California Avocado and Heirloom Tomato Tartare

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 California Avocado and Heirloom Tomato Tartare

A classic tartare is one of the most recognized and celebrated seafood dishes due to its unlimited variations. This vegetarian recipe tests the imagination of the classic dish, while combining the boundless versatility of California Avocados.


Serves: 4
cup  canola oil
3/4  cup  wild rice
    salt, to taste
  ripe, Fresh California Avocado, halved and seeded
lb.  applewood chips, soaked
1/2  cup  honey
  tomatoes, heirloom, sliced lengthwise
1/2  cup  soy sauce
1/2  cup  ponzu sauce
Tbsp.  lemon juice
    Cilantro Cream, (see make-ahead recipe below)
    Cilantro Cream Ingredients:
1/2  cup  orange juice
  clove garlic, minced
1/2    serrano chile, destemmed
1/4  cup  cilantro, chopped
1/2  cup  heavy cream
    Salt, to taste
    Pepper, to taste

As with all fruits and vegetables, wash avocados before cutting. Check out our tips for how to choose and use California Avocados


  1. In a sauté pan, heat canola oil on high and add wild rice until it puffs (similar to popcorn).
  2. Season the wild rice with salt, drain on paper towels and set aside.
  3. Place the avocados in a smoker* with drained applewood chips.
  4. At the same time, place a shallow bowl of honey in the smoker with the avocados.
  5. Let the smoker sit at 300°F for 30 minutes.
  6. Remove the honey and avocados from the smoker.
  7. Place the avocados on a large plate, hollow side facing up and allow to cool for five minutes.
  8. Quarter and peel the avocados. Then, slice the avocados lengthwise.
  9. Place the tomatoes, soy sauce, ponzu sauce, salt and lemon juice in a bowl to coat.
  10. Use a skimmer or slotted spatula to remove tomatoes from marinade and stack the coated tomatoes on a plate, slightly fanning the slices. Reserve marinade for another use (refrigerated), if desired.
  11. On the same plate, stack the avocados on top of the tomatoes, slightly fanning the slices so that the tomatoes also show.
  12. Spoon a small amount of the Cilantro Cream over the tomato and avocado slices.
  13. Lightly drizzle the smoked honey over the dish and top with a spoonful of wild rice.


Cilantro Cream Instructions:

  1. In a medium sauté pan, heat orange juice and garlic on medium heat, until garlic is soft and the orange juice has a thick texture.
  2. Add mixture along with Serrano chile, cilantro, heavy cream, salt and pepper into a blender and blend until it is pureed.
  3. Quickly remove the mixture to allow rapid cooling and refrigerate until use.


*If you don’t have a smoker, you can smoke the California Avocados and honey on a gas or charcoal grill using a smoker box.

Gas Grill: Set burner on one side of the grill to medium high and one side on low so you have a hot and cool side. Place a smoker box, full of applewood chips, on hot side and avocados on cool side. Close grill and let cook at 300°F for 30 minutes.

Charcoal Grill: Place coal on one side, so you have a hot and cool side. When coals are ready, add soaked applewood chips on top of coals and set the avocados on the cool side. Cover and cook at 300°F for 30 minutes

Serving Suggestion: By simply doubling or tripling this recipe, you can pass this refreshing appetizer amongst friends and family for any summer gathering. 

Beverage Pairing: Because there are so many flavor profiles found within this unique dish, we recommend pairing with a bright Pinot Grigio to help contrast the avocados’ smokiness combined with the herbed Cilantro Cream.

**Large avocados are recommended for this recipe. A large avocado averages about 8 ounces. If using smaller or larger size avocados adjust the quantity accordingly.

Chef Phillip Frankland Lee

Chef Phillip Frankland Lee began his career as a dishwasher at 18 and quickly rose from the ranks working under some of the best chefs in the country. He became a SousChef at 21, an ExecutiveChef at 24, and a chef and owner at 25 when he opened his first solo restaurant. He currently owns Scratch|Bar and Kitchen in Encino, which was founded on the principles of preparing food the way it was meant to be – from scratch. Phillip and his restaurants have been featured on Zagat’s “30 Under 30” lists and he was also named as one of the “Best YoungChefs in America” by San Pellegrino. No stranger to television, Phillip has appeared and won several cooking competitions including “Chopped,” “Guy’s Grocery Games” and “Cutthroat Kitchen.” Phillip aims to take elite fine dining and make it more approachable, affordable, accessible, fun and nutritious.

Chef Phillip Franklin Lee is a brand advocate. Their content on the California Avocado Commission website and/or blog is part of their partnership with our organization.

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