Smashed Avocado Tartines with Chile-Garlic Oil

The first week we lived in our new apartment was basically indoor camping. We had running water, of course, and an air mattress–but I’d have given anything for a hammock.

Having moved a million times before, I packed a little kitchen kit in the car so we’d be able to cook (and eat) before the moving truck arrived with the rest of our stuff. My kit contained plates, bowls, silverware, glasses, coffee mugs, a mixing bowl, a frying pan, a saucepan, a paring knife, a chef’s knife, a bread knife, a spatula, a wooden spoon, a whisk, a can opener, and measuring cups and spoons. We were relatively well-equipped, but cooking anything complicated was out of the question.

So we happy campers needed simple but nourishing meals. And since my natural instinct upon moving to California was to EAT ALL THE AVOCADOS, a lot of our meals consisted of avocado toast. Or, as I’m calling it here, smashed avocado tartines with chile-garlic oil. Ooh la la. It may seem simple, but avocados from the farmer’s market (still warm from the sun) mashed with olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes, and then piled high on a slice of fresh bread from the bakery down the street was pretty much the best thing ever after a long journey across the country. Even if I had to eat it while sitting on the floor. Everything tastes better when you’re camping, right?

Smashed Avocado Tartines with Chile-Garlic Oil

Smashed Avocado Tartines with Chile-Garlic Oil

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves of garlic, skins removed and smashed
  • 4-6 slices ciabatta or other crusty bread
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 Tbs. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • salt and pepper, to taste

In a small saucepan combine oil, red pepper flakes, and garlic. Heat on medium-high for about 3-5 minutes, or until pepper and garlic starts sizzling. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking for about five minutes. Watch the garlic carefully during this step so it doesn’t burn. Remove from heat, strain out garlic and pepper, and set oil aside to cool for at least five minutes.

Slice the avocados in half and remove the pits. Scoop out the flesh into a small bowl. Add the lime juice and 2 tsp. of the chile-garlic oil. Stir the mixture with a fork, gently smashing the avocado until it’s creamy but still has some chunks remaining. Stir in salt and pepper to taste.

Brush slices of bread with chile-garlic oil and grill until toasted– either on an actual grill, a grill pan on the stove, or simply a frying pan. Top the toasted bread with even amounts of the avocado mixture. Drizzle with additional chile-garlic oil and sprinkle with more red pepper flakes, if desired.

Serves 2-3.

Source: Smells Like Home

Note: The remaining oil can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for a few weeks. Bring to room temperature before using.

Arugula Pesto

Greetings from sunny southern California! Yep, we made the move. It’s been a hectic few weeks of packing, traveling, waiting, unpacking, organizing, and reorganizing, but I’m starting to feel much more settled in our new home.

Getting all my cooking gear off the moving truck was the first step in feeling at home. Of course I was most anxious about my stand mixer, but I was also excited to see our pizza stone made the 2000-mile journey intact. Gabe and I make pizza together quite frequently, because it’s easy, delicious, and endlessly versatile. Cranking the oven up to 500° and rolling out a fresh batch of dough was a surefire way for us to feel more at home.

Last week, I made a pizza topped with caramelized onions, ricotta, and arugula– and I was left with a boatload of arugula. Not wanting to let those lovely greens go to waste, I used my magical food processor to whirl up some pesto. Pesto is one of my favorite things to make. Greens, garlic, parmesan, nuts, olive oil, and lemon juice. So simple. So good. Arugula pesto has a delightfully peppery flavor that distinguishes it from standard basil pesto, but it can be used in similar ways. Toss it with pasta or fresh veggies. Or eat it as I do: on top of toast slathered with ricotta. Mmm, mmm good.

Arugula pesto

Arugula Pesto

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 cups packed arugula leaves
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  •  1/4-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice

In a food processor, combine pine nuts, garlic, arugula, parmesan, and salt. Chop until coarsely chopped and blended. Add 1/4 cup olive oil and lemon juice, and blend until creamy.  (Add more olive oil if needed to make the mixture smooth.) Taste and add more salt and lemon juice if desired.

Makes about one cup.

Pesto can be stored in the refrigerator for about a week, or in the freezer for up to six months. I like to freeze it in an ice cube tray and then save the cubes of pesto in a plastic freezer bag to use as needed.

Source: Adapted from Max Sussman and Eli Sussman via Epicurious.