By Kathryn McLean

Whether you have a tomato from your neighbour’s garden, a basket of local tomatoes from a farmer’s market, or simply a ripe tomato on the counter from your last trip to the grocery store, try serving them sliced on grilled toast with olive oil and sea salt.

Topping an oiled toast, or bruschetta, with a spoonful of vegetables creates a simple and delicious dish: mushrooms (grilled, roasted or sauteed on the stove) are a great option.

A few remaining green beans, quickly steamed or stewed in some sauce, can top a few slices of toast. Do you have some leftover corn? Toss it with a little oil, salt and pepper and spoon it over the toast.

Any vegetable you have can be put to work as a bruschetta topping: eggplant, bok choy, kale, zucchini, peppers. Even sturdier vegetables like turnip, sweet potato or radish  once cooked or pickled can be placed on a crispy oiled toast.

Most vegetables will work, but it’s usually best to use a cooked version, so simply prepare your choices ahead of time. Room temperature or cold toppings are fine.

Try roasting cauliflower or broccoli and using them as another option.

And don’t feel like you have to make a trip to the store for an armful of fresh vegetables; using what you already have is perfect. A platter of oiled toasts with assorted toppings helps use up the last of the vegetables in your fridge or garden, and allows you to try different toppings, especially since everyone at the table probably doesn’t like all the same things!

To make the toast, a fresh crusty loaf is best but any bread will do. If you have a grill, I recommend toasting the bread on the grill for the best flavour, but again, any method will do, whether it’s a standard two-slice toaster or a tray of bread under the broiler.

Simply drizzle the bread with a little olive oil or brush the oil on the slices with a pastry/basting brush. Then toast the bread on both sides.

Consider chopping a few sprigs of fresh herbs (basil, parsley, mint) for sprinkling over the top, or rubbing a peeled clove of garlic across the toast to give a hint of added flavour.

Top each toast with sliced or chopped fresh tomatoes, or any prepared vegetable of your choice, add a sprinkle of sea salt, and enjoy.

Yes, it is September and back-to-school season, but we don’t need to rush to pack up the grill or the summer produce before autumn truly arrives.