Because toast posts > pumpkin spice lattes any day of the week.
Even in the fall, because I know the PSL’s are in full swing – I myself have refrained thus far, and will continue to do so until October; September is reserved for chai and chai only.
So, this toast: as usual, there are a few components to this (the hallmark of my recipes by now: components!), all of them incredibly simple and involving small amounts of time. What you see before you is:
- Baguette, sliced and oven-toasted
- White beans puréed with a few tasty things
- Crispy oven-roasted kale
Nothing to it, right? Seriously, bake those toasts, fry that bacon, whirl that bean puree, crisp those kale leaves. Done. Cozy toast for a Tuesday afternoon, or a pretty great alternative to that chicken wing dip appetizer you internally gag at the thought of even though football season has barely begun.
Except: easy recipes usually involve doing things correctly, and this one is no different. As always, watch your toast carefully, because a minute here or there can mean the difference between perfect and ruined toast. I’ll note also that this is the first time I’ve successfully made kale in the oven that isn’t soggy: it’s crispy like the chips (and could indeed be used just as chips, if you’d like). The secret is twofold: first, you must dry the kale. not sort of dry it, not mostly dry it, it needs to be dry like the desert. I double-dry: first before I chop, then again post-chop, and it seems to do the trick. secondly, you must thoroughly coat the kale in a very small amount of olive oil, which takes patience and time on your part. Time, because it’s always going to take a while getting a small amount of something onto a big amount of something. Patience, because tossing curly kale with a spoon is remarkably like tossing baby lop-eared bunnies with a spoon: much fluffy. Use the folding motion you would use if you were making an angel food cake and folding in the egg whites and you should be good.
And it is, too…there’s a brightness in the bean puree from a little lemon and some parsley, and it gives the relative darkness of the kale and the bacon a nice lift: the combo is superb together. Also, it doesn’t fall all over the place with the first bite: the bean puree, aside from being delightful, does a wonderful job of holding the baguette and the kale/bacon combo together. Everything stays intact, and you won’t make a mess.
Serve these at room temperature: no rush to get them out or burn your fingers doing so, because they’ll be great whenever you get them finished and plated. You can even make the components ahead of time: just remember (especially with the bean puree, which you will need to refrigerate if kept overnight) to bring everything back up to room temperature prior to assembly.
That’s it! Toast posts are always short, because there’s just nothing to them, and that’s what makes them so lovely. Now go and enjoy your exceedingly perfect fall day.
All parts of this recipe are the result of me freestyling. Inspired by my 50˚F cloudy morning.
Crispy Kale + Bacon Toasts with Lemony White Bean Purée
Makes 24 pieces
for the toast:
- 1 French baguette, sliced diagonally into 1/2 in slices
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, for brushing
- sea salt
for the white bean purée:
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon shallot, minced
- 1 small clove garlic, minced
- 1 14.5-oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 tablespoons parsley leaves, firmly packed
- juice of 2 medium lemons
- sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
for the crispy kale:
- 1 bunch curly kale, thick stems removed, torn or chopped into pieces (keeping in mind that kale drastically reduces in size when cooked, so not too small) and thoroughly dried
- 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
- sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
and then there’s:
- 8 oz good-quality, thick-cut peppered bacon (or not peppered, but that’s up to you), chopped into 1-inch pieces
So here’s my suggestion on how to prepare these: Obviously do them in the order I list them, but make the bacon and then the bean puree parallel to making the toast and kale. If you turn the stove on for the bacon at the same time as you turn on the oven for the toast and proceed from there, everything should come together perfectly at the end.
Toast the toast:
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Brush a little olive oil on both sides of each slice and set on a lipped baking sheet: your slices can be close together, but keep them in a single layer. Bake until toasted on both sides, about 15 minutes (this depends on your bread, so keep watch), flipping at the 10-minute mark. Remove from the oven and transfer the toast to a wire rack to cool.
Crisp that kale:
Increase the oven temperature to 375˚F. In a large bowl, thoroughly toss the kale pieces like it’s your job until coated. Season with salt and pepper and spread onto a lipped half sheet pan – oh! maybe the one you just used to make the toast on would be good. See how I saved you a pan there? And lt.’s already oiled for you. Spread that kale out in a single layer and roast for 15-20 minutes, tossing 2 times during cooking to get them evenly crisped. Once the look all dark and crispy, remove and set aside to cool.
Fry that bacon:
What instructions can I give you? Add a little oil if you wish to a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the bacon and cook until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-covered plate to drain.
Make that purée:
In (the same!) large skillet (wiped clean of bacon fat*), add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add the shallots, stirring until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, stirring for another 30 seconds until fragrant; remove from heat.
Add the rinsed and drained cannellini beans to the bowl of a food processor. Add the shallots, garlic, and their oil to the bowl. Add the parsley leaves and lemon juice and pulse until blended. With the motor on, stream in the remaining olive oil until smooth. You’re looking for it to be spread-like, but not pasty at all: smooth like a good hummus would be. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Assemble those toasts:
Spread approximately 1 teaspoon of white bean purée on each toast. Top with crispy kale and bacon, and season as needed (if you’ve seasoned everything up to this point, you may not need to do any further seasoning) with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
If you’re making the components ahead (and I wouldn’t suggest doing this any more than one day ahead, although the white bean purée stores well for several days), store separately in airtight containers at room temperature (kale, toast) or refrigerated (bacon, bean purée).
*You may be wondering why I have you draining perfectly lovely bacon fat out of a pan, only to add more in to make the purée. My answer? Because this is a light, bright set of flavors which doesn’t need the heft of bacon fat involved, at least in my opinion. If you can’t bear the thought of doing this, keep the bacon fat and use that as your oil, but it’s going to change that lemony sunshine of a purée a bit.