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Avocado on toast with quinoa, maize and pesto

Prep time 10 minutes
serves 2 people

Photography by Tracey Creed
Assisted by Amandine Paniagua
Recipe by Tracey Creed and Amandine Paniagua
Words by Tracey Creed

Published May 14 2019
Updated January 5 2023


Smashed avocado
1 avocado, smashed
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
12 red onion, finely sliced
1 preserved lemon, chopped
sea salt and black pepper to taste
To serve
4 slices bread, toasted
12 cup quinoa, cooked
olive oil
1 corn, cut away from the cob
aioli, we used Wise Boys


Using a small bowl, smash the avocado with the apple cider vinegar, add red onion and preserved lemon using the back of a fork. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper.

Place toast on plates, cover liberally with smashed avocado and cooked quinoa. Drizzle over with olive oil, and top with corn, pesto and aioli too if using.

An avocado on toast that won’t stop you from getting into the property market

If you want to have a good day, start it with this. It is just so good, a simple yet special breakfast, lunch, or perhaps a light dinner. And that’s the beauty of it, food for any time of the day. This avocado on toast with quinoa, maize and pesto was inspired by Three Bags Full in Melbourne, it was so good. It’s a classic there, the smashed avocado; with such demand that it has earned a permanent place on the menu. It’s more than smashed avocado on toast, it’s a perfectly acceptable meal.

We knew we wanted to recreate this dish when we got back, though we would have to wait until corn was in season. This is our interpretation. The quinoa is super refreshing, best made ahead, chilled and served with lemon, limes if you can find them. The corn is so incredibly sweet and flavorful, we get ours from our local markets, Garden For The People, it’s organically grown with love and sunshine. Being able to enjoy certain produce only certain times of the year makes it more special. When we have too much access, all of that becomes less valuable. And that’s not just food.

For me, for us, eating local produce, to live with the seasons is just part of the larger picture of living mindfully, of being present. We have become, or at least I know I have, become so acclimated to the artificially low prices at supermarkets—often at the expense of the growers, that few of us know what the real cost of food is.

Generally speaking, although it is not always ideal to speak in generalisations, the majority roaming supermarket aisles will be under the impression that our global food system provides more options, we import enough—it’s talked about in terms of convenience, despite being damaging and profoundly confusing to find citrus (amongst other things) imported from while at the same time we are exporting ours. But this is a perception, globally we are experiencing a systematic decline in seed and crop diversity as industrialised agriculture seeks to standardise global food trade. And so plants that have been developed for specific micro-climates and soil conditions over millenniums are disappearing.

This false sense of diversity offered by supermarkets, our global food economy is based on production that favours monocultures and corporate agriculture who influence our food system and manipulate our marketplace—driving down prices paid to small farmers. Conventional food systems are characterised by homogeneity and a lack of diversity, it is one that does not include wonders like purple basil, golden beetroots, purple carrots, watermelon radishes, lemon and watermelon cucumbers.

For the most part, I source produce locally, in part from supermarkets and the most beautiful 300 grams of greens weekly, my Organic Market Garden Auckland C.S.A. I live with six other people, fridge space is an issue. And so while I understand that not everyone has access to local markets, if you do, and want to support local growers—all that’s required is a perspective shift, some planning but eating closer to your values is well within reach.

And the toast, the bread. I eat a lot of bread, real bread, the kind made with patience and passion, and mostly from Daily Bread. Often I purchase Thoroughbred Seven Seeds (Vegan) which is gluten-free and E464 free and that is what I have photographed here.

And while bread is a somewhat humble food, it is one that has sustained human beings for millennia. I think as much as supporting growers, when you consider the process involved in producing food, the transformation, it is these people who are going to save biodiversity, save the foods we love and we have a responsibility to support them. Modern plant-breeding, industrialisation and advertising have seen bread endure periods of acceptance and rejection, an unfavourable public perception. Systematic adulteration of industrial bread with additives, a radically reduced fermentation period (if any) and intensive farming created a very different product, a less digestible, inferior product—the supermarket bread. All to maximise profits. Once viewed as a form of sustenance, bread became a product of mass consumption.

The slow food movement perhaps provides more meaning and understanding of what real bread, artisanal bread is. It is bread made from flour, water, yeast and salt, nothing more, appropriately fermented; it is a slow, nurtured process. Take baguettes, you need to preferment it, make the final dough, ferment that, then divide and shape the loaves, prove them then bake them. It’s a 2 to 3 day process. Ciabatta—a 3-day process. Artisanal bread takes time. It is not the kind made the day of, “freshly baked” at your local supermarket available to purchase when doors open at 6 a.m.

And then ironically, prior to photographing this recipe, we’d walked up to our local supermarket, not for bread obviously—for olive oil, and while browsing the fridges discovered new products, a vegan aioli and mayo by Wise Boys which is what we used for these photos. If you don’t have, can’t find, or don’t want to buy vegan aioli, this recipe is just as good without it. I think anyway. Pesto though, do not skip the pesto. Usually, we have a steady supply of pesto (this pesto) in the fridge since it is not always easy to find vegan pesto in supermarkets. It is becoming easier though. We are seeing the indicators that validate a tipping point. Supermarkets continue to increase the presence of vegan products on shelf, in fridges, in freezers being one. This is not a trend. It’s a new direction.

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