The Cowgirl Chef: Dinner? It’s toast!

Posted Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014  comments  Print Reprints

More ways to top your toast

• Ricotta, fresh-chopped tomato, a drizzle of olive oil and torn basil

• Peanut butter and smashed banana with a swirl of honey

• Leftover salmon mixed with tapenade and a squeeze of lemon

• Grilled asparagus and a poached egg

• Melted cheddar and bacon

• Smoked salmon, avocado slices, dill and capers

• Mushrooms sauteed in garlic, tossed in fresh parsley, then heaped onto toast spread with goat cheese

• Croque madame tartines — ham and melted Gruyère, topped with a fried egg

• Butter, fleur de sel and thinly sliced radishes

• Nutella, sliced strawberries and chopped toasted hazelnuts

• Greek tartine — chopped cucumbers, Kalamata olives, tomatoes, fresh oregano and mint tossed with a bit of olive oil and red wine vinegar

• A wedge of French pate and sliced cornichons.

• Scrambled eggs with fresh chives

Back-to-school week!

Saturday: Supplies that stand out

Monday: Unique after-school activities

Tuesday: Ways to punch up lunch

Wednesday: Quick family dinner ideas

Thursday: Parents share first-day wisdom

Saturday: Redesigning dorm rooms

Sunday: Class projects making a difference

Tuna and smashed avocado tartines

Makes 2

• 1 (5.64-ounce) can tuna in olive oil, drained but not rinsed

• 1/2 cup fresh tomatoes, chopped

• 1 tablespoon capers

• Pinch red pepper flakes

• 2 leaves basil, torn

• 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

• 1 avocado

• 2 pieces sourdough bread, toasted

• 2 lime wedges, for serving

1. Gently mix tuna with chopped tomatoes, capers, red pepper flakes, basil and sea salt. Taste for seasonings.

2. Halve and pit avocado and smash half each on the toast pieces with a fork. Top with tuna mixture and serve with lime. (Just a squeeze really brightens this up.)

Nutritional analysis per serving: 334 calories, 17 grams fat, 22 grams carbohydrates, 25 grams protein, 24 milligrams cholesterol, 708 milligrams sodium, 4 grams dietary fiber, 45 percent of calories from fat.

Raspberry and ricotta tartines with maple syrup sauce

Makes 2

• 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Grade B maple syrup

• 1/2 cup ricotta

• 2 pieces sourdough bread, toasted

• 6 ounces raspberries

1. Pour 1/4 cup maple syrup in a saucepan over low heat and cook until it reduces by half. This will take about 15 minutes. Set aside.

2. Whisk ricotta with remaining 2 tablespoons maple syrup. Spread onto toast pieces. Add raspberries. Drizzle with syrup reduction and serve right away.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 328 calories, 3 grams fat, 65 grams carbohydrates, 12 grams protein, 25 milligrams cholesterol, 445 milligrams sodium, 6 grams dietary fiber, 8 percent of calories from fat.

Spanish spinach and chickpeas tartines

Makes 2

• 2 tablespoons olive oil

• 1 clove garlic, minced

• 2 cups chickpeas

• 1/2 teaspoon cumin

• 1/2 teaspoon Spanish paprika (sweet)

• 1/2 teaspoon powdered guajillo pepper

• 1/4 teaspoon salt

• 4 ounces fresh baby spinach

• 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar

• 2 pieces sourdough bread, toasted

Put olive oil and garlic in a skillet over medium and cook for a minute or two, just until you can smell the garlic. Add chickpeas, spices and salt and let cook until chickpeas are warmed through. Add spinach and stir until it just barely wilts. Pour in sherry vinegar and toss. Serve chickpea-spinach mixture on toast sprinkled with a bit more Spanish paprika and a drizzle of olive oil.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 476 calories, 19 grams fat, 61 grams carbohydrates, 19 grams protein, no cholesterol, 482 milligrams sodium, 8 grams dietary fiber, 35 percent of calories from fat.

Fig, prosciutto and goat cheese tartines

Makes 2

• 4-inch slice of a baguette, sliced in half

• 2 large figs

• 2 tablespoons fresh goat cheese

• 2 thin slices prosciutto or serrano ham

1. Preheat broiler. Toast baguette pieces and set aside.

2. Tear figs in half, then quarters, and lay on top of toasted bread, insides up. Top with goat cheese and broil until cheese melts.

3. Add ham and serve warm.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 192 calories, 5 grams fat, 29 grams carbohydrates, 9 grams protein, 12 milligrams cholesterol, 520 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber, 22 percent of calories from fat.

Pesto, shredded chicken and smoked mozzarella tartines

Makes 2

• 2 tablespoons basil pesto

• 2 pieces Italian-style bread, toasted

• 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken, or leftover chicken

• 2 (1/4-inch slices) smoked mozzarella, torn into smallish pieces

• Basil, for garnish (optional)

1. Preheat broiler. Put 1 tablespoon basil pesto on each piece of toast. Add chicken and scatter pieces of mozzarella on top.

2. Slide under the broiler and cook until bubbly. Serve right away with a few torn pieces of basil.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 283 calories, 12 grams fat, 14 grams carbohydrates, 27 grams protein, 66 milligrams cholesterol, 369 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber, 40 percent of calories from fat.

Have more to add? News tip? Tell us

What do you make when you’re salad-weary but still want to eat something light — and you’re not in the mood to cook a meal for the family after a long day at work (and perhaps shuttling the kids around, too)?

Toast! Or tartines if you happen to be in France. Bruschetta in Italy. Call it what you will, an open-faced sandwich can be the holder of whatever you’re in the mood for. Quick to put together, these toasted creations allow you to be in and out of the kitchen before you know it.

The great thing about tartines (which sounds so much more appealing than “open-faced sandwiches”) is they make as much sense for a family as they do for a single gal like me. There’s little, if any, waste, and they can be made at the last minute, an especially good thing when you’ve already got too much on your proverbial plate.

My favorite go-to dinner when I’m really out of time? Smashed avocado on toast with a sprinkle of fleur de sel and a drizzle of pistachio oil, which takes this rather mundane-sounding combination into a whole other world. (Yes, pistachio oil is a bit pricey, but it’s worth every penny — if you can’t find it, try hazelnut oil. It’s lovely, too.)

Growing up, my dad sometimes (OK, rarely) made dinner, and when he did, it was always fried egg sandwiches. Just eggs, fried in butter, served between two pieces of toast. Every time I make this — a slimmed-down, open-faced version — I think of my dad and me sitting at the kitchen table with this very simple sandwich, made with love.

Which is what eating together is all about, anyway. We don’t have to get all fancy or complicated. Sitting down without anything but each other and what’s on the plate in front of us. No phones, no photos, no Instagram. Imagine that.

Ellise Pierce is the Cowgirl Chef and author of “Cowgirl Chef: Texas Cooking With a French Accent” (Running Press, $25).; @cowgirlchef.

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