The toast phenomenon is alive and well in Seattle, and I’m not mad about it. Toast, as a food, is both disarmingly simple and eternally comforting. All it requires is a slice of crisped up bread and an ever-changing array of toppings. It’s a simple meal, so it demands a certain attention be payed to the ingredients. As Ina says, you’ll want to use only the best.
A fresh, crusty loaf of bread cut into slices at least an inch thick. Classic Caesar dressing with just the right amount of peppery tang. A generous layer—and then a little more—of aged white cheddar. And a blanket of perfectly poached, paper thin asparagus, woven together into a verdant little quilt and finished with freckles of sea salt. We eat with our eyes first, so why not be a little extra sometimes, you know?
Asparagus & White Cheddar Toast
• fresh bread (I used a rustic garlic loaf)
• Caesar dressing
• aged white cheddar
1. Start by poaching the asparagus. Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Add the asparagus and cook for two minutes.
2. While the asparagus cooks, prepare a bowl of ice water. After two minutes (the asparagus should be bright green and still holding its shape), use tongs to transfer the asparagus from the boiling water to the ice bath.
3. After the asparagus has cooled, lay it out on some paper towels and pat dry.
4. Using a mandolin, slice the asparagus as thin as you can with out it falling apart.
5. Weave the strips of asparagus together using an over-under pattern until you have a piece large enough to cover your toast, then trim off the edges so you’re left with a neat rectangle.
6. Cut a nice, thick piece of bread and toast it.
7. While it’s still warm, spread a generous layer of Caesar dressing over the toast.
8. Layer on a few pieces of cheese—you can use more or less to suit your taste—and pop the toast under the broiler for two or three minutes, until the cheese is nice and melty. Be sure to watch it carefully because it’ll burn quickly.
9. Top the cheesy toast with your woven asparagus and dust with a pinch of sea salt.
10. Eat while warm!
And there you have it: chic comfort food at its finest. Because the dishes that satisfy those cravings for warm, melty goodness can be beautiful, too.