Monday, January 25, 2010

CSA Week 7 - Sardine & Avocado Sandwich

I've made clear before my unkind feelings about Florida avocados. Another arrived with the Week 7 CSA delivery, and when it ripened this weekend, I decided to pair it with something that many other people have equally strong feelings about: sardines. The inspiration was Alton Brown's sardine and avocado sandwich recipe featured on a recent episode of "Good Eats" (though on the Food Network website it goes by the more demure "Sherried Sardine Toasts"), which you can see more of here. Of course, I actually have Oswald Cobblepot 's fondness for silvery fish, so I had no particular aversion to the sardines, though I've always eaten them fresh rather than the ones from the tin.

The mise en place: brisling sardines packed in olive oil; a couple slices of good bread; one Florida avocado (a "Brooks Late Avocado," per the newsletter), some dill (substituting for the parsley called for in the recipe), and a lemon; off stage are sherry vinegar, pepper and coarse sea salt. I halved the recipe on the Food Network site since nobody else in the house wanted to share with me.

Here's a closeup of the little buggers. You begin to understand the expression.

You pour off the oil from the can into a mixing bowl, and add a little sherry vinegar, some chopped dill, lemon zest, and black pepper. Then toss the fish in the dressing you just made. The recipe says to let it sit and mingle for up to an hour. I had no time for that (c'mon, who thinks of making a sandwich an hour in advance?)

Halve an avocado and then mash the flesh right in its shell (a good idea from Mr. Brown); meanwhile, toast some bread, and pour some of the fish marinade over it (recipe says to do this in the converse order, which might well be a good idea). Then spread the mashed avocado across the toast, top with the fish, drizzle any remaining marinade over the top, sprinkle with coarse sea salt and a squeeze of lemon. Voila:

I'm dubious that you could lose fifty pounds by eating this, as Alton Brown says he did (in fairness, there was a good bit more to his agenda) - unless of course you hate sardines and won't eat them - but I thought it was a genuinely delicious use of both sardines and (the dreaded) Florida avocado. This particular avocado was less watery and insipid than other Florida avocados I've had. I'm still not sure whether it would stand up to being the star attraction in a dish, but as a complementary note to another strongly flavored item (i.e. the sardines) it worked well. I'm not sure whether this will make a convert of any sardine-loathers out there, but it's worth a try. And for those who need no such conversion, it's a good quick snack to add to the repertoire.


  1. It's funny you mention 'the dreaded' FL avocado. I had never tasted one until I moved here, but I love them. They are a truly amazing food... delicate and slightly nutty. They don't seem to brown as quickly as the more popular variety. Might be good with shrimp pickles also!

  2. I prefer the fattier mouthfeel and richness of a Hass avocado, but this particular one was pretty good - and, as you note, held up nicely for a second day too, getting tossed into a salad with some CSA mizuna (a nice green, by the way, spiky and frisky like dandelion greens but not as bitter), along with corn, slivered radishes and some grilled flank steak.

    At some point somebody had told me that if you don't like Florida avocados, it's just because you haven't found the right cultivar yet. So maybe I'm just a "Brook's Late Avocado" guy.