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chef in kitchen with toast

Toast Two Ways: Sweet and Savory With OXO Chef in Residence Melissa Ben-Ishay

Looking to take your breakfast staple beyond butter and jam? Try these two creative recipes from the chef behind Baked by Melissa.

3 min read

Avocado toast may be the open-faced wonder that sparked the specialty toast revolution, but OXO Chef in Residence Melissa Ben-Ishay has been doing toast her way for years. “I think toast is one of the most underrated meals,” she says, and she’s ready to inspire home cooks to think outside the box (and beyond butter and jam) when it comes to crafting masterpieces that take the traditional breakfast food to new levels.

Toast, says Ben-Ishay, is a vessel that can transport serious deliciousness from your plate to your mouth. From topping crispy bread with last night’s leftovers to exploring sweet or savory ingredients, toast provides a foundation for endless eating options. We asked Ben-Ishay for a few of her tips to elevate toast from a morning staple to culinary delight.

tongs lifting toast

Prepping the Perfect Piece of Toast

For starters, Ben-Ishay says, the best toast begins with a hearty slice of bread. (She loves a good sourdough but choose your favorite.) Next, skip the toaster and break out the skillet. Toasting bread in a pan may sound like an unnecessary extra step, but Ben-Ishay says the extra flavor it brings is worth it.
 
Drizzle olive oil on your bread, place your skillet over medium heat, and add the bread to the pan. If you’re creating savory toast, brush the bread with minced garlic, too, or rub the clove directly on your crisping toast.

mandolin being used by chef to slice

Once your bread is toasted, experiment with toppings and layering strategies. Pick a gooey, mashed or sticky ingredient to make a good base. Some of Ben-Ishay’s favorite recipes start with cottage cheese, but if you have a favorite soft cheese, feel free to experiment. Next, add a layer of protein then pile sliced or chopped veggies, herbs and spices on top. “Season each ingredient as you go to make it shine,” Ben-Ishay recommends

Looking for a few creative ideas? Check out two of Ben-Ishay’s favorite versions of toast—one savory and one sweet. Each topping is enough for 1-2 servings.

Cottage Cheese and Quickles Savory Toast

Directions:

1.
Using the fry pan, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil and add the bread. Toast for 1-2 minutes on each side until golden, flipping with tongs.
2.
On a cutting board, cut cucumbers into thin slices with a mandoline slicer. Add to a large stainless steel bowl.
3.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the dill, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.
4.
Pour the dressing over the cucumbers and mix well to combine.
5.
Sprinkle toast with garlic powder and salt. Top with cottage cheese and quickles.


toast with date spread

Sweet Toast with Date Caramel and Cottage Cheese

Directions:

1.
Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a skillet and add the bread. Toast for 1-2 minutes on each side, until golden.
2.
Add dates to a small mixing bowl and cover with boiling water for 15 minutes to soften.
3.
Transfer the waterlogged dates to a blender with 1/4 cup of the water from the bowl and the coconut cream. Blend until smooth and pour into a jar.
4.
Add the vanilla and salt.
5.
Mix in the jar. Cover and refrigerate until cool.
6.
After preparing the toast, remove it from the pan and spread with date caramel blend. Top with cottage cheese.


chef with toast in frying pan

Get Toasting

These sweet and savory toast recipes are great for breakfast, but Ben-Ishay says they’re perfect for lunch or an easy dinner, too. Or use them as a springboard to craft your own unique toast. Whatever you do, don’t think specialty toast has to stop with avocado.

Looking for a little more toast-topping inspo? Explore these exciting recipe ideas.

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