Breakfast toast has been #trending for a while now, whether it’s of the avocado or unicorn variety. Toast is a good way to use up leftovers from a fresh loaf, makes a perfect vehicle for sweet and savory toppings, and serves as a creative canvas to transform your fridge leftovers into an Instagram-worthy dinner. For a quick weeknight dinner that doesn’t have to feel like a slapped-together sandwich, try these tips to elevate your dinner toast to composed tartine status.

Treat Your Toast Right

Start with a loaf of good bread – something like a crusty sourdough or seedy multigrain – and slice it thick. Rub it with a clove of smashed garlic, drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and toast in the oven (or a toaster) until golden brown.

Choose a Creamy Base

For textural variety and added flavor, pick something with some smoothness to it (think peanut butter consistency): ricotta, hummus, pesto, smashed avocado, or even smashed white beans or chickpeas all work well.

Bulk It Up

You don’t necessarily have to go with an animal protein (although nothing was ever made worse from the addition of prosciutto or jammy eggs), but make sure to top your toast with something filling. Stewed eggplant, sweet potato, or crispy mushrooms all make for delicious toppings. Stick to seasonal veggies for ultimate flavor.

Garnish with Flair

Kick it up a notch with garnishes like pea shoots, crushed nuts, chili flakes, sliced radish, pickled vegetables, and more. When choosing your final toppings, think about adding crunch, color, and layers of flavor that augment your base and bulk ingredients.

Here’s some recipe inspiration to get you started:

1. Butternut Squash-Kale Toasts

Chowhound

Sweet and earthy with roasted squash and sautéed kale, this rustic toast is topped with fruity Parmigiano-Reggiano and has a little kick from red pepper flakes.  Get our Butternut Squash-Kale Toasts recipe.

2. Salade Niçoise Sandwich

Chowhound

Forget boring old tuna salad. Try seared tuna steaks with piquant cornichon-caper mayo and briny kalamata olives instead. Crisp red onions and perfect hard-boiled eggs top off this elegant toast. Get our Salade Niçoise Sandwich recipe.

3. Goat Cheese Toasts with Asparagus-Mushroom Ragu

Chowhound

If spring was a sandwich, this would be it: fresh mushrooms, shallots, and tender-crisp asparagus, gently sautéed and made lush with cream, atop tangy, silky goat cheese. A hint of tarragon and cracked black pepper enliven the dish.  Get our Goat Cheese Toasts with Asparagus-Mushroom Ragu recipe.

4. Open-Faced Shrimp Salad Sandwich

Chowhound

Light and bright, this lemony salad contrasts tender shrimp with crunchy veggies. Fresh dill and a little Dijon add more layers of flavor. Get our Open-Faced Shrimp Salad Sandwich recipe.

5. Open-Faced Toasted Tomato Sandwich

Chowhound

When heirloom tomatoes are in season, it’s best to treat them simply in order to showcase their fantastic flavor and texture. Here, they’re accented with nothing more than creamy cheese like Brie or Camembert, sea salt, and freshly cracked pepper. Get our Open-Faced Toasted Tomato Sandwich recipe.

6. Ricotta Crostini with Sautéed Nettles

Chowhound

A healthy dose of rich, buttery ricotta cheese supports a pile of fresh, quick-cooked greens (if you can’t find nettles, spinach will do, or any reasonably earthy, sturdy green). So simple, yet so delicious. Feel free to top with bacon or pancetta if you want a salty, meaty element. Get our Ricotta Crostini with Sautéed Nettles recipe.

7. Mollete con Chorizo y Salsa Tricolor

Chowhound

Toasted torta rolls are topped with creamy refried beans, queso fresco, scrambled eggs, and spiced chorizo, plus sour cream, avocado, and two fresh salsas: red (roasted tomato) and green (tomatillo).  Get our Mollete con Chorizo y Salsa Tricolor recipe.

8. Sautéed Mushroom and Pancetta Bruschetta

Chowhound

Juicy, golden brown mushrooms and crispy diced pancetta get added savor from Marsala wine, thyme, and cream. Get our Sautéed Mushroom and Pancetta Bruschetta recipe.

9. Ultimate Maple Bacon French Toast

Chowhound

Technically, this is still toast with a topping, and why not have breakfast for dinner once in a while? (Or for dessert?) Eggy, custardy French toast gets a sweet-salty cap of crunchy bacon, toasted pecans, brown sugar, and spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, and clove). A drizzle of maple syrup is the perfect finishing touch.  Get our Ultimate Maple Bacon French Toast recipe.

— Head photo: Honestly Yum.

Allegra Ben-Amotz is a freelance writer and home cook based in Mexico City, where she is currently struggling to hold on to her lifetime badge of vegetarianism. She has written for publications including The Wall Street Journal, Serious Eats, and Clean Plates. Follow her on Instagram @allgoodnews.

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