MEAL-WORTHY TOAST RECIPES
RECIPES AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY KARISTA BENNETT
PESTO, ASPARAGUS, PROSCIUTTO, AND SHAVED PARMESAN ON ITALIAN TOAST
This toast recipe always makes a dramatic addition to the dinner table. The colors and textures make for a beautiful presentation, and it’s so tasty you’ll want to eat more than one. Although this toast is an ideal main dish when accompanied by a spring-greens salad, it makes for a fresh and flavorful side too.
Makes 6 toasts
- 2 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 lemon zested and juiced
- ⅓ cup chopped walnuts
- ½ cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese (or a blend)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ to ¾ pound asparagus (2 to 3 stalks per toast)
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup balsamic vinegar
- 6 slices of ciabatta bread or Italian bread, toasted
- 6 thin slices of prosciutto
- ¼ cup shaved Parmesan
To make the pesto, add the basil, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, lemon zest and juice, walnuts, Parmesan or Romano cheese, salt, and pepper to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the ingredients several times and be sure to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a spatula. Once the ingredients look combined but not pureed, put the lid of the food processor back on and drizzle slowly with the ½ cup olive oil as you pulse the ingredients. Once the mixture looks pureed and somewhat smooth, it will be done. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Place the asparagus on a parchment-lined baking sheet and toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Sprinkle the asparagus with the salt and pepper and bake until crisp tender, about 5 to 8 minutes depending on the thickness of the asparagus. Once the asparagus pieces are done, set them aside and keep them warm.
To assemble the toasts, place each piece on a platter or individual plates. Spread 1 tablespoon of pesto onto each toast. Then layer each toast with 2 or 3 asparagus stalks, cutting the stalks in half if needed. Then layer with 1 slice of prosciutto per toast and top with shaved Parmesan.
Drizzle each toast with the balsamic reduction and serve immediately.
Note: The pesto can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 3 days. It’s lovely tossed over pasta with the leftover asparagus and prosciutto.
BAY SHRIMP SALAD ON THICK WHITE TOAST
Bay shrimp may be one of the most underappreciated types of seafood. It’s readily available and can be used in a multitude of recipes. Bay shrimp shines in this recipe where it’s combined with chives, pimentos, green onions, and cheddar cheese. This is a hearty toast that boasts both incredible flavor and texture.
- 1 pound bay shrimp (the small salad shrimp)
- ⅓ cup good-quality mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped chives
- 4-ounce jar of pimentos, drained
- ½ cup thin sliced green onions
- ⅓ cup shredded cheddar cheese
- ½ cup sliced black olives (optional)
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 6 slices thick white bread, toasted
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped chives, for garnish
- ½ cup microgreens or sprouts, for garnish (optional)
Place the bay shrimp in a single layer on paper towels. Cover the bay shrimp with a few more paper towels and blot the shrimp, removing the excess moisture.
Put the shrimp in a bowl and add the mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon chives, pimentos, sliced green onions, cheddar cheese, olives if desired, and lemon zest. Gently toss to combine. When all the ingredients are well combined, season to taste with salt and pepper. Most brands of mayonnaise vary in salt, so it’s important to season the shrimp salad to taste.
Note: You can make this shrimp salad up to 24 hours before serving. Keep it in the refrigerator until needed.
Diana Taylor Realty