A friend of mine was recently in town from LA and mentioned the “fancy toast” trend. That is, restaurants loading artisanal toast with incredible toppings and charging $8 per slice. Everything from simple avocado toast to exotic flavors like ricotta-kumquat-basil fit into the fancy toast craze. Though it’s drawn some criticism (as all fads do), why not embrace the fancy toast? To us, fancy toast is a no-stress method for making simple vegetarian meals and easy dinner recipes at home. We love a fancy toast as a simple lunch, or even a light weeknight dinner with a green salad. The trick with fancy toast is that it can’t be Wonder Bread and peanut butter; it’s got to be a nice thick slice of crusty bread loaded with seasonal goodness.
This fancy toast recipe comes to us from the new cookbook Six Seasons by Joshua McFadden. Joshua is chef behind the acclaimed Ava Gene’s restaurant in Portland. He’s also a cookbook author who’s passionate about connecting everyday people to the joy of seasonal eating. How does he get six seasons out of the traditional four? Joshua’s split the summer season into early, mid and late summer. It’s genius, since produce that appears early in the summer is entirely different from what appears in later months. Before we started eating seasonally, we thought June meant juicy red tomatoes!—only to learn that in Indiana, they’re not ready until July and August.
When I interviewed Joshua on our podcast, it was late spring. I paged through Six Seasons looking for a recipe to try and found the book incredibly gorgeous and inventive. At the time, this Agrodolce Ramps on Grilled Bread recipe caught my eye. Ramps are hard to find and only available in the spring, but I was intrigued by the agrodolce, a traditional sweet and sour sauce in Italian cuisine. We make a lot of Mediterranean recipes, but we’d never tried agrodolce. I resolved to make the recipe using scallions (green onions) in place of ramps, since they’re quite similar and green onions are readily available in many seasons here in Indiana. In this agrodolce, the sweet comes from golden raisins, which are sauteed with scallions and toasted pine nuts, then reduced with the sour, some red wine vinegar.
This toast features not only an agrodolce but a whipped ricotta spread, which I knew would make for a fantastic toast. In the past, we’ve made a ricotta spread for fancy toast by simply mixing salt and pepper with ricotta. Here, the ricotta is whipped in the food processor with a bit of olive oil and S&P to make a creamy, savory spread. This spread could be used in all sorts of ways: topped with fresh tomatoes and a bit of basil, or even fresh plums or cherries with fresh tarragon.
The play of the sweet and savory elements against the creamy ricotta spread in this fancy toast is brilliant. The flavors are refined and it’s a standout treat. This fancy toast is easily customizable and can be served for vegetarian meals of all kinds:
- Place it on small crostini and serve it as an appetizer
- Nosh on it as an elegant brunch option
- Serve it as a vegetarian lunch
- Combine it with a green salad and it’s a light meatless dinner for two
- Try it as a midnight snack alongside your Netflix binge
As for the book, Six Seasons is an incredible anthology, an ode to seasonal eating. It’s got an allure and glamour from chef Joshua’s touch, but it’s easy to find easy dinner recipes and vegetarian meals that will work for your table. If you’re interested, you can order Six Seasons below. As vegetable-obsessed cookbook authors, it’s right up our alley.
The featured book
Order Six Seasons by Joshua McFadden.
For more, follow author @jj___mc on Instagram and listen to Joshua McFadden on the A Couple Cooks podcast.
Want more fancy toast?
We’re obsessed with fancy toast too, though it goes by many names on our website. A few of our favorite fancy toast recipes:
Looking for easy dinner recipes?
In our catalog of easy dinner recipes, nothing is easier than fancy toast! Here are a few of our best easy dinner recipes, selected with an eye for speed:
Looking for vegetarian meals?
Vegetarian meals are most of what we eat on weeknights, like this fancy toast. Here are a few of our favorite vegetarian meals:
Did you make this recipe?
If you make this agrodolce scallions & whipped ricotta toast, we’d love to hear how it turned out. Leave a comment below or share a picture on Instagram and mention @acouplecooks and @jj___mc.
This recipe is…
Vegetarian. For gluten-free, use gluten-free toasts. For vegan, dairy-free, and plant-based, substitute cashew cream for the whipped ricotta.
Agrodolce Scallions & Whipped Ricotta on Toast
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 bunch scallions, ends trimmed, white parts finely sliced, dark green tops cut across into 2-inch ribbons
- ¼ teaspoon dried chile flakes
- 2 tablespoons raisins, plumped in warm water for 15 minutes, drained
- 1 tablespoon pine nuts, lightly toasted
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
- Four ½-inch-thick slices country bread (or make smaller crostini)
- ½ recipe Whipped Ricotta (below)
- Pour a healthy glug of olive oil into a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sliced white portions of the scallions and chile flakes, and cook until the onions are soft and fragrant, but not browned, about 2 minutes.
- Add the dark green tops, raisins, and pine nuts, season with salt and black pepper, and cook until all is soft and fragrant, another minute or so. Add the vinegar and toss everything around to deglaze the pan. Cook for about a minute to heat everything through and finish with a drizzle of olive oil. Taste and adjust the salt, pepper, vinegar, and chile levels.
- Grill or toast the bread, spread a nice thick layer of whipped ricotta on each piece, and top with the ramps and their juices. Serve warm.
- 1½ cups whole-milk ricotta cheese
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
- Put the ricotta, salt, and 20 twists of pepper in a food processor and start to process. With the motor running, add the olive oil in a thin stream. Pause and scrape down the sides if needed. The mixture should get lovely and creamy. Taste it and adjust with more salt, pepper, or even a bit more olive oil-you should be able to taste the oil as well as the ricotta. Store in the fridge for up to 1 week.