My Idea of Brunch: Quick Mozzarella Tomato Toast
March 31, 2019
My students are always asking me to tell them what quick and easy recipes I make to eat at home. On the way home from the gym this morning, I decided I was in the mood for perfectly melted mozzarella on toast. I walked in the door and went to work. Ten minutes and minimal effort later, I was eating this.
Agreed I had the perfect ingredients waiting for me in my fridge or freezer, but this is just a question of thinking ahead. Once you stock your pantry, all you need is a knife, a toaster, and an appetite. It starts with great bread. For me, it was a slice of Bread Alone Rye Sourdough. I freeze fresh-sliced bread and pull out a slice or two when I need it. (If I don't freeze it, I wind up throwing out most of the loaf.) You can defrost it for 10 seconds on 50 percent power in the microwave and then toast. Or pop it, frozen, directly into the toaster, and just let it go for a few seconds longer. While the bread is in the toaster, slice a plum tomato into 1/4" slices and sprinkle generously with coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly-ground black pepper. The pre-salting does a lot do refresh winter tomatoes.
Once the bread is toasted to your liking, transfer it to the toaster tray (covered with aluminum foil for ease of clean up off course.) Top with a slice or two of fresh mozzarella and continue to toast so that the cheese is just melted. Transfer to a plate and top it with the tomatoes. If you happen to have pesto in your fridge or freezer as I do (see Secrets to Success for tips on storing pesto), smear a little on the mozzarella before adding the tomatoes. If not, you can always tear a few basil leaves from your window sill plant or the hydroponic bunch that you bought at Whole Foods and sprinkle them over the top. The final touch is a careful glug of olive oil drizzled over the top. Suddenly ten minutes of effort looks like a trip to a trendy brunch spot. Buon Appetito!
Secrets to Success:
Start with great bread. A hearty sourdough or grainy wheat bread are my favorites.
In winter, always use plum tomatoes.
Pre-salting helps make winter tomatoes, juicier.
In summer, experiment with your favorite varieties.
To freeze homemade pesto: freeze in ice cube trays until solid. Pop out and store in a zip-loc or other freezer-safe container. Defrost at room temperature or in the microwave before using.
The best way to store basil: in a glass of water in the refrigerator like flowers. However, the hydroponic basil sold in the plastic boxes keeps best at room temperature in its original packaging.
Fresh mozzarella has such a short shelf life. So keep it for 5-7 days only.
Use high-quality olive oil. I like Fairway Extra-Virgin.
Store your olive oil in a bottle with a spout. Not only will you use less, but it will give you extra control when pouring onto your plate.
Some delicious additions: prosciutto, fried or poached egg, sliced avocado, fresh or roasted peaches, hot pepper flakes.
Quick Mozzarella Tomato Toast
1 or 2 slices good bread
1 or 2 plum tomatoes, washed and sliced into 1/4-inch slices
Kosher or Sea Salt
Freshly-ground black pepper
2-4 slices of fresh mozzarella or frozen, defrosted
a tablespoon or two of basil pesto, preferably homemade, or torn fresh basil leaves
a glug or two of good olive oil
a basil sprig for garnish, optional
Toast the bread until desired doneness. While the bread is toasting, sprinkle the tomatoes generously with salt and pepper. Transfer the toasted bread to your toaster tray covered with foil. Top with the cheese and put the tray in the toaster. Continue to toast until the cheese is just melted. Transfer to a plate, smear with a little pesto, if using, and top with the tomatoes. Alternatively, sprinkle torn fresh basil leaves over the tomatoes. Add a glug of olive oil and garnish with a basil sprig if using. Serves 1-2.