Savory French Toast with Caprese Relish

Weekends are for lazy mornings and decadent breakfasts and brunches. How do you manage both? By embracing meals that are simple and take advantage of what's fresh and lovely now. This time of the year, that means using those gloriously ripe tomatoes that are gracing our gardens, markets, and farm side stands. And since I'm rather a fan of the concept of bruschetta -- topping really lovely toasted bread with amazing things -- it seems high time for a breakfast twist: savory French toast.

Most of you have only had French toast drizzled with maple syrup and fresh fruit and, while that's lovely, there's a lot more to enjoy about the dish. Add a little grated sharp cheese during the cooking process and make a Caprese salad-inspired relish and you've got the makings of a meal you'll be craving morning, noon, and night. Fortunately, no one wrote a rule that says you can't do exactly that!

Toss together the relish first, so the flavors have a little time to marry in the bowl and so you can be ready to top that French toast just as soon as it is ready to eat. Trust me, the flavors and aromas in this meal are enough to have you beyond ready to do just that.

I like to take this plate to either a sunny room inside or, if the weather cooperates, out on the patio table along with a mug of coffee. That's it. You can opt for fruit or muffins or any of the other traditional breakfast or brunch accompaniments, but when the food is this perfect, I like to just focus on it and the moment of the season that's made it possible.

Savory French Toast with Caprese Relish

  • 1 c. mixed chopped tomatoes
  • 5 large basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • 2-3 oz. torn fresh mozzarella - I used marinated mozzarella
  • 1-2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 T. balsamic vinegar
  • 3 eggs
  • ⅓ c. heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Cooking fat, for frying
  • 8 slices hearty bread - I used a sundried tomato loaf for this
  • 8 tsp. grated sharp cheddar, divided
  • Basil leaves, for garnish - optional

To make the Caprese relish, combine the tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, oil, and vinegar in a bowl. Taste and add salt and/or pepper as needed; set aside.

In a shallow dish, carefully whisk the eggs, heavy cream, and salt to form a custard. Set aside.

Heat a griddle to medium-high heat and add the cooking fat of your choice. Dip each slice of bread into the egg mixture, making sure it's coated well on both sides. I like to poke the bread a bit with a fork to really allow the egg mixture to soak in. Place the bread slices on the hot griddle, sprinkle the side facing up evenly with a teaspoon of grated cheddar, and fry, turning after 2-3 minutes. Allow the other side a similar time frying and remove to a plate to keep warm.

To serve, place the French toast crispy cheese side up and spoon the Caprese relish over the top. Garnish with additional basil leaves, if desired.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes