September is often a beautiful time in New York. The thick debilitating heat of the summer leaves us and sends a subtle breeze with lots of sunshine. Giving us warm, sunny days and cool, breezy nights. I have the perfect appetizer for days such as this – a tasty tomato avocado salad.
Tomato avocado salad an uncomplicated dish with classic flavors. Just some sliced tomatoes set in a lime laced avocado puree and enhanced with a few distinctive flavors and textures. A relatively easy dish to make.
It’s a great opener to a meal. The flavors are distinctive, yet subtle. It has a myriad of textures, and the ingredients are easily sourced and familiar to all. There will be no need to explain what your guests have in front of them, but they will be surprised at how you put it together.
This tomato avocado salad is my effort to replicate the one I had at Ironside Fish & Oyster. A wonderful seafood restaurant in the Little Italy district in San Diego.
Ironside’s tomato avocado salad is impressive. As soon as my plate was put in front of me I could smell the earthy sweetness of the tomatoes. I knew I was in for a treat. It was clear that the tomatoes were sourced specifically for taste at first bite. All of my senses came alive.
There’s a trick to buying tasty tomatoes. Find ones that feel heavy for their size in the palm of your hand. When you give them a sniff, you should get that rich tomato smell. As if they have not long been picked.
Resist buying a container or bag of tomatoes, pick them yourself. Also avoid heirloom tomatoes as they often have a mushy consistency and that would not work well with the other textures in this dish.
I used beefsteak tomatoes, vine tomatoes and hybrid brown tomatoes known as Kumatoes. The reason for using a variety of tomatoes is not necessarily for taste, but for eye appeal. Make your choice of tomatoes dependent upon what is available, but you will need a contrast of colors, sizes and shapes. I cut some slices of tomatoes into quarters, to help with piling them on top of each other.
This tomato avocado salad might test your creativity a touch, but you will have fun creating it.
Imagine yourself swelling with pride when your guests beam at the impressive salad you place before them.
Tomato Avocado Salad
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup fresh basil sliced into ribbons
- 12 oz beefsteak tomatoes
- 12 oz hybrid tomatoes
- 8 oz vine tomatoes
- 3 hass avocados
- 2 1/2 tbsp lime juice
- 3/4 tsp sea salt
- 1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 8-12 fresh basil leaves
- 1/3 cup chives chopped
- Handful of the smallest basil leaves you can find in your bunch
- Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
Equipment & Utensils
- Small baking tray
- parchment paper
- Immersion blender
- 4 Bowls or plates to serve
- Preheat oven at 350.
- Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Mix basil ribbons with breadcrumbs then scatter onto lined baking sheet, ensuring the breadcrumbs are evenly distributed then place in the oven.
- Allow to toast for approx. 3-5 mins, then and if necessary toss breadcrumbs and redistribute to a thin layer and return to the oven to finish off.
- Remove from the oven when all of the breadcrumbs are golden and transfer to a bowl to cool.
- Slice tomatoes into 1/2 inch slices and set aside.
- Peel and deseed avocados, place in a bowl and add 1/2 the quantity of lime juice, salt and oil.
- Blend on a low setting with an immersion blender until avocado is completely pureed.
- Taste avocado puree and add the balance of the lime juice, salt and oil as you see fit.
- Spoon avocado puree into the base of the bowls, shake the puree around, and smooth the top off with the base of the spoon to give a swirl effect.
- Place 2-3 basil leaves in the middle of each bowl on top of the avocado, then sprinkle a pinch of chives on top.
- Place just one layer of tomatoes in each bowl.
- Sprinkle 1 tbsp of breadcrumbs on top of the tomatoes, then sprinkle balance of chives
- Continue to layer tomato slices making sure to use a mixture of tomato varieties in each bowl.
- Garnish with a few very small basil leaves in your bunch of basil.
- Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.