Back when I was a college student, one thing I would make to feed myself was pumpkin toast. A thick cut piece of bread that is toasted, and topped with sweetened miso paste, roasted kabocha squash/pumpkin, and goat cheese. You got toasty, crunchy, a little sweet, tangy, it was just a pleasant bite all around and something that makes me back to fall in Boston. So I wanted to remake that recipe, but with a little fun twist to it! Back in 2017, I was at Izakaya Hachi, a restaurant in SoCal, where they served me uni toast. It was slices of baguette with a creamy uni mixture on top that was broiled to perfection! So I kind of want these pumpkin toasts to be an homage to both experiences, by making this creamy pumpkin/kabocha gratin mixture that will be broiled on top of slices of toast, and then the usually garnishes I would originally do would go on top of that to finish! Hilariously enough, what prompted me to revisit this recipe all of these years later was my friend Brenda. She gifted me with several Vietnamese baguettes a year ago during a Thanksgiving party, and I literally had no idea what to do with them back then. So when I was emptying out my freezer, I found the baguettes, and figured, why not make toast with them? The end result was this super crunchy bread, cream pumpkin, and all sorts of fun toppings to make it a very addictive eating experience! I inhaled 2 baguettes’ worth of toast, so needless to say, it was an effective way to utilize those Vietnamese baguettes!
For the components, we have a gratin made with miso, honey, and kabocha squash. Kabocha squash is similar to a butternut squash in that they are very pumpkin-like, and you can sub out the kabocha with basically any kind of pumpkin with similar results. I just prefer kabocha because it is available year-round and is on the smaller side, so you won’t end up with an excess of pumpkin gratin. The gratin is broiled on top of the toast to get these bruleed, creamy, umami bombs topped with super crunchy bread. For the other garnishes, we have roasted slivers of kabocha squash, toasted pepitas, crumbled goat cheese, and miso-honey-soy glaze. The glaze is brushed onto both the roasted squash and the gratin, just to give both a nice caramelized exterior. Hilariously that is a trick I used to use to get duck skin golden brown, and it worked quite nicely here to add a layer of smokiness and creaminess to the pumpkin toast that makes it almost meaty in flavor!
For the miso pumpkin gratin topping:
3/4 of a kabocha squash, quartered
1 tsp neutral flavored oil
a pinch of salt
1 tbsp red miso paste
4 tbsp kewpie mayonnaise
1 tbsp honey
Spread kabocha squash onto a lined sheet tray and drizzle with oil and salt. Roast at 375 degrees F for 40 minutes. Then scoop out the flesh of the squash and whisk with the other ingredients to form your topping. Refrigerate until time to toast.
1/4 of a kabocha squash
neutral flavored oil
a pinch of salt
Spread the kabocha squash on a lined sheet tray and drizzle on oil and salt. Roast at 375 degrees F for 25 minutes. Gently peel the rinds off the squash, brush with the miso-honey glaze, then sprinkle on the pepitas. Bake at 375 degrees F for another 10 minutes, just to get the pepitas toasty. For the goat cheese, crumble it into smaller pieces and keep refrigerated. You can also omit the goat cheese or sub out with feta with lemon zest if that’s more preferable for you!
For the miso-honey glaze
1/4 cup honey
1 tbsp mirin
1 tsp red miso paste
1 tbsp soy sauce
Mix ingredients together.
For the toast:
1 French or Vietnamese baguette
neutral flavored oil
Cut the baguette on a bias into 1 inch-thick slices. Drizzle on oil and toast the slices in the oven on an un-lined sheet tray on the broiler setting, flipping the slices to guarantee both sides are browned. Scoop about 2 tbsp of gratin topping on top of the slices, brush the gratin portion with your glaze, and broil for 2-3 minutes, until the top is brown. Garnish the top of the gratin with your squash slices, pepitas, and goat cheese to finish.