A couple of weeks ago, we went to Ojai with some friends. These are the only friends we see since the quarantine, and generally we go to each other’s houses and cook or get takeout. Indoor dining has been closed for nearly year now with only a small break in between. The governor allowed limited indoor dining briefly but took it away just as quickly. Since it was a beautiful day we decided to take a Sunday trip somewhere besides our homes.
Ojai is beautiful and scenic and filled with cute shops and pretty parks. After a long time of walking (with our masks, of course) we stopped to get takeout food. We ended up at a trendy, cool place called The Nest. We stood in line for a bit before we realized we could order online. If you go there, order online and wait for food. The line is long and moves slowly. We brought our food to the park down the street.
Being a vegetarian surrounded by carnivores, I don’t always get the best food options out, but this place was FANTASTIC. There were so many choices on the menu for meat eaters and plant eaters that I couldn’t wait to try something. I decided on Avocado Polenta Toast. The website lists the ingredients as: jalapeño polenta toast, smashed avocado, kale, quinoa, crispy chickpeas, pepitas, hemp seeds, pomegranate seeds + almond garlic dressing. It was one of the best things I’ve eaten in years so I set out to replicate it at home but with ingredients that were handy, and in an appetizer, finger food format. Basically I changed all the ingredients so think of their menu item as inspiration for what I made. You can change any ingredients to taste more like theirs, or to your liking, but mine is a simple, quick recipe that was devoured in minutes, both times I made it. I have no doubt The Nest is making things from scratch, but I prefer easy and “Semi-homemade” wherever possible.
Without further ado, here is the recipe.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. I used my convection setting. If you use Bake, it may take a minute or two longer.
I got several of these ingredients at the Grocery Outlet Bargain Market. I can’t say enough good things about that store.
-One box Jiffy Cornbread Mix
-Spring mix or any greens, You only need about 1/4 of a cup. Cut them in pieces with scissors or a knife.
-One large or a couple of smaller avocados, softened
Package of guacamole mix. Split in half. I used this brand but any basic one will do.
Lemon Juice. I use the bottle as it’s easier.
One egg and 1/3 cup milk per the Jiffy cornbread instructions. I used coconut milk because real milk makes me sneeze.
Make the cornbread as instructed, just the mix, one egg, and 1/3 cup milk. Mix together and add half a package of the guacamole mix. Spray a cookie sheet (I use a liner) and spread out to about 1/2 thick. Based at for 10 minutes or until the center bounces back when you touch it.
When they’re done and cooled, use a circle cookie cutter (I used a wine glass) to make as many circles as you can. Set them aside for later.
Mashed up the avocados and add a little lemon juice to keep from turning brown. Refrigerate until you need this.
Snip up the greens and mix in a small bowl with pumpkin seeds (and anything else that appeals to you). Set aside.
Preheat the over to 400 again. These are best warm so do the step two part of the cooking shortly before you plan to eat them. They’re fine room temperature for a party or gathering but warm, straight from the oven are best.
Spray the cooked circles with cooking spray. I used Olive Oil spray, and sprinkle generously with ground sage. Cook for five minutes until they are crisp at the edges and get golden brown.
Spoon the avocado/guacamole mixture on top of each one, add another few drops of lemon juice, and top with the greens and seeds. Delicious!