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Recipes: Avocado toasts six ways

A swipe of Sriracha or harissa, some sunflower seeds or pepitas, can add flair and flavor to this great snack or quick meal.

Experiment with the many possible variations on Elemental Avocado Toasts.
PHOTO BY ANTHONY TIEULI; FOOD STYLING BY SHEILA JARNES/ENNIS INC.
Experiment with the many possible variations on Elemental Avocado Toasts.

It’s no wonder that avocado toasts are as popular as ever. What other dish can provide so much satisfaction with so little effort? Toast a slice of bread, cut open an avocado, and a minute later you’re sitting down to a filling, healthy plate of happy.

Avocado is terrific au naturel, with just a bit of salt and pepper, but it almost begs for additional toppings: a swipe of Sriracha or harissa, a sprinkle of sunflower seeds or pepitas, or combinations like those in this week’s recipes. And take care with its two namesake elements: Make sure the avocado is fully ripe; and that the bread is well toasted, to help it stand up to the moisture in the fruit.

Elemental Avocado Toasts

Makes 2 toasts

The modest citrusy dressing serves two purposes: to season the avocado, and as a hedge against it browning quickly. The sliced avocado isn’t strictly necessary, but it looks prettier than the avocado mash. Both ideas come from America’s Test Kitchen.

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I love whole grain bread for these toasts. Eat the toasts immediately after preparing them to ensure that they will be crisp.

1teaspoon fresh lemon juice, or more, to taste
Salt and ground black pepper
Pinch cayenne
1tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1ripe medium Hass avocado
2slices hearty whole grain bread, such as Dave’s Killer Bread, Ezekiel 4:9, or Eureka
Red pepper flakes, for garnish, optional

In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon salt, ground black pepper to taste, and cayenne until the salt is dissolved. Add the olive oil and whisk to blend.

Halve the avocado lengthwise and remove the pit. Cut the flesh of one half into thin, lengthwise slices (¼-inch to -inch thick); leave them in place and set the half on a plate cut side down. Cut the flesh of the other half in a crosshatch pattern (about ¾ inch), scoop the flesh into the bowl with the dressing mixture, and mix, mashing the avocado lightly, leaving some larger pieces for texture. Adjust the seasoning with lemon juice, salt, and/or ground black pepper and set aside.

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Toast the bread. Working quickly, divide the mashed avocado mixture between the two slices of toast and spread to the edges. Use a dinner spoon to carefully scoop the slices out of the other half and fan half of them attractively over each toast. Sprinkle each very lightly with salt and ground black pepper, sprinkle lightly with red pepper flakes if using, and serve at once.

Variations

Avocado Toasts with Miso, Nori, and Sesame

Makes 2 toasts

To develop this recipe, I chopped nori in sheet form rather than buying a container of nori flakes. If you shop for the flakes, remember to distinguish between them and furikake, which is a ubiquitous Japanese seasoning mixture based on flaked nori and dried fish, very often with additional seasonings. The furikake would probably be good, too, if you don’t mind the stronger flavor.

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Follow the recipe for Elemental Avocado Toasts, making the following changes:

1) Substitute 1 teaspoon white (shiro) miso for the olive oil.

2) Drizzle the mashed avocado mixture on each piece of toast with a few drops (about ½ teaspoon) of Asian sesame oil and sprinkle each with about 2 teaspoons finely chopped nori or purchased nori flakes.

3) Sprinkle the avocado slices on each slice of toast with about ½ teaspoon lightly toasted sesame seeds.

TIP: SLICING AND DICING IN THE SHELL

There’s no need to skin an avocado half to remove the flesh. Using a paring knife, cut through the soft flesh down to, but not through, the skin, in a crosshatch pattern to create cubes or slices. Then use a soup spoon to scoop out the pieces.
Anthony Tieuli
There’s no need to skin an avocado half to remove the flesh. Using a paring knife, cut through the soft flesh down to, but not through, the skin, in a crosshatch pattern to create cubes or slices. Then use a soup spoon to scoop out the pieces.

Avocado Toasts with Peppadews and Mint

Makes 2 toasts

Follow the recipe for Elemental Avocado Toasts, sprinkling about 1 tablespoon minced mild or hot Peppadews (about 2) and about 2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint over the sliced avocado on each toast. Omit the optional red pepper flakes.

Avocado Toasts with Goat Cheese, Honey, and Pepper Flakes

Makes 2 toasts

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Follow the recipe for Elemental Avocado Toasts, sprinkling about 1½ tablespoons crumbled goat cheese over the mashed avocado mixture on each toast and drizzling each with about 1½ teaspoons honey. Use the red pepper flakes, sprinkling about ¼ teaspoon over the sliced avocado on each toast.

Avocado Toasts with Arugula, Chicken, Blue Cheese, and Bacon

Makes 2 toasts

Inspired by the components of a classic Cobb salad, this is the heartiest variation of the bunch, definitely suitable for a light dinner.

Follow the recipe for Elemental Avocado Toasts, making the following changes:

1) In a medium skillet over medium heat, cook 4 slices of bacon until crisp; drain on paper towels and set aside.

2) In a small bowl, mix 1/3 cup finely diced cooked chicken and 3 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese.

3) Arrange a few leaves of arugula over the mashed avocado mixture on each toast and sprinkle half of the chicken-cheese mixture on each.

4) Arrange 2 slices of bacon over the sliced avocado on each toast. Omit the optional red pepper flakes.

Spicy Avocado Toasts with Sardines

Makes 2 toasts

A few years ago, much ado was made about how Food Network celebrity Alton Brown lost a lot of weight by emphasizing sardine and avocado, or “sardicado,” sandwiches in his meal plan. For sardine lovers this is a great combination, which I realized on my own, without knowing that Alton and I were on parallel tracks.

I like a little something spicy on mine, so I usually reach for one of my favorite heat delivery vehicles, Korean gochujang (hot pepper paste), but Sriracha or a few drops of your favorite hot sauce would do nicely, too.

Follow the recipe for Elemental Avocado Toasts, making the following changes:

1) In a small bowl, mix 1 can (approximately 4 ounces) water or oil-packed sardines, drained well, with about 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste (they will break apart, which is inevitable, but try to leave some meaty chunks). Adjust the seasoning with lemon juice, salt, and/or pepper if necessary.

2) Dab gochujang to taste (I usually use about 1½ teaspoons) or Sriracha or your favorite hot sauce to taste over the mashed avocado mixture on each toast. Spread half the sardine mixture evenly on each, and arrange the sliced avocado over the sardines. Omit the optional red pepper flakes.

Adam Ried appears regularly on “America’s Test Kitchen.” Send comments to cooking@globe.com. Get the best of the magazine’s award-winning stories and features right in your e-mail inbox every Sunday. Sign up here.