Adapted from Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking (Wiley, 2009)
Avocados have been available to cooks in the Mediterranean since the sixteenth century, when Cortès brought them back from the New World. It was in Catalonia where I first tasted this simple dish, a combination of silky, paper-thin slices of ripe avocado and marinated fat strips of salty sardine fillets topped with crisp strings of scallions and chives, which makes for a great textural contrast — easy to duplicate and hard to forget.
The combination is based on a dish from the Canary Islands, but the brilliant execution is the work of the legendary master chef Ferran Adrià, famous for his culinary innovations, which include the use of foams, gelatinized liquid and savory lollipops.
Recipe © 2003 Paula Wolfert
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 scant tablespoon sherry wine vinegar
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Two (4 1/2-ounces) cans Portuguese whole sardines packed in olive oil
- 1 large firm, ripe Hass avocado
- 4 to 6 thin slices of day-old, country-style bread or gluten-free bread
- 4 scallions (white part only), cut lengthwise into thin strips
- Snipped chives, for garnish
Make the parsley vinaigrette: whisk together the olive oil with the parsley and vinegar in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Prepare the sardines: drain the sardines, divide into fillets, and soak in the parsley vinaigrette for at least one hour.
Prepare the avocado: using a mandoline or a 1mm slicing blade, carefully slice the avocado paper-thin. Remove the skin and pit as you slice. For easier slicing, chill the avocado in the refrigerator for one hour.
Grill the bread: heat a grill over hot coals or heat the broiler. Turn each slice once until they are nicely browned on both sides.
Assemble the toasts: drain the sardine fillets and lightly brush the toasts with the remaining vinaigrette. Pile three or four slices of avocado onto each toast, top with a portion of the sardines, and scatter scallions and a few chives on top. Serve at once.
4 to 6 servings