From the Motherland is a series in which I pay homage to my Ukrainian heritage and share my favorite childhood recipes. (This post has been updated from its original June 2016 version.)
Contrary to popular belief, French toast isn’t just a vessel for powdered sugar and maple syrup. Growing up, we used to eat “grenki” (Russian-style savory French toast) quite regularly – basically whenever we had stale bread that needed using up.
Mother’s Day (here in the US) is this weekend, so I’m sharing this recipe in honor of my amazing mom, who is single-handedly responsible for sparking my curiosity about cooking and teaching me to appreciate homemade food.
When I was a kid, savory French toast was one of her weekend breakfast go-to’s. She makes her “grenki” with pillowy Russian bread, which makes for a soft, custardy French toast with golden edges. She then slathers each slice with a thin coat of mayo and finishes it with a flurry of grated cheese.
Since I avoid dairy, my version of the custard calls for eggs and oat milk (or any unsweetened non-dairy milk, really). If you want to make this totally vegan, check out the flaxseed meal method, which I developed for The Kitchn (it works shockingly well!).
I’ve done away with the cheese as well and sprinkle my toast with nutritional yeast, which delivers a similarly cheesy spirit. Lastly, I’ve also added a tomato-basil salad to my version, which really completes the meal.
If you are one of the many people who’ve adopted bread-baking as your official quarantine hobby – whether you’re exploring the complicated world of sourdough and sticking to the famous no-knead variety – this savory French toast recipe is for you. It’s the perfect way to use up bread that’s past its prime, or even that loaf that’s come out less than perfect (hey, it happens to the best of us).
This savory French toast with Dijon mayo, nutritional yeast, and tomato-basil salad is a great way to use up leftover sourdough bread.
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup unsweetened unflavored non-dairy milk (I recommend Oatly)
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 6 1/3”-thick slices sourdough, ciabatta, or other crusty, country-style bread
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- About 5 basil leaves, cut into thin strips
- 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- Nutritional yeast, for sprinkling
- In a shallow bowl, beat together the eggs and milk with pinches of salt and pepper until thoroughly combined.
- Heat about 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Working with one piece at a time, soak the bread in the egg mixture for a few seconds on each side until saturated but not soggy. Place in the skillet and repeat with the remaining slices, cooking the toast in batches in a single layer. Fry until golden brown, 2-3 minutes per side.
- Meanwhile, place the tomatoes and basil in a bowl and toss with a pinch of salt and a drizzle of oil.
- In a small bowl, stir together the mayo, mustard, and a pinch of pepper.
- To serve, slather the mayo mixture on the toasts, sprinkle with nutritional yeast, and top with the tomato-basil mixture.
- Serving Size: 1/2 of the recipe
- Calories: 515
Keywords: french toast, bread, vegetarian, tomato, russian