Spread a simplified pesto on the bread, pile on grated Pepper Jack Cheese, pop into a hot oven for three to four minutes and, presto! Serve Pepper Jack cheese toast with coffee for a bright way to start your day.
What is simplified pesto? It’s just a term I coined—a mixture of olive oil, dried basil, garlic paste and herb salt. No chopping, no grinding, no lemon juice to squeeze. It takes just a minute to whip up and it’s the perfect base for these lovely toasted bread triangles.
If you’re wondering where the idea came from, well… A long time ago (in January of 2007), in a house not so far away (our old house), I wanted toast but didn’t feel like butter and jam. I wanted something hot from the oven but was too lazy to bake muffins or scones. Too lazy even to make some pancakes. I thought I’d have a salad with croutons. But not just any croutons but something spicy and really bursting with flavor. I reviewed the contents of the pantry and the fridge, started experimenting and came out with toast made with spicy cheese and a simplified pesto base.
I posted the recipe back then and I am updating it now. The difference between the old recipe and this one is the cheese. In 2007, I used Hickory Farms hot pepper cheese (I think the item has been discontinued or replaced), a gift from my sister-in-law. I don’t even remember now which sister-in-law. A few days ago, when I decided to remake the recipe and take new photos, I asked Speedy to buy Pepper Jack cheese which I really, truly adore.
Earlier today, after my first cup of coffee, I preheated the oven and started prepping the ingredients. Prep time was about seven minutes and cook time was a little over three minutes. Yes, that fast because it’s that easy. Preheating the oven took longer than the prepping.
If you want to make Pepper Jack cheese breakfast toast, you’ll need a few pantry staples. Dried basil (we keep a lot of dried herbs these days because Alex sells herb salts in various flavors), olive oil (I used extra virgin) and garlic paste (available in some groceries). If you don’t have garlic paste, you can use fresh garlic and just mince a couple of cloves. The prep time will be a little longer but I bet that the flavor and aroma will be so much more potent.
Can fresh basil be substituted for dried? Sure, but dry them well. If you rinse them without drying, all the extra moisture will make the bread soggy.
If you don’t have dried or fresh basil, olive oil or garlic, but you have a jar of pesto sitting around somewhere, you may use that. The toast will taste different though because pesto has lemon juice. That’s why I made a simplified version of pesto—I didn’t want lemon juice in my toast.
Pepper Jack Cheese Breakfast Toast
- 6 slices bread
- 1/8 teaspoon garlic paste (or 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced)
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons dried basil
- 3 generous pinches Italian Blend Herb Salt
- 125 grams Pepper Jack cheese shredded
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Line a baking sheet with non-stick paper or silicone mat.
- Cut off the crusts of the bread (optional) then cut each slice into two triangles. You may skip cutting the bread into triangles but I do like crunch. An uncut slice of bread has four sides whereas, if cut into two triangles, you get six sides of crispiness.
- In a bowl, mix the garlic paste, olive oil, basil and salt.
- Spread a scant teaspoonful of the basil mixture on each triangle of bread.
- Spread a tablespoonful of shredded Pepper Jack cheese on each piece of bread.
- Arrange the bread triangles on the prepared baking tray (make sure they don't touch one another so that all sides will get licked by the heat). Bake at 400F for three to four minutes or just until the cheese melts and the sides of the bread triangles are browned.
- Enjoy your Pepper Jack cheese breakfast toast with coffee.