Olive oil, a slice of bread, and a frying pan. That’s all you need… Well, that isn’t exactly bread and butter, but one could argue that this savory toast is an even more delicious and versatile combination.
Up to this point, we’ve explored several different methods by which the home baker can make yeasted and sourdough breads using flour, water, salt, and yeast. While making your own bread is an incredibly fun and rewarding activity, eating it is just as good. In fact, the concept in this post doesn’t require any mixing, folding, or fermenting – all you need are some basic cooking skills and a loaf of bread.
To make this savory toast, heat up enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan, and then place a couple of slices of bread in the oil. After 3-4 minutes, flip them and continue to cook until a nice dark brown color has developed on the outside. I prefer a well-browned exterior with some chew in the interior for texture contrast. I’d recommend eating one plain before adding anything to it. It tastes exactly as you’d imagine bread fried in olive oil would taste – delicious.
I will show you two of my favorite combinations – toast with mashed avocado, and toast with roasted butternut squash. For this, I choose to bake two of my favorite breads – olive with Herbes de Provence and a 75% whole wheat pain au Gruyère – but any good bread will do.
- 1 avocado, mashed
- Sea salt to taste
- Hot sauce (optional)
Mash up the avocado with a pinch of salt. Add a dash or two of hot sauce, if desired. Avocado is incredibly nutritious and loaded with soluble fats that aid in the absorption of other nutrients, such as those found in sautéed chard, brussels sprouts, and shallots.
The combination of flavors in this dish are just wonderful, and if I had to choose only one dish to eat for the rest of my life, this might be it.
Butternut Squash Crostini with Gruyère
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- Sea salt and black pepper to taste
- 1 small butternut squash, cut into 1/2″ pieces
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 3 sprigs of thyme, plus 3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- Thyme sprigs
- 5 oz Gruyère, grated
For this dish, I adapted a recipe from Real Simple magazine. Preheat the oven to 450F. Mix the first 4 ingredients in a 9×13 baking dish. Add the butternut squash, onion, and Thyme and toss to coat. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 25 minutes, tossing 15 minutes in. Remove the foil and toss the mixture, then continue to bake for another 20-30 minutes. Bake until the squash is tender.
When the squash is nearly done, coat a sheet pan with olive oil. Slice your loaf of bread into 1/3″ thick slices and place on the baking sheet. Drizzle the slices with olive oil. Bake in the oven (450F) for 8-9 minutes, flipping the slices half way through. Bake them until medium-brown on both sides.
Remove the thyme sprigs from the squash mixture. Top the slices with the mixture and sprinkle with the grated Gruyère. Bake the assembled crostini for 5-7 minutes to melt the cheese.
When toasted, pain au Gruyère develops a wonderfully rich and nutty cheese flavor, which compliments the nuttiness of the butternut squash.
From here, the sky is the limit. I like to think of this toast as a foundation and vehicle for pretty much any food. Not only can you customize the flavors to top the toast, but you can also work with flavors of the bread. For example, a whole grain sourdough will provide a significantly different flavor profile compared to a white bread with poolish. If you’re looking for a versatile option, one of my favorites is the “Ode to Bourdon”, a recipe for a 50/50 white-whole wheat bread found in Tartine No. 3, Chad Robertson’s third book. The sesame-wheat variation is just sublime.
Hands down, this is my new bread and butter ·