20 things I love to put on toast

toast
© zarzamora

It's true that avocado toast may be perfection, but variety is the spice of life.

Having grown up in southern California, we were eating avocado toast long before it became Avocado Toast – and even though I have been eating it for most of my life, I never get tired of it. That said, toast is really one of the world's gifts to living, so why stop with avocado?

Toast is a blank canvas begging for adornment with delicious things. Topped toast delivers the comfort of a sandwich, with half the bread; the delight of crostini but more substantial; the variety of tea sandwiches but with an edge.

I started thinking about all the toasts I have made and loved, and really there are just endless combinations – much of it predicated by what's in season or what needs to be used up before going south, as they say. Following are just some of my go-to toast toppers. (Can you tell that my family and I really like toast?)

Avocado

Because plain avocado toast is my toast true love. We get a beautiful whole grain sourdough rye that plays perfectly with the nutty, creamy avocado. Topped with flake sea salt and black pepper. Simple and perfect.

Avocado, blood orange, slivered fresh jalapeno

There are a million things to put on top of avocado toast – after fresh summer tomatoes, this combination is my favorite. Creamy, sweet, bright, and spicy.

Tomatoes, olive oil, sea salt

When gorgeous local tomatoes are at their peak, there are few things better than slapping slices on toast; if there is a nice fruit olive oil, sea salt and even a basil leaf or two, all the better.

Hummus, sliced beets, mint

Because hummus and toast are already a match made in heaven; adding sweet earthy beets is just extra pretty and delicious. Fresh mint makes it all sublime.

Mashed white beans, olive oil, thyme

I often have beans leftover after dinner; mashing them onto toast the next day makes for a hearty, tasty lunch.

Goat cheese, roasted grapes

Because once I started roasting whole grapes, I had to start putting them on everything. (See 8 fruits and vegetables you should be roasting whole for more.)

Peanut butter, banana, candied nuts

I often caramelize nuts with maple syrup and cayenne pepper to use in salads and some desserts, so why not on toast with peanut butter and banana?

Anchovy (or miso) butter, roasted peppers, fresh oregano

For the omnivores and pescatarians, mash an anchovy with softened butter; for the vegetarians and vegans, mash miso paste with your go-to buttery spread. Cover toast with it, top with roasted peppers and thyme. This is a combination that brings me to happy tears every time.

Cream cheese, cucumber, dill

A classic combination, especially great with cucumbers piles high and a huge mess of dill.

Ricotta, figs, honey

This one is for fig fans – and everyone is a fig fan, right? The mix of cool creamy ricotta and plump juicy figs with a hint of honey makes for a wonderful, desserty breakfast.

Pureed green peas, sea salt, mint

I love making green pea and mint pesto; it's very simple but so substantial and super bright in flavor. This is kind of a take on that, just on toast. Kelly has made a similar dish; recipe here: Pea pesto crostini.

Butter, sliced radishes

Butter and radishes love each other – plopped on toast gives the pair an added dimension.

Labneh, persimmon, pomegranate

The gorgeous Middle Eastern yogurt cheese known as labneh is one of my favorite toast toppers. It is so simple to make: Strain greek yogurt in a cheesecloth-lined colander over a bowl, in the fridge, for 12 to 24 hours. I confess I have never had it with persimmon and pomegranate seeds, but the photo above has inspired me to make the combination soon, and I am sure that I will love it.

Labneh, sliced pear, nuts

That said, I have put labneh on toast with sliced pears and slivered almonds – and I know that I love it.

Mashed chickpeas, celery, lemon

We make a faux tuna salad at home (we annoyingly call it tuno salad), the recipe for which you can see here: 20 things to do with chickpeas. It is great on toast, but you can also just mash chickpeas and top with celery and lemon (juice and/or zest) for a refreshing alternative to the classic tuna.

Ricotta, grilled or broiled plums

Plums are basically already perfect, but giving them a little heat and char brings them to another level. And then pairing them with ricotta, and then putting it on toast – it's like, stratosphere stuff.

Mashed tofu with curry powder, sliced apple, raisins

This is a take on curried egg salad and perfect for the salty-spicy-sweet people. (Writer raises hand.)

Mascarpone, roasted winter squash, pumpkin seeds

If you should be so lucky as to have leftover roasted butternut squash (or any of its cousins), and say, some leftover mascarpone cheese, and maybe some pumpkin seeds on hand ... you can make pumpkin pie-ish toast and it will make you happy.

Butter, pickles

Is that weird? I don't know; but I am an unabashed pickle freak and together with butter on toasted bread is one of life's strange pleasures. Should I be admitting this publicly?

The kitchen sink

This is just a prompt and a reference to all the times I have piled random things on toast. The formula goes like this: A nice piece of toast, a base of something smooth and/or smashed, a layer of something that offer contrast, a piquant or fragrant garnish. Olive oil and flake sea salt almost never hurt for savory toasts; a little drizzle of honey or maple syrup brighten up sweeter combinations.

So there you have it, go forth and toast! Be adventurous, have fun ... and if all else fails, grab an avocado.

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