Avocado Toast with Arugula, Jersey Tomatoes, & Balsamic Reduction

I'm usually not one for food trends. I've got too much of an "authority issue" that if you tell me something is trendy, I will go in the opposite direction. Macaroons, cronuts, "artisanal" anything, $10 toast... all send shivers up my spine (and not in a good way).

So, when my husband told me he had "avocado toast" at a lunch in NYC with a colleague (one of the only vegetarian things on the brunch menu), I gave him one of those "oh no you di'int" blank stares. (It's a look I am semi-famous for!). He assured me at how great it was and how he couldn't stop thinking about it. "It's crave-able! Trust me." I'm sure I gave him one of my patented Marge Simpson guttural moans.

When we returned home from our trip, with few ingredients on hand to make dinner, I ran over to the farm stand near our house. Tons of Jersey tomatoes, great for sandwiches. "Hmmm... there are some avocados too. Hmmm... alright, I'll make him some friggin' avocado toast!" I caved. Truth-be-told, I have grown to love avocados over the past few years and their health benefits make me love them even more. That week, we had avocado toast every night for dinner. Totally caved. It's so easy to make and so good. Ok, I can see why it is a trend now. I give.

I made it so much in the past few weeks that I started experimenting with fancier ways to prepare it. With tons of basil and other herbs in the garden, I decided to make a Mediterranean version with some balsamic reduction that I picked up at Trader Joe's. If you don't have a TJs near you, balsamic reductions are pretty easy to make, you just need a bit of time and patience. The result is a thick, sweet sauce that has hardly any lingering vinegar flavor.

Mashing the avocado is a great way to involve kids in the kitchen. Mine always seem to fight over who gets to stir whatever I am making. My daughter loves avocados. My son, not so convinced.

You can use whatever bread you have on hand. Since these "artisinal toasts" are essentially just a trendy way of saying "opened-faced sandwich" you may want chose a hearty type that can stand the weight of your toppings. My favorites are the Tuscan Pane from Trader Joe's (pictured above) and Ezekiel bread. You can toast the bread in a plain ol' toaster, or get very chichi, and grill your bread using a little bit of olive oil and a cast iron pan.

Avocado Toast with Arugula, Jersey Tomatoes, & Balsamic Reduction (vegan)
Makes 2-4 (depending on your hunger and the size of the bread)

The recipe is for the avocado mash.

Ingredients
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 TB vegan mayo
  • 1 TB freshly minced basil
  • 1 tsp freshly minced thyme
  • 1/2 TB olive oil
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp good quality sea salt

Method
  • Mash all ingredients in a bowl, leaving some small chunks. Set aside in fridge.
  • Toast or grill bread.
  • Take one piece of toast, spread a thin layer of vegan mayo on the bread. Take a healthy sized scoop of the avocado mixture and spread over the mayo layer. Drizzle with a small amount of balsamic reduction. Add thinly sliced tomatoes (makes sure they are really good, juicy tomatoes-- not those pink and white kind from the off-season). Add more cracked sea salt. Top with arugula (I like a generous amount!) and then finish off with a drizzle of olive oil and cracked black pepper. 
  • Serve with a ton of napkins (or if you are super fancy, you can eat it with a knife and fork. I'm sure that would make your mom proud at how cultured you have become!)

4 comments:

  1. Haha. I get all eye-rolly about trendy restaurants and "celebrity" chefs in my city. I don't do that as much with vegan food trends. But I totally know what you mean!! I do love me some avo-toast though. It's just so good!

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    1. Though someone did make a vegan cronut and I have to try it! :)

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  2. I've seen the toast obsession all over blogs and restaurant menus lately...some inspiring, some not so much. Your version of avocado toast looks so delicious though that it's worth making. I have some extra avocados that are ripening quickly..so this might have to happen this weekend! :)

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    1. I literally saw EVERYONE eating fancy toast during brunch one morning at outdoor cafes in the NYC's East Village. Trend indeed!

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