Recipes for toast that help you use up that loaf

Toast is the ideal blank canvas for turning anything — like sheet pan sausages with tomatoes and onions — into quick dinner.
(Silvia Razgova / For The Times)

Every once in a while, I get on a toast kick. It’s actually pretty regular, since I love toast so much and have it virtually every morning for breakfast. But occasionally, I’ll transition my toast habit to evenings for three to four dinners in a row. This is typically timed to needing to use up a loaf before it goes stale — a common problem in L.A., where the best loaves are often available only whole and are bigger than most toddlers — and that time is right now.

When toast time happens, it’s somewhat of a relief. I get to focus on one small part of dinner — say, some really flavorful beans or a tangle of garlic-y greens — and know that all I have to do is spoon it over some great bread, and the meal is done. There’s no having to boil pasta, roast potatoes or cook up a pot of rice. Those things aren’t difficult, of course, but their routine-ness can sometimes feel burdensome.

So here are few recipes that I’ll be making to put all my bread to good use.

My favorite tactic is to cook up tender Swiss chard with garlic and then mix in grated cheese to bind everything into a “creamed spinach”-like pile that benefits from the super-crunchy bread beneath. In that similar vein, Maria Zizka’s recipe uses garlic and sage to amp up canned white beans on toast, spiked with vinegar.

Dawn Perry’s sheet pan sausages with cherry tomatoes and onions is the perfect meaty mélange to serve over toast, letting all the savory juices soak into the craggy, crisp crumb of the toast. And if I want that same meat-fat-soaked crispness from the start, I make Thea Baumann’s roast chicken and bread with fennel-arugula salad, which positions the bread slices under chicken pieces before going into the oven, where they crisp up in the poultry’s rendered fat — you’ve never had a more comforting bite of bread.

And if I want to make toast for lunch — or just go lighter on dinner — I’ll reach for classic pan con tomate, the Spanish dish of fresh tomato grated over warm, crusty bread, the toasted, jagged interior shredding the tomato flesh like garlic on a rasp. But instead of large tomatoes, I use really sweet cherry tomatoes — either the greenhouse-grown fresh kind or the canned variety — and simply mash them into the warm bread with a fork, allowing their juices to soak through the toast like a sponge before taking my first bite.


Swiss & Swiss Toasts With Spiked Radishes

If you have kale or spinach, use that in place of the Swiss chard leaves, but add a stalk or two of celery to take the place of the chard’s stems. If you don’t have Worcestershire sauce, use soy sauce, Dijon mustard or simply omit it and season the greens with lots of freshly ground black pepper.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 40 minutes

Swiss & Swiss Toasts with Spiked Radishes.
(Silvia Razgova / For The Times)

Smashed White Beans and Frizzled Sage Toast

When you drop a sage leaf into hot oil, it sputters, frizzles and becomes as crisp as a potato chip in a matter of seconds. As a bonus, the oil takes on the woodsy scent of sage and is brushed on the bread and mixed into the white beans for extra flavor.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 15 minutes.

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Sheet Pan Sausages With Cherry Tomatoes and Onions

All the cooking for this dish takes place in the oven and couldn’t be easier. You can even prepare the onions on the baking sheet in advance and refrigerate them for a day so you can throw them directly in the oven when you’re ready to start cooking. Use whatever sausages you like and swap in large wedges of ripe tomatoes if that’s all you have.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 40 minutes.

Sheet Pan Sausages With Cherry Tomatoes and Onions, with toasted bread.
(Silvia Razgova / For The Times)

Roasted Chicken and Bread With Fennel-Arugula Salad

This simple chicken dish basically looks after itself, with minimal attention needed from the cook. As the chicken roasts, it renders its fat and juices onto the bread below, which gets exceedingly crunchy — like a giant crouton. The acidic fennel and arugula salad lighten the chicken well, and the dish can be made with any salad greens you like.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 1 hour.

Roasted Chicken Legs With Fennel and Arugula Salad.
(Jennifer Chong / For The Times)

Pan con Tomate

Pan con tomate is bread, tomato, olive oil, salt and nothing else, so it’s important to get the best of each. Pan de cristal is traditional, but ciabatta results in a similar texture and is widely available here — you can also use a good sourdough or whatever bread you have. For the tomatoes, any really ripe, flavorful tomatoes will work.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 10 minutes.

Pan Con Tomate.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

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