3 Secrets for the Best Avocado Toasts
Look, I’m going to be honest. If you put avocado on bread, even with no garnish or no extras, it will still be good. I mean, what’s not to like? Bread, yum. Avocado, yum.
But I have 3 secrets that I learned in my 5 years living in Italy about how to make toasted bread pop. Hmm…“pop” really isn’t the right word. A better description might be “explode in your mouth with flavor, heart-warming goodness.” These 3 simple secrets don’t involve any fancy ingredients or any fancy techniques, either—it’s all very simple. And it turns out that these secrets for toasted bread pair perfectly with avocado.
It won’t be the first time Italian culinary traditions are employed in California-style cooking: making the perfect avocado toast is really about bruschetta and understanding what makes an authentic Italian bruschetta so good.
First of all, bruschetta (pronounced broo-sketta, not broo-shetta) does NOT by definition come with tomatoes. “What? Isn’t bruschetta all about tomatoes and basil?” No. Bruschetta is all about the bread. In fact, in Tuscany they call bruschetta fett’unta, which simply means oiled bread. If you are paying close attention, you will have just picked up one secret to avocado toast: oil (specifically, olive oil). We’ll elaborate on this later.
So, let’s discuss how to make a bruschetta. First, you toast the bread. Since the word bruschetta comes from the Roman bruscare, or “to roast over hot coals,” this should ideally be done over the fire pit in your back yard. But for most of us, this will likely take place in a toaster or in the broiler of the oven.
Then, while the bread is still hot, take a whole piece of peeled garlic and rub the bread with it in long, sweeping swipes. The crunchiness of the bread will break down the garlic just enough that it leaves its flavor behind. Note that you won’t see this happen—you won’t see any residue of garlic on the bread, and you won’t immediately see any wearing down of the garlic clove itself. But, if you pick the bread up and bring it to your nose, you will immediately smell the goodness.
As you bask in the aroma, take a good (or at least decent) bottle of extra virgin olive oil and liberally pour it onto the bread until it drips down the sides and onto the plate. To complete the masterpiece, stick your fingers into some kosher salt and sprinkle away. That’s all you need (I mean, other than the motor skills to bring the bread directly into your mouth for devouring). Just these small steps alone make the toasted bread surprisingly good. And yes, these bruschetta secrets should be the base of every avocado toast you make.
Here’s the breakdown of the 3 secrets of bruschetta that you need to make the best avocado toasts ever.
- Garlic: rub it on. Once the bread is toasted, take a whole piece of peeled garlic (learn to peel garlic here) and gently swipe it across the bread. Remember, you won’t see the residue of the garlic on the bread—so don’t overdo it. Just give it 2-3 swipes until you can clearly smell the garlic on the toast.
- Olive oil: pour it right on the bread.Just like Italians generously pour their liquid gold onto bread for bruschetta, you will pour your extra virgin olive oil onto the bread of your avocado toast. It’s not one tiny little measly drizzle: you want to coat the entire surface of the bread and even let some drip off the sides. And, by the way, a second drizzle of olive oil on top of your finished avocado toast will make the whole thing even yummier. “More olive oil? Will it be fattening?” Let me tell you what the Italians think about bread and oil: bread won’t stick to your ribs if it’s coated in olive oil. Yes, that’s what they say. If you’re going to eat bread, have it with lots of olive oil, so it will just pass on through your system. Who knows if that’s true, but it’s a lifestyle choice I can live with (Learn How to Choose Olive Oil here).
- Sprinkle on the salt:Kosher salt is my go-to for cooking, but Celtic, Himalayan, and sea salt will all serve you well here. Heck, as long as you aren’t using table salt, I’m happy. Once the bread is garlic-ed and oiled, sprinkle on a touch of salt. This will be your bruschetta base. But that’s not all, folks—you need to salt the avocado as soon as it smashed on the bread. It should be a gut reaction: “avocado” means “add salt.” This goes for any recipe with avocado—it requires salt to bring out its flavor.
- Toast the bread.
- Rub whole garlic on it.
- (Generously) drizzle the bread with olive oil.
- Salt the bread.
- Smash the avocado.
- Sprinkle the avocado with salt.
- Add whatever else you like.
- Finish with another drizzle of olive oil.
Now, before I leave you to design and devour your creation, I will leave you with a couple more tips:
Bread—choose a good multi-grain. Avocado toast needs a strong base, so don’t skimp. Buy a hearty, artisan multi-grain loaf. When I say “artisan,” I don’t mean the already sliced-and-bagged bread on grocery shelves. I love the freshly baked whole grain bread from Trader Joe’s and the whole grain loaf from La Brea Bakery. The complexity of the whole grains pairs really well with the creamy, fresh flavor of the avocado. But the bread doesn’t need to be super fresh, FYI—you don’t need to buy a special loaf each time you want an avocado toast. The good thing about toasting bread is that it brings staled bread back to life. So, make it easy on yourself. Slice the entire loaf when you get it, as fresh bread is easier to cut. If you aren’t making it all at once, leave it in the paper bag it came in, close it up, or freeze the rest until you need it.
Add lemon. Lemon compliments the avocado. Squeeze fresh lemon directly on top of your smashed avocado for an acidic pop to the toast. Also try using lemon zest for a fresh, non-acidic lemon-y taste to your concoction (to learn the difference of lemon zest vs. lemon juice, read here).