But when savory toppings are thrown into the mix — and creatively slathered on all manner of interesting artisan breads — toast is transformed into a square meal deal appropriate for any time of day and just about any occasion, including cocktail parties.
Some toast-masters pop their slices in a slotted toaster, while others prefer to set the oven to broil or throw it on the grill. Either way, toast is best made with day-old bread that has been evenly browned by radiant heat to the point that the natural sugars and starch molecules on the face heat up (scientifically speaking that's the Maillard reaction) to create a slightly crunchy exterior and a warm, sponge-y center.
Marion Cunningham's classic "The Breakfast Book" (1987) includes a chapter on toast, and she notes that many early American cookbooks included chapters on how to create "modest-size meals on toast" to "offer a little more nourishment and variety" to the diet.
More recently, toast has been the subject of articles in Cooking Light, Bon Appetit and the Food Network magazines. A Google search turns up from five to 351 fanciful ways to top your toast. Here are our 20 ideas.
Tasty toast toppings
- Sliced radishes, grape tomatoes and baby cucumber coins on buttered eight-grain toast
- Pimiento cheese and green onions on white toast
- Scrambled eggs and strips of Canadian bacon over pesto sprinkled with Parmesan shreds on white toast
- Ricotta and pistachios drizzled with olive oil on eight-grain toast
- Greek yogurt and fresh berries drizzled with honey on eight-grain toast
- Peanut and apple slices sprinkled with cinnamon on cinnamon-raisin toast
- Cannellini beans with sliced olives over pesto topped with shreds of basil on eight-grain toast
- Nutella and sliced pears on cinnamon-raisin toast
- Cream cheese and cranberry sauce with walnuts on wheat toast
- Fig jam, a slice of brie and ham on sourdough
- Peanut butter sprinkled with tropical trail mix on cinnamon-raisin toast
- Cream cheese and smoked salmon with dill and thin slices of red onion on rye toast
- Fork-mashed avocado mixed with crumbled bacon or shrimp on chili cheese bread toast
- Peanut butter and banana slices with flaked coconut on cinnamon-raisin toast
- Broiled cheddar cheese and tomato on San Francisco sourdough toast
- Chopped chicken with barbecue sauce on toasted ciabatta
- Shredded pork with coleslaw on challah toast
- Fig jam, ricotta and prosciutto on Italian country-style toast
- Ratatouille-style vegetables on grilled rosemary olive oil toast
- Slices of hard-boiled cooked egg on mayonnaise sprinkled with paprika on eight-grain toast
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