Sometimes simple, small dishes turn out to be the most delicious things you create.
(Not Avocado) Toast: Sliced Baguette With Herbed Goat Cheese and Mint-Basil Pesto
Vibrant green pesto makes this finger food perfect for your next party.
Let’s talk about toast. When used as a descriptor, the word “toast” is usually a bad thing, especially when it comes to food. If something (or, let’s face it, someone) is as “dry as a piece of toast,” or “bland as toast,” that’s not a compliment (and is also a perfectly valid reason for declining the offer of a second date, regardless of the fact that he picked you up on the first date in a heartbreakingly perfect khaki/quarter-zip combo…it’s just that if you crack the most perfectly-timed Zoolander joke ever about wetness being the essence of water, and your date doesn’t laugh despite having seen the movie, you’ve gotta deduct points from the “personality” column, khakis and quarter zips notwithstanding). I digress…back to toast…for years (decades, if I had to guess), toast was basically a breakfast afterthought – you used it to break up your egg yolks or you smeared butter and jam all over it to make it taste like…well, to make it taste like anything other than toast. Over the last few years, however, toast is having something of a renaissance, and, personally, I’m a big fan.
Avocado toast has been the clear ringleader of this movement, which is fine by me – I love the stuff, but since it’s really the only type of specialty toast out there these days, I figured I’d give another bread-and-interesting-topping combo a go, which is how I came up with these toasted baguettes with goat cheese and my homemade, minty pesto. I suppose these could also be called ‘bruschetta,’ but since I literally toasted bread to make them, I’m gonna go ahead and say they fall in the ‘toast’ bucket. I think the key with the ‘fancy toast’ trend is to make sure that you’ve got a few key components going on: the bread should be delicious in its own right – I picked my baguette up from a corner bakery where it had been fresh-baked that day; there should be a source of creaminess – whether that comes from smashed avocados or something like goat cheese, and there should be some flavor that can stand up to both the starchiness of the bread, and the creaminess of the toppings, without being too overpowering. To that end, the mint really is the perfect addition here, because it’s sort of unexpected but still totally in line with the herby, earthy flavor that people expect from a well-made pesto, plus, it cuts through the richness of the goat cheese spread without totally overwhelming any of the other flavors involved. Speaking of the goat cheese spread, this stuff slathered on toast would be fine all on its own – it’s delicious, but I think the fresh, herby pesto really adds something special here, so I like to add heaping spoonfuls of it right over the top.
These finger foods are great as a side dish (I ate mine with some pasta – carbs are our friends), or as party snacks, and I think they’d be total hit as an appetizer at your next dinner – they’re easy to pick up, easy to eat, super pretty and really, truly delicious. Plus, they take about 10 minutes to make, and that includes clean up.
To make these, I recycled my recipe for mint-basil-feta pesto. Here’s exactly how I did it:
4 1/2 ounces soft goat cheese
1 tsp finey chopped fresh mint leaves
1 tbsp honey
1 batch mint-basil-feta pesto (recipe here). Simply substitute 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese for the feta cheese in that recipe (feta is super creamy, but Parmesan isn’t, so you’ll need to double the amount of cheese you use in order to achieve a rich, smooth texture).
1 French style baguette, cut into slices about 1/2 an inch thick.
1 tbsp fresh cracked black pepper
Lightly toast the baguette slices by placing them in a dry grill pan, over medium-high heat for about 30 seconds per side, until golden brown grill marks are showing on the bread.
In a bowl, mix the goat cheese, fresh mint and honey until combined.
Slather the herbed goat cheese on the baguette slices, distributing the cheese evenly among the slices of bread.
Spoon the room temperature pesto over the top of the goat-cheese covered baguette slices, garnish with fresh black pepper, and serve.