Friday, July 30, 2010

Avocado and Basil Tartine

 I hold my sister responsible for two of my habitual food indulgences:  bowls of Haagen-Dazs ice cream and cheese toasts.  When I was a young teenager I would spend my summers babysitting my niece and nephew and while they napped, I curled up on the couch to relish my moment of solitude with an afternoon snack of one of the above.  My sister's kitchen was ALWAYS stocked with Monterey jack or cheddar cheese, sliced sourdough, and chocolate and vanilla Haagen-Dazs.  There must be a Norwegian Johnsen gene that predisposes us to full-fat dairy cravings:)

I eventually went off to college and sadly left the kiddos behind, while taking my snack habits with me.  As I became older and wiser (a work in progress!) I adopted the "everything in moderation" code of consumption, and realized I needed to be more conservative with my dairy intake.  Now when I desire an accompaniment to a bowl of soup or salad, or a light afternoon snack, I make avocado toasts instead of cheese toasts.

Avocados are rich, creamy, and quite nutritious.  I can get pretty defensive when I often hear the usual response, "but avocados are so fattening!".  Let's look at a nutritional comparison:

                                        1oz. Avocado                              1oz. Cheddar cheese
                                        calories: 47                                  calories: 113
                                        total fat: 4 (1g saturated fat)          total fat: 9g (6g saturated fat)
                                        cholesterol: 0mg                           cholesterol: 29mg
                                        sodium: 2mg                                 sodium: 174mg
                                        carbohydrates: 2g                         carbohydrates: 0g
                                        fiber: 2g                                        fiber: 0g
                                        protein: 1g                                    protein: 7g

Yes, avocados contain fat, but the majority is in the form of monounsaturated fat, a "healthier" fat generally believed to lower LDL cholesterol.  I could get into a lengthy discussion of the supposed health benefits of monounsaturated fat, but then I'd get bored.  I would rather just state that avocados are an unadulterated whole food, naturally containing macronutrients, vitamins and minerals, with a pretty green flesh that tastes really good.  Enough said.

Avocado and Basil Tartine
serves 1
Adapted from Celine's Cuisine Farmers' Market cooking class
2 ounces bread (best with small rounds of baguette, but I often make it with a slice of rustic whole wheat)
1 1/2 ounces avocado (about 1/4 of a medium avocado), sliced
1 teaspoon olive oil*
4 almonds
A few leaves of fresh basil
Sea salt* and black pepper

  • Brush the bread with the olive oil and toast in a 400° oven until both sides are golden brown and crispy.  If using raw almonds, throw them on the pan with the toasts, but watch to make sure they don't burn.
  • Stack the basil leaves and roll them into a cigar and slice into thin strips (chiffonade).
  • Roughly chop the toasted almonds.
  • Using a fork, mash the avocado evenly onto the toast.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Top with the almonds and basil.
  • Using a bit of oil really helps create a crisp exterior on the toast (not a dry crumbly one).  One teaspoon of olive oil is not going to do you in! We Americans really need to get over the fat phobia!  That said, we don't need to be slathering it on either.  I always see Giada on the Food Network drizzling the oil over her toasts in a slow steady stream, but I feel like that method wastes more oil and prevents an even surface distribution.  I find that the best method is to measure out the oil in a small bowl and then apply with a pastry brush.  I especially like my silicone pastry brush since it's easy to clean and doesn't shed it's bristles onto the food.
  •  I love the texture of sea salt for a dish like this, but not in huge chunks.  Try Trader Joe's small containers of sea salt with a grinder sold in the spice aisle.

1 comment:

  1. Please come and make it for us...m