cook and eat. And we want you to join the conversation, too. 

Today: In honor of Avocado Toast Week, we're polling some of our favorite people on how they customize this universally loved snack.

Avocados

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In case you missed it, we have declared this week to be Avocado Toast Week by the powers vested in us as official members of its fan club. We already showed you 5 ways to dress up this creamy-crunchy creation and how to keep your avocados at their greenest. Because we were curious (and have a mild case of FOMO), we asked you to show us how you enjoy this choose-your-own-adventure of a snack. And because we don't believe enough is ever enough, we've polled a few of our friends to see how they layer their own toast. We want to hear from you, too! Read on, then weigh in in the comments.

Avocado Toast

Chad Robertson, owner of San Francisco's Tartine Bakery: Avocado, sea salt, sardines (I prefer La Belle-Iloise), freshly cracked black pepepr, and Crystal hot sauce on whole grain Tartine toast. I bring sardines back from Brittany whenever I visit Patrick LePort, one of my baking mentors, since La Belle-Iloise has a store near LePort's boulangerie.

More: You don't have to fly to Brittany for great sardines -- here are some of our favorites.

Nick Balla and Courtney Burns, chefs at Bar Tartine and authors of the Bar Tartine cookbook: Our avocado toast is served on grilled country toast with homemade goat cheese, brown mustard that we make in-house with dill flower vinegar, and scrambled eggs.

Oliver Strand, writer: The grace note of an avocado toast -- or an avocado smash, as they call it in Australia, where I’m fairly sure it was invented -- is that it fires the same fatty, custard-y, melty, crunchy sensors that go off when you slather toast with butter, or peanut butter, or fresh ricotta, only you feel virtuous because an avocado is green and grows on a tree. You’re not just indulging, you’re also doing something healthy. You win.

Avocado Toast

This summer I made a round of avocado toasts nearly every afternoon; one for my toddling son, one for my mother who flew across the country for an extended play date with him, and one for me. Three generations happily munching on the same snack. I kept it simple: toasted, thick-cut bread, a quick drizzle of olive oil, a generous mash of ripe avocado (at least one half per toast -- enough to fill you up), another drizzle of olive oil, the tiniest squeeze of lemon, then a sprinkle of sea salt and something with a gently spicy kick -- crushed chili flakes, piment d’espelette, merkén, or aleppo pepper.

Like all uncomplicated but perfect dishes, you need to pay attention to every element of avocado toast in order to achieve the right balance of textures and flavors. I like to tip mine towards the fatty side -- too much lemon and it’s a salad -- which means using a good amount of sea salt to wake up the bread, oil, and avocado.  

Avocado Toast

The Infatuation’s Andrew Steinthal: Smashed, with some olive oil, chili pepper flakes, and an egg on top...

The Infatuation’s Chris Stang: ...and lemon. Lots of it.

Molly Yeh of mynameisyeh: I remove a slice of Ezekiel bread from my freezer (with any luck, this requires minimal hassle in breaking apart the slice) and put it in the microwave for 15 seconds. During this time I place a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and drizzle a bit of oil on it or, if i'm extra chipper, i'll run to the fridge to grab a pat of butter and throw it in. I just need to make sure this all happens in less than 15 seconds because I really, deeply hate the sound that the microwave makes when the time is up. When one second is left on the clock, I swing open the microwave door and retrieve the bread with my bare hands. I carry it over to the skillet and rub it around in the oil or butter and then flip it and let that side get nice and toasty and brown while I vigorously salt the side that is face-up and greased.

More: It's hard to have avocado toast without avocados. Learn all about these fruits (well, technically berries).

Avocado Toast

At this point I slice open an avocado and place the side with the pit in the refrigerator for a later use. I use a sharp knife to cut 1/2-inch slices in the pitted side, the long (hot dog) way. Throughout this process I check the progress of my bread and eventually flip it over so that the other side can get toasty. (I inspect this new face-up side to make sure that it's greasy enough, then drizzle on more oil if needed, and salt, of course -- kosher salt.) 

Once the bread is toasted to my liking -- or at least to my accepting, depending on how hungry I am -- I place it on a paper towel and then wrestle with my sharp knife to extract the avocado slices from the skin. If I'm feeling luxurious, I'll dirty up an entire other utensil, such as a spoon or fork, to make my life easier for this step, but usually I just wrestle. I distribute my avocado slices on the toast, smash them quickly and sloppily, sprinkle on more salt, grind on some pepper, and if it's a really really reeeeeeally fantastically good day, I add two slices of salami. I eat this in front of my computer and then probably go back for seconds.

More: Another surefire way to have a fantastically good day? Start it off with salami and butter on a bagel.

J. Kenji López-Alt of Serious Eats' The Food Lab: Oh, easy! I spread a layer of warm refried beans on top of some toasted whole-wheat or multigrain bread, then I layer on sliced avocado (none of this mashing nonsense), some slivered white onions, and a sprinkle of good coarse sea salt for crunch. I even wrote a post about it.

Ignacio Mattos, chef at New York's Estela: For me, it's all about the avocado. I beat it with little bit of olive oil and just a sprinkle of sea salt, then put it on a dense multigrain bread. I like it as simple as possible -- but the bread must be really charred.

Charred Garlic Bread Avocados

Missing our typical Too Many Cooks column? Don't fret -- on Friday, we'll be polling Food52 staffers with the same question. Stay classy, avocado toast-lovers.

9 Comments

JJ September 22, 2014
I mean " I bring sardines back from Brittany whenever I visit Patrick LePort, one of my baking mentors, since La Belle-Iloise has a store near LePort's boulangerie." - Get over yourself.
 
JJ September 22, 2014
This is the most pretentious site I have ever seen.
 
Susan P. September 17, 2014
My dear Grandmother cherished avocado toast whenever she could and always seasoned it with a sprinkle of Beau Monde. Thus, Beau Monde exists in my spice collection today for an avocado "smash".
 
Kelli September 13, 2014
I darkly toast a hearty multigrain bread (like la brea), and then take 1/2 an avocado and mash it on to the bread. Add a layer of smoked salmon and sprinkle capers, sea salt and pepper on the top. Heaven!
 
Catherine September 11, 2014
I like to do a riff on this avocado toast at a local restaurant they call Avocado Love, which involves smashed avocado, lemon juice, candied jalapeño with its honey-like syrup, reduced balsamic, and arugula. At home, I do smashed avocado, lemon, salt, pepper, tiny drizzle of honey, lots of hot sauce, and red pepper flakes. Kinda weird, but kind of awesome. The standard of avocado, lemon, olive oil, and sea salt is of course my go-to, amazing snack.
 
AntoniaJames September 10, 2014
I'm totally with Robertson on the sardines. I go back and forth as to whether the sardines go down first, and are mashed into the holes in the toast (Robertson's Tartine baguettes, which I make at home fairly often) with a touch of mustard, or should they go on top. Either way, a lot of freshly ground pepper goes on top, as does Maldon salt, if the sardines (or kippered herring, also a favorite for this purpose!) don't provide enough salt. Dead-ripe tomatoes + dukkah comprise another favorite combination. ;o)
 
suzi September 10, 2014
This is nothing new for me- an old concept really. Growing up in Hawaii we always had plenty of ripe avocados that needed to be eaten. Mom and dad smashed slices on their toast with the tines of a fork long before I realizes it was good for me. It was just what you do. Continuing the tradition I do the same, except for topping it with an egg of some sort or anything else I have on hand that I can think of. Right now it's very ripe luscious tomatoes from my garden. If that's not enough, a dash of smokey paprika takes it over the top, and a clump of fresh sprouts from my window sill. The possibilities are endless!
 
Julie @. September 10, 2014
Smashed on multigrain bread with a slice of roasted turkey and a slice of tomato. Simply delicious and healthy.
 
Denise |. September 10, 2014
Delicious theme! I'm a big sucker for avocado toast and have a new favorite recipe pretty much every month. My current favorite is based on the one I ate in a lovely little cafe in Copenhagen. Simple, and so good: http://tlt-thelittlethings.com/2014/08/18/atelier-septembers-avocado-sandwich/