Toast recipes to help you use up that loaf

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Every now and then I get a toast kick. It’s actually pretty regular since I love toast so much and eat it for breakfast pretty much every morning. But occasionally I change my toast habit to evenings for three to four dinners in a row. This is usually timed to allow a loaf to be used up before it goes stale – a common problem in LA, where the best loaves are often only available whole and larger than most toddlers – and right now that time has come .

When toast time comes, it’s a kind of relief. I can focus on a small portion of dinner — say, some really flavorful beans or a tangle of garlicky veggies — and know that all I have to do is spoon it over a great loaf of bread and the meal is ready. You don’t have to cook pasta, fry potatoes or cook a pot of rice. These things aren’t difficult, of course, but their routine can feel like a chore at times.

So here are a few recipes I’m going to make to put all my bread to good use.

My favorite tactic is to make tender garlic chard, then toss in shredded cheese to tie it all together in a “creamed spinach”-like pile that benefits from the super-crispy bread underneath. In that similar vein, Maria Zizka’s recipe uses garlic and sage to spice up canned kidney beans on toast spiked with vinegar.

Dawn Perry’s Sheet Metal Sausages with Cherry Tomatoes and Onions are the perfect meaty concoction for serving on toast, allowing all the savory juices to soak into the crisp, crispy crumb of toast. And when I want that same meaty crunch from the start, I make Thea Baumann’s Roast Chicken and Bread with Fennel and Arugula Salad, which places the slices of bread under chunks of chicken before going into the oven, where they’re crisped with the rendered fat of poultry — You’ve never eaten a more comforting bite of bread.

And when I want to make toast for lunch—or just lighter for dinner—I reach for the classic pan con tomate, the Spanish dish of fresh tomatoes grated over warm, crusty bread, the toasted, jagged interior shredding the tomato flesh Garlic on a grater. But instead of big tomatoes, I use really sweet cherry tomatoes — either the fresh greenhouse kind or the canned kind — and just mash them into the warm bread with a fork, letting their juice soak through the toast like a sponge before I it take my first bite.

Swiss & Swiss toasts with radishes

If you have kale or spinach, use those in place of the chard leaves, but add a stalk or two of celery to replace the stalks of the chard. If you don’t have Worcestershire sauce, use soy sauce, Dijon mustard, or just leave it out and season the veggies with plenty of freshly ground black pepper.
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Cooking time: 40 minutes

(Silvia Razgova / For the Time)

Smashed kidney beans and roasted sage toast

When you drop a sage leaf into hot oil, it squirts, curls and becomes as crispy as a potato chip in seconds. As a bonus, the oil takes on the woody scent of sage and is brushed onto the bread and blended into the kidney beans for added flavor.
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Cooking time: 15 minutes.

Sheet pan sausages with cherry tomatoes and onions

All of the cooking for this dish takes place in the oven and couldn’t be simpler. You can even prep the onions ahead of time on the baking sheet and refrigerate for a day so you can throw them straight into the oven when you’re ready to start cooking. Use your favorite sausage and swap out large chunks for ripe tomatoes if that’s all you’ve got.
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Cooking time: 40 minutes.

Baked sausages with cherry tomatoes and onions, served with toasted bread.

(Silvia Razgova / For the Time)

Roast chicken and bread with fennel and arugula salad

This easy chicken dish basically takes care of itself with minimal attention from the cook. As the chicken roasts, it sheds its fat and juices onto the bread underneath, which becomes extraordinarily crunchy—like a giant crouton. The sour fennel and arugula salad brightens up the chicken well, and the dish can be made with any leafy greens.
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Cooking time: 1 hour.

Roasted chicken drumsticks with fennel and arugula salad.

(Jennifer Chong / For the Times)

Pan con tomato

Pan con tomate is made with bread, tomato, olive oil, salt and nothing else, so it’s important to get the most out of each one. Pan de cristal is traditional, but ciabatta gives a similar texture and is common here – you can also use a good sourdough or other bread you have. All really ripe, aromatic tomatoes are suitable for the tomatoes.
Get the recipe.
Cooking time: 10 minutes.

Pan Con tomato.

(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

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