One Bread, Two Ways

Pugliese from The Essential Baking Co.

One of the best things about Seattle neighborhoods are their local bakeries. The Essential Baking Companywas one of the first and is still one of the best bakeries I’ve tried around here. There are a few reasons I love Essential: fresh, local, organic ingredients, their variety, and how very *few* ingredients their breads have, with nothing unnecessary added — I want my everyday breads sturdy and simple.

I was so happy to find their pugliese at the Ballard Market one recent day. Pugliese is a traditional Italian wheat loaf with a porous, chewy interior and soft crust, dusted in flour. Out of just one loaf, I’ve made crostinis, sandwiches, and dessert toasts. Today I offer this One Bread, Two Ways.


WAY 1 :: Grilled Veggie Sandwich with Spinach Walnut Pesto  … 
It’s like having Summer back!

grilled veggie sandwich with spinach walnut pesto

This one is easy. Grill veggies with your favorite seasonings, olive oil, salt, & pepper. I made a pesto by starting with my Basil Pesto recipe, then replacing basil with baby spinach, and replacing pine nuts with walnuts. I then layered the pesto, the grilled veggies, mozzarella, and grilled the sandwich itself for a delicious lunch!


WAY 2 :: Caramelized Cardamom Banana Toast
Yum, what a brunch!

Caramelized Cardamom Banana Toast

This took bit of creativity and speed, and below I will share my detailed recipe. I always get a bit impatient working with bubbling sugar, but I also love a quick dish!

The combination came from my fond memories of eating bananas, Indian style, when growing up. They had ghee, sugar, and cardamom, and you ate them with a warm roti 🙂


I used:

  • two slices Pugliese
  • 1 sliced banana
  • 1 tbspn butter
  • two tspns dark brown sugar
  • couple of pinches ground cardamom
  • a sprinkle of chopped, toasted hazelnuts

My method:

1. Heat butter in a (non-stick preferred) pan, to medium heat.
2. Add sugar as soon as butter melts.
3. As soon as sugar melts, add a pinch of cardamom, and mix.
4. Put down the two slices of bread, and move them around a bit to coat.
5. As soon at the sugar sticks and the bread slices crisp a bit, flip them.
6. Let the other side crisp for another minute, and place it on the serving dish.
7. Leave your pan on the stove — you should have some sugar remaining, stuck in the pan.
8. Throw the banana slices in there, add another pinch of cardamom, and toss for a minute or two until they loosen *slightly* — do not overcook them! The bananas will brown slightly in the remaining sugar.
9. Place the bananas on the toast, sprinkle with hazelnuts, and eat right away!

You’ll have to work quickly, from as soon as the sugar melts till you’re finished. I recommend keeping all the ingredients handy!

If you are in Seattle and you have a chance, do pay a visit to one of the Essential Bakery Cafes as they have an excellent menu, coffee, and atmosphere “in the tradition of the old European coffeehouses and bakeries.” My personal favorite is on Madison. The Essential Baking Company also sells their breads and other goods at the Madison Market Co-op, Ballard Market, and in many cafes around town. Check out their site!