Stuff on toast

Whether called bruschetta, crostini, or tartines,  things piled atop toasted bread get lots of love in Europe, but Americans hold little affection for the form.  In the U.S., savory “stuff on toast” has forever been tainted by S.O.S. (shit on a shingle, or creamed chipped beef poured over toast), a staple of military cooking since the 1930s.  Toast, to most of my countrymen, is consumed with butter and jam at the breakfast table.  Or it is laden with garlic and butter, served alongside piles of carbohydrates.

Contrary to most Americans, I like savory stuff on toast (with the exception of S.O.S., as it usually too salty for me).  Tuna and white beans, sauteed chicken livers, chopped tomatoes, creole cream cheese with black pepper, ricotta and roasted peppers:  the list is nearly endless.  (Fortunately, my home-baked bread supply can keep pace.)  I’m especially fond of stuff on toast during summer’s deepest heat, as it requires minimal cooking, is infinitely adaptable to seasonal ingredients, and is filling without being weighty.

Last night’s supper, sauteed mushrooms on sourdough flaxseed toast, took less than 15 minutes to prepare.  While the dish sounds humble, fresh herbs,  a bit of wine vinegar, and excellent toast make it more than the sum of its parts.

Mushrooms on toast

  • 3 T butter
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped (or substitute 2 cloves garlic)
  • 8 to 12 ounces mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 4-6 sage leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar (or juice of 1/2 lemon)
  • salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 slices sturdy bread, lightly toasted
Heat butter in a 10-inch skillet until it sizzles, then add shallots.  Saute shallots until lightly browned, then add mushrooms, thyme, and sage.  Cook mushrooms over high heat, stirring occasionally, until they release liquid.  Add red wine vinegar, salt, and black pepper.  Continue cooking on high to cook off the mushroom’s moisture.   Remove from heat when mushrooms are lightly browned in spots.  Place bread slices on individual plates; spoon mushroom mixture evenly over bread.  Serves 2 as an entree, or 4 as a first course.

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