5 elevated toast toppings to save your WFH lunches

Posted by for Food and Drink

Toast might be a much-loved snack, but it can be a meal in its own right. Whether it’s for breakfast, brunch or a light evening meal, these delicious recipes will transform your humble slices of bread into a truly impressive spread.

They say its the simple things in life that often bring us the most joy: curling up with a beloved childhood book, singing at the top of our lungs, calling a close friend for a proper catch-up. To that list, we add one of one of life’s greatest inventions: toast.

Whether slathered in melted cheese, smothered with Nutella, or simply buttered in a warm and slightly scruffy stack, tucking into a couple of slices of toast truly makes the grade as one of life’s little pleasures. It’s also one food that can be eaten the whole day long; from a few hurried bites at breakfast, through to a mid-afternoon snack when we need something satisfying to crunch on.

As much as we all have our preferences when it comes to toppings, there’s plenty of potential to transform a few humble slices of bread into a more substantial meal, especially now that the artisanal toast trend has taken hold. That’s the premise of Emily Kydd’s cookbook Posh Toast, which contains over 70 glorious suggestions for elevating your toast game, from classic combinations to contemporary mixes.

Now that many of us are working from home and sitting in close proximity to the toaster, we figured now would be a great time to relinquish the sorry jars languishing in the side of our fridge for something a little more special. With that in mind, we’ve five delicious toast recipes to have on hand whenever you need them.

There are plenty of good things to say about the roasted tomato and goat’s cheese tartine: it’s vegetarian, beautifully brunch-like, and strikes a genius balance between the flavours of dark nutty bread and creamy cheese.

If you’re looking to make the most of seasonal produce, the buttered leeks and parmesan pain perdu (that’s French toast, to you and I) is a melt-in-the-mouth meal for chilly days, while the chilli, mint and feta toast with marinated courgettes is a great way to preserve the crisp bite of your veggies.

For recipes that will transport you to warmer climes by way of your kitchen, the hummus and spiced lamb is sure to conjure the flavours of Lebanese street food stalls. And if a European minibreak feels like a far-off fantasy, make like you’re eating on the Spanish streets with the escalivada tuna with roasted vegetables. Your toaster is waiting in anticipation…

  • Roasted tomato and goat’s cheese tartine

    Emily says: “A tartine is a French open sandwich. In this clever veggie version a dark, nutty bread is matched with a mild goat’s cheese. Whisking the cheese is a cheffy trick that not only improves and lightens the texture but also looks extremely smart swirled onto the toast.”

    Serves 4

    Takes 45 minutes

    Ingredients

    • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved 
    • 1 tsp brown sugar
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 200g soft goat’s cheese 
    • splash of milk (optional) 
    • handful thyme sprigs, leaves picked
    • 4 slices walnut bread
    • 2 handfuls baby salad leaves
    • salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Method

    Preheat the oven to 160°C fan/315°F/gas 4 and line a roasting tray with baking parchment. Place the tomatoes, cut-side up, on the roasting tray. Sprinkle over the sugar and drizzle with the olive oil, season and roast for 35 – 40 minutes, until the tomatoes are starting to collapse. Leave to cool a little.

    While the tomatoes are roasting, whisk the goat’s cheese in a bowl with a splash or two of milk, if needed, until smooth, creamy and spreadable. Season with salt and pepper and stir through most of the thyme.

    Toast the bread, then spread thickly with the goat’s cheese. Top with a few baby leaves, the tomatoes and a drizzle of their roasting juices, then scatter over the remaining thyme.

  • Buttered leeks and parmesan pain perdu

    Emily says: “French toast is a favourite in diners and greasy spoons all over the world but the truly posh call it ‘pain perdu’. Plenty of butter and long, slow stewing in wine make the leeks meltingly spectacular.”

    Serves 4

    Takes 30 minutes

    Ingredients

    • 50g butter
    • 1 garlic clove, bashed
    • few thyme sprigs
    • 75ml white wine or water 
    • 3 leeks, trimmed, cut into 5cm pieces then halved lengthways
    • 3 large eggs
    • 100ml milk
    • 25g parmesan, finely grated, plus extra to serve
    • 4 slices white farmhouse bread salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Method

    Place half the butter, the garlic, thyme and wine or water in a shallow pan over a medium heat and simmer until the butter has melted. Add the leeks, gently toss in the buttery liquid and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and cook for a further 10 minutes or until the leeks are tender and the liquid has evaporated. Set aside to cool a little.

    Meanwhile preheat the oven to 140°C fan/275°F/ gas 3.

    In a jug, beat together the eggs, milk, grated Parmesan and seasoning. Place the bread in a shallow dish in a single layer and pour over the egg mixture. Leave to soak for 5 minutes on each side. Melt half of the remaining butter in a frying pan over a low heat. Transfer two of the soaked bread slices to the pan and fry for 2 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Transfer to a baking tray and keep warm in the oven whilst you cook the remaining slices in the same way.

    Spoon the warm leeks over the eggy bread, top with grated Parmesan and a little black pepper.

  • Courgettes, chilli, mint and feta

    Emily says: “Cooked courgettes can be mushy and disappointing, but using them raw and marinated like this turns them into something completely different. A stunningly crisp and sparkling salad in which to bury nuggets of salty feta.”

    Serves 4

    Takes 15 minutes

    Ingredients

    • 1 large or 2 small courgettes
    • 1 1⁄2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil few good pinches chilli (hot pepper) flakes, plus extra to serve
    • small handful mint leaves, roughly chopped
    • zest 1⁄2 lemon
    • 4 slices pane pugliese or other rustic bread
    • 140g feta, broken into large chunks
    • salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Method

    Slice the courgette lengthways into thin ribbons using a vegetable peeler or mandoline. Place in a bowl and toss through 1 tbsp of the oil, the chilli flakes, most of the mint, lemon zest and some seasoning. Set aside to soften for 5 minutes.

    Toast the bread and drizzle with the remaining oil. Top with the courgette ribbons and crumble over the feta, then sprinkle over a little extra chilli and the remaining mint.

  • Warm hummus and spiced lamb

    Emily says: “In Lebanon, flatbread topped with hummus and spiced ground lamb is called lahmacun and is served as a popular street food. Use good-quality shop-bought hummus if you’re feeling lazy.”

    Serves 4

    Takes 20 minutes

    Ingredients

    • 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
    • 3 tbsp tahini
    • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
    • zest 1⁄2 lemon and juice 1 small lemon
    • 1 tsp ground cumin
    • 2 tbsp natural yoghurt
    • 3 tbsp olive oil
    • 2 tbsp pine nuts
    • large knob butter
    • 400g minced lamb 
    • 1 1⁄2 tsp ground allspice
    • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 4 slices wholemeal bread
    • 1⁄2 tsp chilli flakes (use Aleppo or Turkish chilli flakes if you can find them)
    • large handful parsley leaves, roughly chopped
    • salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Method

    Preheat the oven to 160°C fan/315°F/gas 4.

    Place the chickpeas, tahini, 1 garlic clove, the lemon zest and juice, cumin, yoghurt, 2 tbsp oil and 2 tbsp cold water into a food processor. Season, then blend for about 5 minutes until completely smooth. Transfer to an ovenproof dish. Heat a frying pan and add the pine nuts, tossing until they start to colour. Add the butter and let it melt and turn golden. Pour the buttery mixture over the hummus and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

    Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in the same frying pan over a high heat. Add the lamb and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring, until the lamb is browned and crisp and any liquid evaporated. Stir through the remaining garlic, allspice, cinnamon, season, and cook for 2 minutes.

    Toast the bread. Spoon the warm hummus over the toast. Scoop up the spiced lamb with a slotted spoon and divide between the slices of toast. Top with a sprinkling of chilli flakes and some parsley.

  • Escalivada tuna

    Emily says: “Escalivada is just the Catalan name for roasted vegetables. The charred veg are made ahead of time and stored in a marinade that takes on the flavours and soaks wonderfully into toast. Albacore or ventresca tuna are a luxurious treat but this is still wonderful made with regular tuna.”

    Serves 4

    Takes 30 minutes

    Ingredients

    • 2 red onions
    • 2 large peppers, a mixture of red and yellow, peeled
    • 1 small aubergine 
    • 225g jar albacore tuna in extra virgin olive oil
    • 10 cherry tomatoes
    • 1 small garlic clove, crushed 
    • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
    • 4 slices pain de campagne 
    • salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Method

    Heat the grill to its highest setting. Cut the onions into chunky wedges. Halve the peppers, remove the seeds and cut into thick strips. Halve the aubergine widthways and slice each half into long wedges. Tip the vegetables onto a large baking tray lined with foil. Drain the oil from the tuna and spoon 2 tbsp of the oil over the vegetables. Season and toss together, then spread out into an even layer. Grill for 10-15 minutes, or until nicely charred. Keep an eye on them so that they don’t burn, and turn the vegetables every so often. Add the tomatoes to the tray for the final 4 minutes.

    While the vegetables are cooking, make the dressing. Combine the garlic, the reserved oil, the vinegar and some seasoning in a jar, and shake well. Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl, pour over the dressing and toss to combine. Set aside for a few minutes to cool and let the flavours meld together.

    Toast the bread. Pile the vegetables onto the toast and top with chunks of tuna.

    From Posh Toast by Emily Kydd (£12.99, Quadrille), out now

Photography: Louise Hagger

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Christobel Hastings

Christobel Hastings is a London-based journalist covering pop culture, feminism, LGBTQ and lore.