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Eric Akis: Toast to a simple savoury supper

Spread slices of toasted bread with goat cheese and top with sauteed mushrooms, prosciutto and balsamic crema, then add a side salad for tasty meal
Savoury toasts are deliciously topped with goat cheese, sautéed mushrooms, prosciutto and balsamic crema. ERIC AKIS

With slices of hearty bread and tangy, creamy B.C. goat cheese, you have the building blocks to create flavourful savoury toasts.

The next step is deciding what else to top them with.

I opted for Mediterranean-style ingredients, and began by sautéing sliced brown mushrooms in olive oil, and flavouring them with lemon juice, garlic, pepper flakes and basil.

When the mushrooms were done, I toasted my bread slices, which could be dense sprouted wheat, white or whole wheat bread. The toasted bread was then thickly spread with Salt Spring Island goat cheese, a fresh cheese sold at many supermarkets and fine food stores.

To finish the toasts, each slice, once plated, was topped with some of the mushrooms and a slice of prosciutto.

Everything was then drizzled with a bit of balsamic glaze. Balsamic glaze, also called balsamic crema and balsamic reduction, is an intense-tasting reduced balsamic vinegar mixture. It’s sold in the vinegar aisle or deli section of supermarkets and Italian/European-style food stores. You can also make your own balsamic glaze (see recipe Note 2 for details).

I served two toasts per person. You could serve the toasts for lunch or dinner, accompanied by an arugula salad — simply dressed with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper — a Caesar salad or a mixed green salad.

Goat Cheese Toasts with Mushrooms and Prosciutto

Mediterranean-style savoury toasts that could be served with a side salad for lunch or dinner.

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Cooking time: about 10 minutes

Makes: two servings

1 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 pound (about 16 to 18) small to medium brown mushrooms, thinly sliced

1/2 tsp dried basil or oregano

• salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

• pinch red pepper flakes

1 large garlic clove, minced

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1/2 cup (about 75 grams) Salt Spring Island goat cheese or other soft goat cheese

4 oval slices dense sprouted wheat, white or whole wheat bread (see Note 1)

4 paper-thin slices prosciutto

• balsamic glaze, to taste (see Note 2)

Place oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, basil (or oregano) and pepper flakes. Season the mushrooms with salt and pepper, then stir and cook until tender and the moisture seeping from them has evaporated, about five minutes. Add the garlic and lemon juice and cook one minute more. Remove skillet from the heat.

Set bread slices on a baking sheet (see Eric’s options). Set an oven rack six inches below your oven’s broiler. Preheat broiler to high. Broil bread, on both sides, until lightly toasted. Meanwhile, set the mushrooms back over medium-low heat and warm again.

Set two slices of the toast bread on each of two dinner plates. Spread the top of each piece of toast with goat cheese. Top each toast with some of the mushrooms and one slice of the prosciutto. Lightly drizzle each toast with some of the balsamic glaze, and serve.

Note 1: My bread slices were about 4 1/2- to 5-inches long and were from Wild Fire Bakery in Victoria. It’s also sold, sliced, at some local food stores, such as Pepper’s Foods and The Old Farm Market. You can, of course, also use your favourite type of dense bread in this recipe.

Note 2: Balsamic glaze, also called balsamic crema and balsamic reduction, is a reduced balsamic vinegar mixture sold at Italian/European-style food stores and at supermarkets. You can make your own glaze by simmering one cup of balsamic vinegar in a small pot until reduced to about 1/4 to 1/3 cup, or until lightly thickened and syrupy. Cool the glaze to room temperature, use what you need for the recipe, and store the rest away in a small, tightly sealing jar in your refrigerator until you need some again.

Eric’s options: If you have a four-slice toaster, you can, of course, toast the bread in it rather than under your oven’s broiler.

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Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.