It’s officially Sourdough September, a month-long celebration of all things sourdough. Sourdough is bread which is naturally leavened (risen) thanks to the power of microbes. It’s made without additives or baker’s yeast and with just three ingredients: flour, water and salt. Lactic acid bacteria and wild yeasts which are naturally present in the flour and surrounding environment consume the sugars in the flour, producing gases and acids (a process known as fermentation) which leaven the bread and give it a distinctive sour flavour.
You may have heard claims that sourdough is healthier than other types of bread. It’s difficult to study the potential health benefits of sourdough because each loaf is unique in terms of its microbes, flour and ecosystem. However, several studies have found that sourdough fermentation can unlock some of the nutrients in bread which may help with absorption. There’s also research to show that sourdough fermentation reduces the glycemic index of bread, which could help you feel fuller longer. Lastly, some individuals find sourdough bread easier on their gut (triggering less discomfort) than other types of bread.
Health benefits aside, genuine sourdough has a delicious flavour and is a brilliant base for a quick meal. Here are four toppings for sourdough toast, which is ideal when your bread is a day or two old.
Breakfast Recipe - Pan Con Tomate
This is a Spanish dish, which literally translates as bread with tomato. It’s incredibly simple to make, super delicious and a brilliant way to use up late summer tomatoes and day old bread. Use the best quality tomatoes you can for the best flavour.
Gut benefits: Olive oil and garlic act as prebiotics, encouraging the growth of helpful bacteria in the gut.
Makes 4 slices
- 2 large ripe tomatoes
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic
- 4 thick slices sourdough
- Slice a thin piece off the bottom of each tomato. Use a box grater to grate the tomato into a bowl, leaving behind the skin (which can be added to a tomato sauce, curry or stock). Season the tomato pulp and stir through a tablespoon of olive oil.
- Drizzle a little oil over each slice of sourdough and griddle. You want to make the bread very crispy as it will soften when it soaks up the tomato. Once griddled, rub a garlic clove over each warm slice of sourdough
- Spoon the tomato over the top of each slice of toast, allow it to soak up the tomato juice and serve
Lunch - Smashed Peas with Pickled Radish & a Jammy Egg
This dish is perfect for days when you’re at home and want a quick and nutritious lunch that will keep you feeling satisfied through the afternoon. The radish pickle is optional but adds a super tang, and you can store any extra pickles in the fridge to add to salads and sandwiches.
Gut benefits: Peas are a great source of fibre, which helps prevent constipation and feeds your gut microbes. Herbs like basil and mint are rich in polyphenols, plant compounds which also help your beneficial gut microbes to thrive.
Serves 1 generously
- 1 cup frozen peas
- Drizzle olive oil
- Zest and juice from half a lemon
- Handful mint and basil
- 1 large free-range egg
- 1 slice sourdough
For the quick pickled radish
- 2 radishes (or more if you want leftovers!)
- 1 tbsp vinegar
- Tsp sugar
- Pinch salt
- Thinly slice the radish, place in a bowl with the vinegar, sugar and a pinch of salt. Toss and set to one side.
- Bring a pan of water to the boil. Lower in your egg and cook for 7 minutes then transfer to a bowl of cold water for 2 minutes to stop it cooking and keep a ‘jammy’ yolk. If your egg is smaller, try 6.5 minutes instead.
- Blanch the frozen peas in boiling water for 1-2 minutes then drain
- Briefly blitz the peas with the mint, basil, lemon juice and zest, a drizzle of olive oil and seasoning. You want a chunky mash, so don’t over-blend. Alternatively smash all the ingredients together with a potato masher.
- Toast or griddle your sourdough. Pile on the pea mix, peel the egg, slice in half and arrange on top of the peas. Load over some of the radish pickles and enjoy!
Dinner - Slow Cooked Courgette with Garlic and Ricotta
Slow cooking courgettes gives a richness that isn’t achieved with faster cooking methods. Once you try it, you might not return to cooking them any other way. Piled high on toast with creamy ricotta, this is a quick vegetarian dinner that is delicious and simple.
- 1 green courgette
- 1 yellow courgette
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Zest and juice from half a lemon
- 200g whipped ricotta
- 2 slices sourdough
- Slice the courgettes into rounds about a one pound coin thickness. Slice the garlic thinly.
- Heat the oil in a large heavy bottomed pan, add the courgettes and garlic and fry gently for around 20 minutes stirring occasionally until they are collapsing. Season at the end of cooking.
- Whip the ricotta with the lemon zest and juice in a stand mixer or beat together in a bowl using a whisk until it’s fluffy.
- Toast or griddle your sourdough, spread over some of the ricotta, load over the courgettes and top with a few basil leaves.
Sweet - Fancy ‘Jam on Toast’
Let’s call this an upgraded jam on toast. Try for breakfast, brunch or a sweet snack. You can switch out the ricotta for nut butter or cream cheese, both of which are equally delicious.
- 8 ripe apricots
- 200g raspberries
- Drizzle honey
- Juice and rind of 1 orange
- 250g ricotta, cream cheese or even thick yoghurt
- 4 slices sourdough
- Heat your oven to 180c. Stone the apricots and throw them into a baking pan with a drizzle of honey and the juice and rind of an orange.
- Cook the apricots for about 20 minutes until super soft and squishy - this may be nearer 30 minutes depending on how ripe they are to begin with. Just before the end of the cooking time, throw in the raspberries, give the pan a good shake and return to the oven for a couple of minutes then shake the fruits together.
- Whip the ricotta in a stand mixer or beat with a whisk in a bowl until it’s fluffy
- Griddle or toast your sourdough. Spread some ricotta onto each slice, load over the fruit, drizzle over any juices and a little honey if liked. Serve straight away.
Ribet, L., Dessalles, R., Lesens, C., Brusselaers, N., & Durand-Dubief, M. (2023). Nutritional benefits of sourdoughs: A systematic review. Advances in Nutrition, 14(1), 22–29. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.advnut.2022.10.003.