I have never met a saturated fat I didn’t love. European butter, buttercream frosting, cream in my coffee — I revel in rich foods that taste as comforting as a hug. But unless you’re living under a rock with your triple cream Brie (no judgment, I’ve been there), you know that the American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fats to keep our tickers happy and healthy.
Fortunately, fans of luxurious flavors need not despair, because foods packed with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, aka the “good fats,” indulge us and help lower our bad cholesterol. So, as part of my healthy eating plan, I’m cutting back on the sat fat and choosing more LDL-fighting superheroes, like avocado. Now some people avoid avocados because they have a reputation for being calorie-dense. Fortunately, a little avocado goes a long way; in the following recipe, a single avocado stretches across four yummy servings.
Thanks to avocado toast, the avocado is currently experiencing celebrity-level trendiness. Avocado toast is made by mixing avocado, olive oil, lemon or lime juice and seasonings, then mashing the whole shebang onto a thick slab of crusty bread. It’s delicious, but somewhat lacking in versatility. We have so many more options, though, when we move on from avocado toast to avocado tostadas.
Making crunchy, heart-healthy tostadas is easy. Simply place your tortillas directly on the rack of a hot oven for a few minutes; no deep-frying necessary. The kind of tortilla is completely up to you. My family likes the neutral flavor of white flour tortillas, but corn tortillas are lower in calories and sodium. There are even gluten-free tortillas if that’s your need or preference. For this recipe, I chose whole-wheat flour tortillas, which contain a little more fiber and protein than the white flour version, but are more chewy than corn tortillas, even when baked.
Your avocado tostada will taste only as good as the avocado you choose. Skip the ones that are cracked, dented or mushy. Instead, look for an avocado that barely gives under the pressure of a gentle squeeze. If rock-hard avocados are your only option in the store, let them ripen on the counter until they are slightly soft. Once your avocados are perfectly ripe, store them in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook. You probably know that the trick to removing an avocado pit is to whack it with a knife, and then twist the knife to loosen the pit. It goes without saying, but let’s say it anyway: Place the avocado flat on a work surface. If you hold it in your hand during the knife whacking, your avocado adventure may be cruelly interrupted by a trip to urgent care.
I scooped out the avocado flesh, mixed it with lime juice and salt, and spread it on top of the whole-wheat tostada. The velvety avocado contrasted beautifully with the crunchy-edged tostada. You can stop right here and be a very happy eater. But if you have just a few more minutes and ingredients, jazz up your tostada with a sweet salsa. I started with fresh pineapple, although canned pineapple (packed in juice, not sugar) works just as well. Fresh jicama is a sweet, crunchy tuber that pairs with citrus flavors like magic. Bright cilantro, honey, a bit of red onion and fiery red pepper flakes round out the flavors. Bonus: You can double the salsa and pair it with other rich foods, like the triple cream Brie stashed under your rock.
These easy tostadas offer almost infinite possibilities. Need a little more protein in your meal? Top them with grilled tilapia, or add a layer of black bean dip under the avocado spread. Tired of the same old breakfast? Top your avocado tostada with an egg and pinch of smoked salt. Want it to look even prettier? Finish your tostada with a flurry of cotija cheese. Avocado tostadas keep up with any healthy appetite, without sacrificing a healthy body.
Avocado Tostadas with Pineapple-Jicama Salsa
1/2 cup (3 ounces) diced fresh pineapple
1/2 cup (3 ounces) fresh jicama, cut into matchsticks
2 tablespoons diced red onion
2 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice, divided
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
4 (6-inch) whole-wheat flour tortillas
1 (9-ounce) avocado
1/4 teaspoon salt
Additional red pepper flakes and cilantro for garnish (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the pineapple, jicama, red onion, 2 teaspoons lime juice, honey, red pepper flakes and cilantro in a nonreactive bowl. Set aside.
Bake tortillas directly on the oven rack for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the edges are browned and crisp.
While the tortillas heat, remove the pit from the avocado and spoon the flesh into a small bowl. Add 1/2 teaspoon lime juice and table salt. Cream the avocado with a fork or potato masher.
Spread 2 tablespoons of the avocado mixture on each warm tortilla. Divide the pineapple-jicama salsa evenly among the plates. Garnish with cilantro and red pepper flakes if desired. Serve warm. Makes 4 servings.
Per serving: 249 calories (percent of calories from fat, 34), 5 grams protein, 38 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fiber, 10 grams fat (2 grams saturated), no cholesterol, 520 milligrams sodium.
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