Avocado and Ricotta Tartine with Preserved Lemon

 Citrusy preserved lemon cuts the richness of creamy avocado and ricotta cheese in this avocado and ricotta tartine. Perfect for breakfast and a light lunch paired with a salad. 
Avocado and Ricotta Tartine

For me, an avocado sandwich is a comfort food that reminds me of childhood. Weird, I know, but don't be too concerned for my sanity. Macaroni and cheese, oreos and creamed spinach all fall in the same category.  

My love affair with the avocado sandwich began in middle school, when I decided to become a "vegetarian" for a couple years. I wasn't a very healthy vegetarian, and actually, I wasn't even a real vegetarian since I snuck bites leftover chicken at night. But while I was in this phase, I developed a bit of an obsession with the avocado sandwich at Atlanta Bread Company. I remember thick slices of avocado on multigrain bread with lots of crunchy sprouts, cucumber, roasted red pepper and cheese.  I ate one almost every time I went to the mall, which was pretty regularly in the decade of Clueless and Claires. 

This tartine is a grown up version of my childhood favorite.  The rich, fatty avocado and creamy sweetness of the ricotta meld together perfectly. The toasted whole grain bread adds crunch while the preserved lemon gives a bust of citrus and salt with each bite. 
Avocado and Ricotta Sandwich

AVOCADO

I just realized we have yet to discuss the fabulousness that is avocado. Unacceptable!
While avocados are technically a fruit, nutritionally, they're considered a fat. Back when low fat diets were the thing, avocados were banished in the came category as peanut butter and cheese. Luckily, we now know better.  Avocados may be high in fat, but it's the good stuff, the same monounsaturated fat you find in olive oil.
Avocado's aren't thought of as a high fiber food, but half an avocado contains 5 grams. About 1.5 grams of that is soluble fiber, the type that lowers cholesterol and promotes satiety. 
It's also the poster child for anti-inflammatory food, packed with omega 3 fats, phytosterols and antioxidants. In fact, one study found the addition of a few slices avocado to a hamburger prevented the inflammatory response and blood vessel constriction that normally occurs after eating an avocado-less burger. So now I feel a little less guilty about my weakness for this place, since guac is always my topper of choice! 
Avocado may also be a cancer fighter! Studies conducted using avocado extract demonstrate an ability to kill some cancer cells. Although research should be done to determine if the avocado fruit itself has the same ability, I think this research is exciting.
From a culinary standpoint, avocados are a fun food to experiment with. The possibilities are endless - just check out my avocado board on pinterest!  Avocado can even go sweet. It's mild flavor and creamy texture makes it easy to hide avocado in things like chocolate mousse, fudgesicles, and smoothies

RICOTTA CHEESE

Ricotta is one of the more versatile cheeses to use. It's light creamy texture and mildly sweet taste is easily incorporated into a range of both sweet and savory dishes. For a quick weeknight meal, I toss ricotta spiked with fresh herbs with whole grain pasta and seasonal veggies. I even use leftover ricotta to make a quick chocolate mousse by mixing it with dark cocoa powder and a drizzle of honey. Serve it in a champagne flute, top with fresh berries and it could easily pass as a fancy dinner party dessert.
For this recipe, you could certainly buy ricotta from the grocery store, but if you can get your hands on fresh ricotta, I highly recommend it. It's texture is completely different, much less watery than the store bought stuff. For this recipe, I made my own.  It's surprisingly easy, (especially with this kit from Williams Sonoma) but there are also many recipes online using everyday ingredients. 

Preserved Lemon

Probably not an ingredient you have just hanging out in your fridge. If I hadn't received it as a gift, I wouldn't have it either. If you can't find it or you don't feel like buying something kinda expensive for one recipe (totally understandable), I've included alternatives below. But if you'd like to experiment with a new ingredient, hunt down preserved lemon or try making your own! Preserved lemons fermented in a brine of salt and lemon juice, kinda like a lemon pickle. It's commonly used as a flavoring ingredient in Moroccan and Indian cuisine. Not at all bitter with a pronounced lemon flavor without the tartness, it's delicious in couscous, tagines, and salads

 

Avocado & Ricotta Tartines
Author: Rachael Hartley, RD, LD, CDE
Serves: 4
Feel free to substitute olives or capers for the preserved lemon, which will give a similar salty kick, but definitely sprinkle a little lemon zest over the top for a hit of citrus. If you'd like to make this sandwich vegan, try tofu ricotta cheese, which is actually really, really good. Adapted from [url href="http://www.housebeautiful.com/kitchens/recipes/gabrielle-hamilton-avocado-sandwich-recipe-0712" target="_blank"]House Beautiful Magazine. [/url]
Ingredients
  • 1 cup organic, whole milk ricotta cheese
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 8 slices of 100% whole grain bread
  • 2 ripe avocados, sliced
  • 2 medium shallots, peeled and thin sliced into rings.
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
  • skin (rind) of 1 preserved lemon, finely chopped
  • flaky sea salt
Instructions
  1. Toast the bread.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the ricotta, lemon zest, olive oil and season with a few pinches of salt and black pepper.
  3. Once the bread is toasted, spread each serving with a quarter of the ricotta mixture, 2-4 tablespoons per slice depending on how many slices you're using.
  4. Divide the slices of avocado evenly among the tartines. Top each serving with a quarter of the sliced shallots and garnish with toasted sesame seeds, preserved lemon peel and flaky sea salt.

 

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