Whatever you want to call snack on toasts, I find it amazing that here in America, we don’t value this simple and delectable treat as much as they do in Southern Europe and Scandinavia. Of course we eat toast – mainly with butter and jam, for breakfast, or with eggs, etc, or a little cold cut of meat or cheese. And then there is the recent trend of truffle toast or avocado toast (why are these ‘trends’ when they should be no-brainers?!) but unless you are at a fancy party – there really are not crostini with yummy bits on them in our lives very often.
When I was a child, sometimes lunch (or brunch) was chipped creamed beef on toast (essentially a cured sliced beef in milk gravy – nicknamed S.O.S. ‘s*@t on a shingle’) or an even cheaper version with cream of mushroom soup (sometimes with green beans) on toast. Both I liked very much.
But we are about to begin the Summer feasting! Which entails so many fresh offerings, it seems a shame to neglect our toasts as a perfect vehicle to get all that Summer into us. As soon as Heirloom Tomato season hits, I highly recommend firing up the outside pit/grill/campfire. Then chop those fresh tomatoes right up into a coarse but juicy mess, rip bits of basil into them, sprinkle with a nice amount of Maldon salt and a little coarse ground fresh pepper, and a healthy glug of really good olive oil (the Fiore lady is always at our Farmer’s Market; I’m so spoiled) and let sit while you half a couple of big garlic cloves, and toast some nice slices of delicious bread over the open fire with a pair of tongs – you don’t want them blackened or on fire (this isn’t your guilty-pleasure marshmallow trick! though you could lay them on the grill – grill marks are sexy too), just toasted to your desire on both sides. Then, while warm, rub a cut side of a garlic half on one side of your toast, then top with the bruschetta tomato mixture, and eat. Then do it again. Share with a friend (or don’t).
I’m a big tapenade fan, too, though we don’t grow much of the ingredients here I still make my own by coarsely grinding up cured olives, artichokes, capers, maybe a little red pepper (or roasted red pepper) – with olive oil and fresh oregano. To really take it to the next level, use fresh rosemary instead of the oregano, and add coarsely pulverized dried figs. Separately (but nearby, they go together nicely) whip a little local goat cheese with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of Maldon salt/fresh ground pepper. Then after you toast the bread and rub with garlic, spread a little whipped goat cheese on, then top with a little of the fig tapenade – AMAZING! I kid you not.
But I can’t think of any reason why these little toasts wouldn’t be good with a coarse ground Jardiniere (which we make and sell! I also make it into a Muffuletta mix…more on that another day), or even oily cured fish (Wild Planet makes some yummy options like Yellowtail and Mackerel along with the classics of Anchovy and Sardine…) or fresh ricotta (someday we can sell it again, until then – make your own or come visit!). But I am adventurous enough to just eat shredded carrot sauteed in bits of bacon on toast or grilled peaches with goat cheese and fresh thyme, endless toast options.
I find these toasts work great for older or slightly stale bread – they can be toasted in the oven, too, or even prebrushed with olive oil and roasted a bit, or fresh out of the toaster and snacked upon. And now I’m thinking, well – what if I just spread a little Nutella on my toast with that guilty-pleasure toasted marshmallow?! What are your favorite toast options?