A couple weeks ago, I got to hang with one of my favorite bloggers, Abeer Najjar. Over the last few months, we've become friends on instagram, and it was so wonderful actually getting to meet in person. We grabbed lunch at Jerusalem Café in Oak Park (I drank so much carrot juice and ate so much delicious fattoush). We had a blast talking for hours, and we covered just about everything, including commiserating about avocado toast. It's not that I hate avocado toast, I'm just a little stunned that it's so quickly become the default topping, when there are so many other options out there.
I love getting creative with toast, and I tend to change the toppings depending on the season, so I thought it would be fun to put together a list of my favorite cold weather toast toppings (although most of these would be delicious year-round). In the wintertime, I tend to crave warm aromas, preserved flavors, and lots (and lots) of dairy. So my apologies to my vegan friends, since there is only one vegan toast here, but I hope it's some consolation that the vegan one is my favorite, and also the one I'll kick things off with:
tahini + banana + cardamom + honey *
Combine 1 part honey with 2 parts tahini, and spread it on toast. Top it with banana slices, sprinkle with a very, very small pinch of cardamom, and (optionally) top with a little more honey and/or coarse sugar to make it extra sweet and pretty.
* Feel free to use black strap molasses, date molasses, agave, or another syrup if you want to make this vegan (or to use what you have).
roast squash + pistachios + honey + cinnamon + cream cheese
If you like pumpkin pie, you'll like this toast. If you don't like pumpkin pie, you'll like this toast. Slice your squash of choice (pictured here: mini kabocha) into 1/2-inch slices and roast at 400° F until soft on the inside and a little crispy on the outside. Spread cream cheese on toast, top with roast squash, drizzle with honey, and finish with finely chopped pistachios and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
cilantro + feta + olive oil + sliced red onions
Thinly slice or crumble feta on toast, top with a big heap of cilantro (or parsley, mint, or basil), a few thin slices of red onion, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. If there's one thing I've learned from my mother and grandmother, it's that you can eat leafy herbs in a salad-like-quantity (not much sprinkling going on around here).
crumbly cheese + caraway + green onions + cucumber
Combine your favorite crumbly cheese with caraway seeds (or make my recipe for gubta mtumarta / buried cheese), crumble on toast, and top with chopped green onions and sliced cucumber.
how to eat more toast
If you're trying to find more toastable moments, breakfast is a clear winner. But gorgeously topped toast also makes for wonderful hors d'oeuvres, especially when cut into little canapés before broiling. Just use a small round cookie cutter, or if you don't have a tiny cookie cutter, just scrub an empty can of tomato paste and use that instead (just watch out for the edges). It also makes a wonderful snack, or a side dish for lunch or dinner. Toast is what you make of it.