The Smash is a sandwich on a mission

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The Smash

The smash, a pumpkin seed and feta cheese spread. (Bill Hogan, Chicago Tribune / July 2, 2014)

Reverse engineering sounds all spy-versus-spy. So when my handlers passed along a tip about The Smash, I understood my mission: dismantle, decode, rebuild. Even though I'd never met the sandwich face to open face.

I was intrigued by avocado on toast, for breakfast. I knew afternoon avocado, lounging in guacamole, and evening avocado, hustling through gazpacho. I'd noticed midmorning avocado, keeping company with huevos rancheros.

But I'd never stumbled on avocado for breakfast.

I was out of the loop. Apparently avocado toast is rampant in Australia, common in California, and spreading.

Instagram captures it radish-dotted, bacon-flecked, egg-topped and lox-loaded.

I stuck to my mission: Deconstruct The Smash from Little Collins, the New York cafe homesick for Melbourne. I met with my source (my husband), studied documents (the website) and shook down my contact (owner Leon Unglik). I came up with a recipe that might not count as 100 percent accurate. But it makes a fine start to any spy's day.

The Smash

Prep: 15 minutes, plus 24-hour wait

Serves: 4

2 ounces

crumbled feta

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small clove garlic, finely chopped

Crushed red pepper flakes

¼ cup shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

2 ripe avocados

Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lime

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

4 thick slices multigrain or whole-wheat bread

Flaky salt, such as Maldon

¼ cup mixed chopped fresh mint, cilantro and parsley

1. Marinate: Toss together feta, olive oil, garlic and ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes. Cover and chill 24hours.

2. Toast: Toss pumpkin seeds into a dry cast-iron skillet. Set over medium heat and toast, stirring now and then, until seeds pop, turn brown and give off a nutty scent, about 7 minutes. Let cool.

3. Mash: Scoop feta out of its marinade; mash with a fork. Drop in avocado, pour in juice, sprinkle with kosher salt and mash with a fork, leaving some chunks.

4. Pile: Toast bread. Slather each slice with a quarter of the avocado mixture. Shake on red pepper flakes, generously. Season with flaky salt. Scatter each open-faced sandwich with 1tablespoon herbs and 1 tablespoon pepitas. Munch.

Provenance: Loosely based on The Smash from Little Collins in New York.

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