It feels like only a few years ago that avocados were destined for guacamole bowls in Mexican restaurants or throwaway to-go-like containers at your local grocery store. Now, of course, chefs, home-cooks and everyone in-between have discovered the versatility of these green, oblong leathery skinned fruits. Even Subway and McDonalds have jumped on the avocado-train.

We’re responsible if not downright guilty of fueling the avocado-fire with our Bangin' Brunch gatherings, which just celebrated its second anniversary. Since day one we’ve featured the same avocado toast on every menu except one (our loyalists nearly rioted). In an effort to adapt we recently revised our avocado toast to feature onions instead of runny eggs. Our guests approve. Today, we’re giving you both recipes.

Both variations have the infamous killer-four-combo: salt, acid, fat and crunch. Grilled bread, an accessory for the layers above, offers crunch. The bread’s accomplice, olive oil, provides fat and flavor. Just before serving, two crucial ingredients round out the foursome: acidic balsamic and flakey sea salt. If this isn't enough, sweetness from the balsamic and onions, if onions are your poison, yield a mashup of textures and flavors that kick your tastebuds into hyperdrive.

Both recipes require grilled bread and balsamic reduction, below.

GRILLED BREAD

Photo by Kirk J Miller

Photo by Kirk J Miller

Ingredients:
- 6 1-in slices white rustic bread (we use pain rustique from La Brea Bakery)
- 1c good quality olive oil
- Finishing sea salt (we use Maldon smoked sea salt)

Fill a large lipped-plate with olive oil. Liberally soak both sides of sliced bread.

Heat a large heavy skillet or griddle pan over medium-high heat. Toast each side of bread for 2-4 minutes or until golden brown.

Lightly salt one side of each slice.

This step can be done 2-3 hours in advance.

BALSAMIC REDUCTION

Note: if you own or are willing to splurge on high-quality aged balsamic, skip this step and use it. If not, reducing balsamic is easy and inexpensive, though the smell of burning acid will permeate your kitchen for a few hours. One of life's many tradeoffs.

Ingredients:
- 1c balsamic vinegar
- 1tbs sugar

In a small saucepan heat balsamic over medium-low until simmering. Carefully monitor until it reduces by about three quarters. Stir in sugar until dissolved. Continue to reduce for 2-3 more minutes (it can burn quickly so tending to the pot is key). Remove from heat and cool. It should taste tangy and sweet and have a consistency like molasses.

This step can be done 1-2 days in advance.

FOR THE EGG VARITION:

Ingredients:
- 6 eggs
- Olive oil
- 2 large ripe avocados
- Finishing sea salt
- Fresh pepper
- 6 toasts (see above)
- Balsamic reduction (see above)

Slice avocado lengthwise and arrange in an even layer on toasts. Sprinkle generously with sea salt and pepper.

Fry eggs sunny side up in olive oil. Finish with sea salt and pepper. Gently place on top of toasts.

Lightly drizzle toast with reduced balsamic.

Photo by Ashley Maietta

Photo by Ashley Maietta

FOR ONION VARIATION:

Ingredients:
- 2 large yellow onions
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt
2 large ripe avocados
- Finishing sea salt
- Fresh pepper
- 6 toasts (see above)
- Balsamic reduction (see above)

Dice onion into 1/3in pieces. In a large heavy skillet, heat 2-3tbs olive oil over high heat until just barely smoking. Turn down to medium high and carefully toss in the onions.

Slow cook the onions until soft and tender - 30-45 minutes. The trick is to not touch the onions for the first 5 minutes, add about 1tbs kosher salt, toss, and continue to toss every 5 minutes thereafter. The weight of the onions on top will lightly press on the bottom layer, drawing their liquid and cooking them evenly. Once they're soft, translucent and sweet, they're done.

The onions can be prepared 1-2 days ahead. Store in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before using.

When you’re ready to serve, in a large bowl, roughly mash the avocado with 2-3tsp finishing sea salt and about 1-2tsp fresh pepper to taste.

Top each slice of bread with a healthy pile of onions (at least 1/4c), followed by a heaping wad of avocado. Finish with sea salt and a pinch of pepper.

Lightly drizzle toast with reduced balsamic.

Both recipes yield six toasts and a whole lot of happy.

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