Follow these chef tips to up the ‘avo’ toast ante

Tribune News Service photo

It’s the food I love to hate: avocado toast.

I confessed in an October post that the affection for this simple snack turned millennial must-have eludes me. Ordering it in a restaurant when it’s so easily prepared at home is even more baffling, I opined.

More recently, avocado toast has become my trigger for logging off Instagram. Once I’ve hit the 10th painstakingly prepared and scrupulously styled portrait of avocado toast in my feed, I know I’ve reached the culinary-trend saturation point, and it’s time to move on for the day.

Indeed, all things avocado have so infiltrated the collective pop culture consciousness that Merriam-Webster recently announced that the slang “avo” has earned status among 840 new words in its online dictionary. And more than a dozen of these additions are food-related, including the mash-ups “mocktail” and “zoodle” (noodles carved from long strips of zucchini) and abbreviations “guac” (short for guacamole) and “zuke” — the apt nickname for none other than zucchini.

By the colloquial barometer, it doesn’t look like avocado toast is going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, chefs in the Twin Cities area recently revealed their top tips for avocado toast in a story by Tribune News Service. Maybe some of these tricks might convince me that avocado toast is worth paying for.

Start with good toast. Chefs may use multigrain or not-too-crusty sourdough, but a thick slice — 1/2 inch or thicker — is the best vehicle for a hearty helping of avocado.

Balance the avocado’s richness with acid. Chefs use anything from a good, vinegary, pickled vegetable to freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Incorporate a textural contrast. Sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and roasted chickpeas all add protein and crunch. For purists, stick with large-flake sea salt.

Intensify avocado’s color and complement its flavor with other green vegetables. Try zucchini, peas, cucumbers, edamame, asparagus, scallions and fresh herbs. Use whatever’s in season but feel free to improvise, so long as toppings don’t overwhelm the primary ingredient. Avocado toast, at its best, is a casual dish meant to showcase ripe fruit with a few fresh, colorful, intensely flavored garnishes.

Marrying the avocado and hummus trends is this recipe, adapted by the Los Angeles Times from Momed restaurant. Perhaps mischaracterized as hummus, it contains no chickpeas but infuses avocado with all the spread’s typical flavors.

Avocado Hummus

3 avocados, peeled and seeded

1 garlic clove, peeled and minced

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup lime juice

1/4 cup tahini

1/2 teaspoon cumin

Salt, to taste

In a food processor, combine the avocado, garlic, lemon and lime juices, tahini, cumin and 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste. Puree mixture until smooth. Taste and adjust flavoring and seasoning if desired. This makes about 3 cups hummus, which should keep, covered and refrigerated, up to one day.

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