Yesterday morning, I was assembling avocado toast in the staff kitchen when one of my coworkers walked in, pulled an avocado out of her bag, and said, “Emma! Same!” This tells you all you need to know about our office. Sort of like that time I made avocado toast for breakfast, got to work, then found out that our team lunch was—surprise!—avocado toast. Because it’s avocado toast’s world. We’re just living in it.
And riffing on it. Maybe some feta and mint. Or anchovies and boiled egg. Or preserved lemon and harissa. At the bakery where I worked, we made this seedy bread, smashed avocado on top, plus shaved cucumbers or radishes, like roof tiles or fish scales, and a generous pour of thick, local buttermilk.
All these variations build on the classic foundation—an open-faced sandwich—like an addition on a house. Here, I wanted to channel one of those home renovation shows (and by that, I mean the closest I’ve ever gotten to watching a home renovation show: the Queer Eye reboot) and break down some walls, paint some cabinets, film the husband and wife when they walk through the door and oh, she’s crying! I’m crying! Everyone’s crying!
Panzanella makes people cry, right? This Tuscan bread salad is just what it sounds like—a salad made out of bread, not lettuce, with lots of tomatoes and olive oil and vinegar, maybe some onions and basil, too. I was daydreaming about this—as one inevitably does in the doldrums of winter—while eating avocado toast and, just like that, the idea flickered, then gleamed, like a light bulb, or the sun. Avocado toast salad!
Here’s how we’ll do it:
- The bread: Sliced bread is not the best thing here—too thin. We want giant, torn, shaggy chunks. Find a crusty-edged, fluffy-centered loaf. I like a wheaty, seedy variety, but a sourdough would do well, too. Very thickly slice, then tear into pieces with your hands, like the savage that you are. Drizzle with olive oil and toast until crispy.
- Seeds: Actually, while the oven is on, why not toast some seeds, too? I opted for sunflower and sesame. You could also go the nut route—walnuts or pecans or pistachios for more green.
- Veggies: I called in my go-to avo toast toppings: cucumbers, radishes, and red onions. Maybe you’ll want some tomatoes or bell pepper, raw zucchini or roasted butternut, even oil-cured olives or sun-dried tomatoes.
- Fresh herbs: Again, this is personal! I went with basil, dill, and parsley. But no one is stopping you from choosing mint or tarragon or oregano.
- Dressing: Funky dairy and avocado are strange bedfellows, but they work. Think back to that feta or buttermilk. I channeled this with a lemony, olive oily Greek yogurt dressing.
Avocado Toast Salad
- 6 tablespoons Greek yogurt, preferably whole-milk
- 5 tablespoons just-squeezed lemon juice (about 1 1/2 lemons)
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pinch kosher salt
- 1/2 loaf crusty, seedy, whole-wheaty bread, very thickly sliced, then torn into pieces (about 5 1/2 cups)
- 6 tablespoons raw sunflower seeds
- 1/4 cup raw sesame seeds
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
- 2 pinches kosher salt
- 2 pinches freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Persian cucumbers, thinly sliced
- 5 radishes, thinly sliced
- 1/2 small red onion, very thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup barely chopped basil, divided
- 1/4 cup barely chopped dill, divided
- 1/4 cup parsley leaves, divided
- 2 large avocados, cubed
How do you riff on avocado toast? Tell us in the comments!