I don’t know about you, but to me, toast will always be a classic, either as a snack or a full on meal. There are endless possibilities when it comes to toppings, and there is just something fundamentally cosy about a hearty slice of bread on a cold morning – essentially the only thing that can make crawl out from under my blankets (although, that probably my fault for sleeping with the window open, but I cannot deal with a stuffy room, at all).
I spent this weekend trying out new recipes, one of which was supposed to be a vegan version of a Russian classic – pelmeni, or boiled dumplings with mushrooms and peas. It failed. Badly. Not gonna lie, I wept a bit because it’s always a shame when you come up with a fantastic idea, but the expectations do not accord with reality and it quite literally falls apart before your eyes. After feeling sorry for myself and having something like an existential crisis, I decided to see the whole situation as a sign to make something that’s a lot simpler but definitely not inferior in terms of quality. After all, I am all about making vegan recipes accessible and easy to incorporate into any lifestyle, and toast couldn’t come closer to these parameters – it requires minimal preparation, can be eaten for any meal (although, does anyone else find it strange that we allocate certain foods to certain times of day?! this rule should apply to any food) and is perfect for lunch/bento boxes.
Usually, I make my own bread because most store brought options tend to contain too much salt. There is nothing wrong with that, but I personally feel much better on a lower-sodium diet and that is one of the many reasons as to why I cook for myself as much as possible. Moreover, few things can beat the smell of freshly baked bread. However, when I walked past the bakery of a local health food store this morning I could not take my eyes off a particularly delicious loaf and decided to give it a go, and it certainly did not disappoint. I mean, while my bread may be tasty, I always struggle with making it anything other than completely shapeless so I am inherently fascinated by anyone who can make it look aesthetically pleasing.
While I am someone who prefers sweet toast, I’ve included a savoury idea in this post for anyone who may prefer the latter, and stuck to seasonal ingredients because there is nothing worse than finding a delicious-looking recipe only to discover that it uses dragonfruit and some exotic variety of dates that only grows on the equator. Try these out for breakfast, as a mid-day snack or even bring them along as a treat for the first Christmas party of the season. I will soon be delivering actual Christmas-inspired recipes (as well as, hopefully, a successful version of vegan pelmeni, if I ever find myself brave enough to try again) but my favourite meals are the ones that transcend seasonal boundaries. Okay, before I manage to romanticise toast a tiny bit too much, let’s jump into the recipes.
Idea 1: Banana on Toast with a Chocolate Yoghurt Sauce
When I found out that I am no longer allergic to bananas, one of the first things I did (after, of course, making banana ice cream) was put it on toast, and I discovered just why this is a classic.
However, a few finishing touches can take this from a very basic, throw-it-together-at-the-last-minute type of meal to something a tiny bit more worthy of being posted on Instagram (even if you’re like me and spend ages looking at five basically identical pictures before carrying out a ruthless process of elimination as a means of deciding which one will make it past the ‘share’ button). To make the chocolate sauce, mix together
- 1 tbsp nut or seed butter of choice
- 1 tbsp soya yoghurt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tbsp agave nectar
- a pinch of cacao powder
- plant milk until it reaches your desired consistency
Given that bananas are quite sweet by themselves, I created a sauce that was quite subtle and didn’t overwhelm their natural flavour. After drizzling the sauce over your toast, or setting it aside for dipping, finish off this delicious and simple treat with:
- dark chocolate (I use 90% cacao but I understand this is a tad bit tooo intense for most people lol)
- fresh or frozen blueberries
- a few drops of lime juice (try not to overdo it though!)
Idea 2: Avocado on toast with a spicy pinto bean spread
While millennial propaganda hasn’t managed to persuade me that avocado is the solution to all of live’s troubles, and I am often dismayed by my inability to judge an avocado’s ripeness, it is nonetheless one of my favourite healthy fat sources and always looks much more photogenic than I could ever aspire to be.
To make the pinto bean spread, firstly add around 1/3 can of pinto beans to a frying pan and stir until lightly browned. Then, add to a food processor alongside:
- 1 tbsp finely chopped onion
- 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1/2 minced garlic clove
- 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
- a pinch of dried oregano
- salt and pepper to taste
and blend until a chunky paste is formed. Serve everything with fresh tomatoes, dried basil and a few leaves of arugula. If they’re in season, strawberries can add a lovely hint of sweetness, however trying to find fresh berries in England right now makes you feel like one of those people who walk around beaches looking for gold with metal detectors. But anyway, I’ll never let anyone tell me that avocado on toast is basic because it is only basic if you allow it to be.
Idea 3: Pumpkin sauce with figs and apples
Seeing as Autumn is almost over, I am making the most of it by indulging in pumpkin like there is no tomorrow. And recently, I’ve managed to find a shop that sells organic figs that literally taste like candy, and I couldn’t help but create something which combines these two lovely foods. If you feel like being a tiny bit extra, you could even caramelise the figs which is easily done – simply toss them in around a tbsp of agave nectar and then add to a frying pan on a medium heat for 2-3 minutes.
To make the sauce, add the following into a small bowl:
- 2 tbsp canned pumpkin
- 1 tbsp nut or seed butter of choice
- 1 tsp sweetener of choice
- a pinch of ground nutmeg
Serve with fresh apple (the pink lady variety is my favourite) or any other fresh fruit of your choice – persimmon would work well too.
And seeing as I am feeling generous, I will now share some more of my favourite toast topping ideas as a little bonus/very early Christmas present to you all:
- scrambled tofu made with cumin, turmeric and spinach
- mushrooms stir-fried in red wine vinegar with fresh onions and red peppers
- beetroot hummus (simply made by blending 1/2 can of chickpeas with 1 tsp tahini, lemon juice to taste and a small boiled beet)
- Soya yoghurt, pomegranate seeds, fresh blueberries and agave nectar
- Avocado spread, edamame, sweetcorn and sea salt
Let me know in the comments – will you be trying out any of these? And what do you typically have on your toast?
Hoping you are all having a fantastic start to your November and I will be seeing you all again very soon!
Lots of love, Maria ♡
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