The Avocado Appetizer People Will Go Crazy For

Photo: Penny De Los Santos

The Basque region of Spain is both incredibly beautiful and rich in great food, so when The Basque Book by Alexandra Raij, Eder Montero, and Rebecca Flint Marx came across our desks, we were immediately excited to take a peek.

The following recipe takes a simple avocado and turns it into a stunning starter with a few simple, high-quality ingredients. We might not be able to get paprika quite as special as the one Alexandra and Eder used, but hopefully we can capture some of the magic of this dish in our own kitchens.

Every summer when we visit the Basque country, Eder’s great aunt Mila gives us baby-food jars filled with the most extraordinary paprika from Rioja.

Made by her friend, it is fruitier than pimentón de la Vera, and the smoke is more delicate, which is why the long bus ride to pick it up is more than worth the trip.

When those jars start to run out, we get nervous. They are what make good food great at our house.

One evening, Eder halved an avocado, seasoned it with salt, and dusted it generously with the Riojan paprika. Embellished with a little sweet vinegar made from the Basque white wine vinegar Txakoli and enough olive oil to dissolve the paprika, it was a genius salad with pitch-perfect flavor.

Calculate half an avocado per person, although I guarantee you’ll end up eating both halves if you make it for yourself.

Eder's Avocado Salad

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 3 ripe Hass avocados, halved and pitted
  • 1½ to 2 tablespoons Txakoli wine vinegar, white balsamic vinegar, or seasoned rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons smoked Spanish paprika, preferably from Rioja, or 2 tablespoons sweet La Vera smoked paprika mixed with 1 tablespoon sweet Spanish paprika
  • Maldon salt
  • About ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Preparation

1. Thinly slice an avocado half and arrange the slices on an individual salad plate. Do not fan the slices; they should be close together. (You can also just peel the half and lie it cut side down on a plate.) Repeat with the remaining avocado halves.

2. Drizzle each half with about ½ teaspoon of the vinegar. Using a small fine-mesh strainer or a shaker, dust each serving with a thin layer of paprika. Season with salt, drizzle generously with the oil—you want enough oil to dissolve the paprika and give each half the appearance of a rusty car door—then serve.

Reprinted with permission from The Basque Book by Alexandra Raij with Eder Montero and Rebecca Flint Marx, copyright © 2016, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

Photographs copyright © 2016 by Penny De Los Santos

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