The answer is toast.

By Jenn Rice
Updated October 02, 2019
Advertisement
Credit: Hotel Bennett

Avocado toast has a reputation of being basic, but you know what? Avocado toast is satisfying and delicious, and the beloved toast is not coming off menus anytime soon. Or really, ever, unless there’s another avocado shortage. And if that day comes, rest assured there are many other toasts to fall back on that involve ingredients already in your refrigerator and lying around in the produce basket.

A newer trend on restaurant menus involves whipping up seasonally-inspired toast creations that can easily be created back on the homestead—essentially allowing chefs to utilize leftovers and random odds and ends to turn out pieces of culinary artwork. From peaches and country ham to oddball matches like pears and beets, and even Southern cheese spreads with eggs atop, these swoon-worthy bites will entertain the entire family when you don’t feel like making a trip to the grocery store before suppertime.

Here, several chefs share insight on their favorite way to toast, along with tips and tricks on turning any leftovers into magic when seeking inspiration at home.

Peach and Country Ham Toast at Haymaker
| Credit: Jenn Rice

Peach and Country Ham Toast at Haymaker Jenn Rice

Go Smørrebrød Style

Chef Patrick Cowden recently opened Farmhouse Cafe in Wendell, North Carolina, featuring a glass casing of smørrebrød. "If you’re familiar with a tartine, the smørrebrød is a Danish take on this concept,” says Cowden—and quite frankly, a perfect way to do toast. It goes like this: Pick a thick Danish-style rye bread, a spreadable fat (like butter or mayonnaise that acts as a food glue and laminate, keeping the bread from becoming soggy) and pile various protein and/or vegetables atop. “Smorrebrods can be as simply as ham, Swiss and arugula, but typically, since it is Scandinavian, you might also see a lot of smoked fish,” he says. Really, anything goes. Cowden recommends playing around with flavor profiles, as he does with his Boulted Bread grits loaf bread topped with pickled okra remoulade, andouille sausage hash, tender collards slaw, lemon poached Carteret County Shrimp, and a drizzle of red eye gravy syrup. “Basically a riff on shrimp and grits,” he notes, of his favorite meal.

Never Let Your Favorite Ingredients Go to Waste

“I’m all about reducing my food waste at home and in the professional kitchen at work,” says chef William Dissen of Haymaker. A beautiful, bright toast at his restaurant is slathered with lemon ricotta and topped with charred peaches, crispy Benton’s Country Ham and basil. “At home you could griddle or toast any bread you have in the pantry until it’s nice and golden on one side, and in place of the homemade ricotta, you could take some cream cheese and whip it until it’s nice and smooth with a little lemon juice and salt, and then top it off with thinly sliced peaches or plums or pitted cherries,” Dissen says. In place of Benton’s Country Ham, in case you don’t live in the South and keep it religiously stocked, cooked bacon will suffice. “Any way you try it you’re going to have a great end product when you start with great ingredients — great food starts fresh.”

Suppertime Leftovers = Inspiration

Familytime meals often involve heaps of leftovers. And clearly, we’ve learned the best trick ever: leftovers of all sorts make for unique toast inventions. Chef Jacob Sessoms, heading up the kitchen at Wicked Weed Brewing’s newest dining concept, Cultura, suggests scanning the fridge before buying specifics. Toast, tartine, or bruschetta makes for the perfect vehicle for leftovers. “If you have a protein, an herb/green/vegetable and a sauce you are ready to go,” he says. Toast and butter a baguette, melt your cheese of choice on top, and warm up and slice leftover steak. “Toss the steak with herbs or greens and build on top of the toast,” he notes. Finish with salt and pepper, a good olive oil, lemon juice and maybe a drizzle of a creamy dressing like Green Goddess.

Remember, Opposites Attract

“This is 100% the kind of thing I would come up with in my home kitchen,” says chef Christian Hunter, of his beet and pear toast at Sorghum & Salt. Creative thinking led Hunter to the idea of turning restaurant leftovers and seasonal fruit into a delicious, edible creation. Think housemade sourdough bread perfectly buttered and grilled, a layer of fresh, spreadable cheese (like fromage frais), poached beets, pears, a drizzle of honey, and salt and pepper. “It's simple, delicious, and eliminates waste, which is one of my favorite things,” Hunter adds. Don’t be afraid to play around with interesting combinations that may seem like an oddball pairing. After all, watermelon, tomatoes and feta cheese are quite the satisfying situation. It all boils down to the balancing act of sweet, salty and acidic.

WATCH: How to Make Cherry Tomato Confit

Tomato Toast is Always a Good Idea

At Fin & Fino, chef Scott Hollingsworth buys roughly 150 to 200 pounds of tomatoes from local farmers per week during peak tomato harvest. Case in point, tomato toast is always a good idea, especially when craving a quick and easy snack. “Our tomato toast is all about freshness, quality, and complementary textures of the few ingredients,” Hollingsworth says, as is good bread. He uses sourdough at Fin & Fino, noting the “crunch and toastiness of the bread is crucial against the sweet softness of the tomato.” On his simple tomato toast, ricotta acts as a bridge between the toast and tomato, but most importantly, offers a slight saltiness and tang. Regardless of what else is added, when it comes to a great tomato toast, the tomato should be star, so seek heirloom slicing tomatoes if possible. Because “overripe is way, way better than under ripe,” according to Hollingsworth, toast is a great way to utilize not-so-glamorous looking tomatoes in the kitchen that are extra juicy. Top off with sea salt and an aged sherry vinegar and be prepared to be wowed. “This toast has actually been a standard at home for my wife and I for a while, so we're glad it's been received well at the restaurant.”

Turn to Whatever Spreads Are In the Fridge

Spreads and dips are an easy solution to turn a basic piece of toast into a culinary delight. Plus, if any tubs in the fridge are almost empty, it’s a great way to use every last drop. Chef Michael Sichel of Hotel Bennet turns to Southern spreads for inspiration. A few of his favorites include fresh ricotta cheese with tomato Concasse (or chopped/crushed tomatoes), extra virgin olive oil and sliced boiled egg; foie gras mousse and pimento cheese (which will be available on the menu at Gabrielle bar in October); and a smoked pepper ham spread. Add whatever herbs and vegetables are lying around for extra crunch and vibrancy. These types of toasts are also a great idea for entertaining spreads and can be cut up into smaller, two-bite pieces.

Hungry for more? Try one of our favorite toast recipes below. 50 Genius Ways to Top Toast

Image zoom Avo-Tahini Toast Avo-Tahini Toast Recipe

If you think you're over avocado toast, this topper will change your mind. Make sure to give your tahini a good stir before drizzling. These make for a filling snack, plus they're loaded with protein to help you stay fuller for longer. Photo: Iain Bagwell; Styling: Claire Spollen

Image zoom Cucumber-Lox Toast Cucumber-Lox Toast Recipe

The loaded deli bagel works perfectly as an instant toast topper. Greek yogurt has the same tang and richness as cream cheese, and you don't have to wait for it to soften. Sprinkle with additional chives for more punch. Photo: Iain Bagwell; Styling: Claire Spollen

Image zoom Cashew-Carrot Toast Cashew-Carrot Toast Recipe

Instead of a PB&J, try a CB&C: smooth cashew butter, bacon, and a bright, crisp-tender carrot salad on top. The perfect savory treat topped with crunchy veggies and crispy bacon. If you have a nut allergy, substitute seed butter or hummus. Make your own cashew butter, or buy it at your local grocery store. Photo: Iain Bagwell; Styling: Paige Hicks

Image zoom Pear-Prosciutto Toast Pear-Prosciutto Toast Recipe

We fancified the classic ham and cheese sammy with prosciutto, Swiss, and pear. Fig preserves provide the can't-quite-place-it sweetness that elevates this toast; you can sub 1/2 teaspoon honey. Photo: Iain Bagwell; Styling: Claire Spollen

Image zoom Baked Egg-in-a-Hole Baked Egg-in-a-Hole Recipe
These bacon-and-egg toasts make for a fun breakfast or easy dinner. Photo: Johnny Autry; Styling: Cindy Barr

Image zoom Roasted Apple-Honey Toast Roasted Apple-Honey Toast Recipe
Honey toast is not unfamiliar to folks from Tokyo-metro, Taipei, Singapore, or Bangkok. Really, it's genius. And simple. And able to be interpreted to your heart's content. As many ways as one can craft a sandwich, one can hook up some honey toast. Classically, it's a big fluffy slab of Pullman-type bread, with more than a little butter and a generous amount of honey. Here, the toast is dredged in a sugar to give it an irresistible crisp-meets-sticky exterior. Photo: Oxmoor House

Image zoom Mustard Green Pesto and Egg Open-Faced Sandwiches Mustard Green Pesto and Egg Open-Faced Sandwiches Recipe

Any extra pesto will keep refrigerated for 4 days and frozen for up to a month. Photo: Jennifer Causey; Styling: Amy Stone

Image zoom Veggie Eggy Scramble Veggie Eggy Scramble Recipe
We like the idea of incorporating veggies into the morning meal, and it's not hard or time-consuming to do. To make it a grab-and-go dish, stuff the scramble into a whole-wheat pita. Photo: Jennifer Causey; Styling: Claire Spollen

Image zoom Smashed Avocado on Toast Smashed Avocado on Toast Recipe
Smashed Avocado on Toast is a great snack before a run or workout. With the perfect combination of healthy fats and carbohydrates, this snack will keep your body energized without weighing you down. Photo: Grant Cornett; Styling: Alistair Turnbull

Image zoom Garlic-Parmesan Toasts Garlic-Parmesan Toasts Recipe

Everyone needs a quick and easy garlic toast recipe to serve with hearty pasta entrees. This four ingredient recipe is warm, cheesy and perfect for busy weeknights. Photo: Randy Mayor; Styling: Lindsey Lower

Image zoom Saucy Shrimp Sauté on Toast Saucy Shrimp Sauté on Toast Recipe
Check around for the best prices on shrimp: Sometimes, it's at the seafood counter; other times, it's in the freezer case. The garlic that's rubbed on the toast at the end lends lots of punch. Photo: Jennifer Causey; Styling: Lindsey Lower

Image zoom Ricotta, Pear and Almond Toast Ricotta, Pear and Almond Toast Recipe
What makes this recipe great: Ricotta has more protein and less saturated fat than cream cheese. Photo: Ryan Benyi; Styling: Gerri Williams for James Reps

Image zoom Pimento Cheese Toast Pimento Cheese Toast Recipe
This toast is extremely cheesy and creamy with a little kick. Serve for breakfast, lunch or as an anytime snack. We can't get enough! Photo: Yaso + Junko

Image zoom Country-Ham-and-Egg Toasts Country-Ham-and-Egg Toasts Recipe
Try a Southern take on the French tartine with country ham, green onions, and hard-cooked eggs. Photo: Greg Dupree; Styling: Caroline M. Cunningham

Image zoom Herbed Onion Parmesan Toasts Herbed Onion Parmesan Toasts Recipe
Perfect for a quick snack—spread a simple mixture of mayonnaise, Parmesan, and green onions over a baguette and broil to perfection. Photo: Aya Brackett; Styling: Emma Star Jensen

Image zoom Toasts with Ricotta and Warm Balsamic-Caramel Apples Toasts with Ricotta and Warm Balsamic-Caramel Apples Recipe
One bite of quick-cooking balsamic-caramel apples and you'll wonder why you never thought of it yourself. Photo: Antonis Achilleos

Image zoom Green Garlic Prosciutto Toasts Green Garlic Prosciutto Toasts Recipe

Serve these robustly flavored open-face sandwiches as a light dinner with a big salad, or as appetizers, using small slices of baguette. Photo: Iain Bagwell

Image zoom Multigrain Toast and Red Pepper Tapenade Multigrain Toast and Red Pepper Tapenade Recipe
Olives, red bell peppers and garlic blended in a food processor is a savory, bright combination to serve over multigrain toast. Photo: Randy Mayor; Styling: Claire Spollen

Image zoom Cabbage-and-Mushroom Toasts Cabbage-and-Mushroom Toasts Recipe
You'll need a knife and fork for these hearty, luscious toasts from chef Steven Satterfield. The cabbage topping would also be delicious as a side dish for roast pork. Photo: John Kernick

Image zoom BLT Bruschetta BLT Bruschetta Recipe
Watch these mini, open-faced BLTs disappear at your next party. If you're doubling or tripling the recipe, you can set out the toppings and the grilled toasts brushed with olive oil to let your guests build their own. Photo: Jeffrey Cross; Food Styling: Karen Shinto

Image zoom Curried Spaghetti-Squash-and-Chickpea Toasts Curried Spaghetti-Squash-and-Chickpea Toasts Recipe

Spaghetti squash gets its name because once it's cooked, you can use a fork to pull the flesh into long, thin strands. Jonathon Sawyer makes his own curry and cooks his own chickpeas for this vegetarian dish, but this simplified recipe calls for store-bought curry paste and canned chickpeas. Sawyer roasts the seeds from the squash and uses them as a garnish; pumpkin seeds from the supermarket are a fine substitute. Photo: David Malosh

Image zoom Tartines with Cheese, Peppers, and Chard Tartines with Cheese, Peppers, and Chard Recipe
A tartine is an open-faced sandwich. This recipe demands a hearty bread (one topped with seeds and intact grains adds a nutrition bonus); it's the best match for the herbed cheese topping. Photo: Photo: Randy Mayor

Image zoom Glazed-Beet-and-Burrata Toasts Glazed-Beet-and-Burrata Toasts Recipe
To intensify the flavor of boiled beets and form a rich glaze, cook them a second time in sherry vinegar and sugar before topping the toast. Photo: Antonis Achilleos

Image zoom Garlicky Beans on Toast Garlicky Beans on Toast Recipe
Garlicky Beans on Toast takes the hot, crunchy breakfast stand-by to a new level. Mornings have never had it so good! Photo: Kang Kim; Styling: Tiziana Agnello

Image zoom Ricotta-Pistachio Toast Ricotta-Pistachio Toast Recipe
Keep weekday mornings interesting with Ricotta-Pistachio Toast for breakfast. Photo: Kang Kim; Styling: Tiziana Agnello

Image zoom Edamame and Shrimp Bruschetta Edamame and Shrimp Bruschetta Recipe

Give bruschetta a little kick by topping with pureed edamame and shrimp tossed in lemon zest. Photo: Iain Bagwell; Styling: Victoria Cox

Image zoom Ham and Cheese Tartine Ham and Cheese Tartine Recipe
This lean snack of Ham and Cheese Tartine satisfies your craving for something savory. Pick pumpernickel bread as the base for this snack as it has resistant starch, a fat-burning carb. Photo: Travis Rathbone

Image zoom Pear, Brie, and Balsamic Bruschetta Pear, Brie, and Balsamic Bruschetta Recipe

This bruschetta is both sweet, with pear slices and honey, and savory because of the Brie cheese and balsamic drizzle. Photo: Randy Mayor; Styling: Lindsey Lower

Image zoom Strawberry Bruschetta Strawberry Bruschetta Recipe
Usher in the warm days of spring and summer with Strawberry Bruschetta. This refreshing mixture of nectarine, grape tomatoes, strawberries, and basil are served over baguette slices with slatherings of goat cheese. Photo: Iain Bagwell; Styling: Heather Chadduck and Caroline Cunningham

Image zoom Pear Chutney Bruschetta with Pecans and Blue Cheese Pear Chutney Bruschetta with Pecans and Blue Cheese Recipe
Sweet-tangy chutney pairs beautifully with pungent blue cheese and toasty pecans. You can make the chutney up to three days in advance; assemble bruschetta shortly before serving. Photo: Nina Choi

Image zoom Northwest Bounty Bruschetta Northwest Bounty Bruschetta Recipe
Bruschetta is a favorite appetizer because it's easy, tasty and versatile. This recipe features so many bold flavors like onion, tart cherries, blue cheese and hazelnuts. Photo: Annabelle Breakey; Styling: Karen Shinto

Image zoom Green Pea Pesto Crostini with Prosciutto Green Pea Pesto Crostini with Prosciutto Recipe

Offering a bright pop of color and requiring next to no prep time, these tasty little toasts are equally ideal for special spring gatherings and casual afternoon snacking. You can assemble them up to 45 minutes before serving and they won't sog out. Photo: Brie Passano; Styling: Claire Spollen

Image zoom Blue Cheese Crostini with Balsamic-Roasted Grapes Blue Cheese Crostini with Balsamic-Roasted Grapes Recipe
Keep this recipe in your back pocket to use as your go-to for last-minute company. Photo: Hector Sanchez; Styling: Caroline M. Cunningham

Image zoom Beet-and-Goat Cheese Crostini Beet-and-Goat Cheese Crostini Recipe
For a vibrant display, choose both golden and red beets for Beet-and-Goat Cheese Crostini. The combination of creamy goat cheese, roasted beets, and toasted walnuts is to die for. Photo: Tara Donne; Styling: Erin Swift

Image zoom Radish and Arugula Crostini with Brie Radish and Arugula Crostini with Brie Recipe
Add a generous smear of Brie cheese to toasted baguette before topping with peppery radish and arugula. Photo: Iain Bagwell; Styling: Cindy Barr

Image zoom Saucy Shrimp Sauté on Toast Saucy Shrimp Sauté on Toast Recipe
Check around for the best prices on shrimp: Sometimes, it's at the seafood counter; other times, it's in the freezer case. The garlic that's rubbed on the toast at the end lends lots of punch; for sensitive taste buds, skip that step. Photo: Jennifer Causey; Styling: Lindsey Lower

Image zoom Goat Cheese Toasts Goat Cheese Toasts Recipe
Serve Goat Cheese Toasts as an accompaniment to your meal or as a nibble at a party. With just five ingredients, they'll be a staple in your dinner or party rotation. Photo: Brie Passano; Styling: Lindsey Lower

Image zoom Prosciutto and Cheese Tartine Prosciutto and Cheese Tartine Recipe
Although the name tartine often refers to a French open-faced sandwich, this version is closer to Italian focaccia topped with piquant salad. Photo: Johnny Autry; Styling: Leigh Ann Ross

Image zoom Tartine with Blackberry Thyme Salad Tartine with Blackberry Thyme Salad Recipe
Celebrate berry season with delicious no-cook Tartine with Blackberry Thyme Salad breakfast sandwich. You can substitute blueberries if you can’t find blackberries.

Image zoom Banana & Almond Butter Toast Banana & Almond Butter Toast Recipe
This breakfast option couldn't be simpler, but it packs a nutritional wallop. The rye bread and banana will get you halfway to your daily Resistant Starch goal, and the almond butter adds metabolism-boosting MUFAs. Quentin Bacon

Image zoom Pear, Parsnip & Fourme d’Ambert Tartines Pear, Parsnip & Fourme d’Ambert Tartines Recipe
Pears and parsnips create an unusual sweet-savory topping for the French-style, open-face sandwiches called tartines. Photo: Christina Holmes

Image zoom Mint and Pea Pesto on Toasted Baguette Mint and Pea Pesto on Toasted Baguette Recipe
We serve Mint and Pea Pesto on Toasted Baguette on the side with pasta, but Mint and Pea Pesto is also good mixed in with your favorite pasta. Photo: Jason Wallis; Styling: Cindy Barr

Image zoom Cheddar 'n' Apple Cinnamon-Raisin Toast Cheddar 'n' Apple Cinnamon-Raisin Toast Recipe
Cheddar 'n' Apple Cinnamon-Raisin Toast adds a tasty crunch to your morning breafast. Photo: Kang Kim; Styling: Tiziana Agnello

Image zoom Broiled Banana on Toast Broiled Banana on Toast Recipe
When time is tight in the mornings, try this superfast and yummy open-faced breakfast sandwich.

Image zoom Crab Toast with Carrot and Scallion Crab Toast with Carrot and Scallion Recipe
These tasty appetizers are made on whole wheat baguette and are topped with a mixture of crab, soy sauce, green onions, sriracha, and sesame seeds. Photo: Johnny Autry; Styling: Cindy Barr

Image zoom Tomato Toast Tomato Toast Recipe
Summer appetizers don't get any easier than this! Quickly sauté tomato with butter and parsley before topping fresh baguette. Photo: John Autry; Styling: Cindy Barr

Image zoom Toast with Walnut & Pear Breakfast Spread Toast with Walnut & Pear Breakfast Spread Recipe
Cottage cheese packs CLA, walnuts add some omega-3s, and pear contributes fiber, making this easy dish a great way to jump-start your metabolism in the morning. Jim Bathie

Image zoom Roasted Garlic Toasts with Olio Nuovo Roasted Garlic Toasts with Olio Nuovo Recipe
Although you can use regular extra-virgin olive oil in this recipe, olio nuovo works better. It's pungent enough to stand up to the roasted garlic's strong flavor. Photo: Annabelle Breakey; Styling: Karen Shinto

Image zoom Pesto Bruschetta Pesto Bruschetta Recipe

Spread pesto over country bread and top with bell pepper, tomato, and feta to prepare this flavorful bruschetta. Photo: David Malosh; Styling: Gerri Williams for James Reps

Image zoom Open-Faced Shrimp-and-Avocado Sandwiches Open-Faced Shrimp-and-Avocado Sandwiches Recipe

These open-faced sandwiches are topped with tons of tasty ingredients: shrimp, avocado, bacon, and mayonnaise. For a sturdy sandwich base, use a thicker cut of bread. Photo: Alison Miksch; Styling: Caroline M. Cunningham 1 of 50 Advertisement