This savoury French toast recipe makes classic French toast – fried bread that’s been soaked in a beaten egg and milk mixture – flavoured with garlic, onion, sea salt, pepper, and a little chilli, piled with pan-fried cherry tomatoes, feta cheese and fragrant dill. It’s a fabulous weekend breakfast, brunch or lunch dish.
If you enjoyed my Russian French toast recipe for grenki which my baboushka used to make me for school holiday breakfasts as a child, then you’ll love this savoury French toast recipe. If you haven’t had savoury French toast before – which our British friends call eggy bread – don’t be surprised if you become addicted.
Consider this a bonus Weekend Eggs recipe, so if today you made Terence’s Japanese rolled omelette recipe for tamagoyaki, which we love to eat between thick slices of Japanese bread on a tamago sando or Japanese egg sandwich, then on Sunday morning you can use more of that Japanese bread you bought or baked to make this savoury French toast recipe.
If you haven’t visited us here at Grantourismo in some time, we rebooted our Weekend Eggs series on breakfast eggs dishes from around the world which we started over a decade ago when we launched Grantourismo.
Recipes we’ve published in the new series include scrambled eggs with sauteed mushrooms on sourdough, soft scrambled eggs with Chinese pork and chives, Indian egg bhurji, Chinese marbled tea eggs, corn fritter breakfast burgers, Russian devilled eggs, Turkish çılbır poached eggs and menemen scrambled eggs, Calabria’s ‘eggs in purgatory’ with ’nduja, Thai son-in-law eggs, Thai omelette kai jiaw, Cambodian steamed eggs, and Singapore and Malaysia’s half-boiled eggs with kaya jam and toast.
Before I tell you all about this savoury French toast recipe, I have a favour to ask. Grantourismo is reader-funded. If you’ve cooked our recipes and liked them, please consider supporting Grantourismo by using our links to purchase travel insurance, hire a car or campervan or motorhome, book accommodation, or book a tour on Klook or Get Your Guide. You could also browse our online shop for gifts for food lovers, including fun reusable cloth face masks designed with Terence’s photos.
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Savoury French Toast Recipe With Pan-Fried Cherry Tomatoes, Feta Cheese and Fresh Herbs
French toast didn’t start out French at all. Although of course the French made what the British call ‘eggy bread’ their own and named it pain perdu or ‘lost bread’ as it was made with stale bread. The oldest French toast recipe is in the Roman recipe book Apicius, dating to the 1st century, which says to: “Break [slice] fine white bread, crust removed, into rather large pieces which soak in milk [and beaten eggs] fry in oil, cover with honey and serve”.
During the 14th and 15th century there were French toast recipes in German, French and Italian cookbooks. I grew up thinking French toast was Russian and called grenki, because my baboushka made it for me when I stayed with my Russian grandparents during school holidays.
It wasn’t until mum made it at home that I learnt it was called French toast and then dad began a tradition of making it for mum for her birthday and mother’s day. Dad also made it on camping trips, generally on the last morning before we hit the road for home, to use up leftover sausages and onions.
Just as sweet French toast can be treated like normal toast and spread with jams, fruit preserves, honey, golden syrup, and so on, savoury French toast can be eaten with anything that you’d put on ordinary toast, such as ham and cheese, avocado and poached eggs, smoked salmon and sour cream…
My dad cooked savoury French toast on camping trips which he served with fried eggs and sausages barbecued over an open fire. My Russian side of the family topped French toast with bacon and fried mushrooms cooked like these – or you could try Terence’s sauteed mushrooms.
For this savoury French toast recipe, I recommend you pile on plenty of pan-fried cherry tomatoes, feta cheese and fragrant dill, but you can really use any fresh herbs – basil works, parsley is okay too – and any melty cheese of your liking. Try mozzarella.
The French toast is made savoury by seasoning the eggs and milk when you beat them together with a whisk. I’ve used sea salt, coarsely ground black pepper, garlic powder and onion powder, and a little chilli (or paprika) to give it a kick, but you can really use any seasoning you like. Experiment!
Tips to Making This Savoury French Toast Recipe
I only have a few tips to making this savoury French toast recipe as it’s really very easy. I used thick fluffy white Japanese bread for my savoury French toast. You need a soft white bread to soak up the egg mixture. As much as we love our sourdough, it won’t work for this.
While it’s thought that French toast was invented to use up old bread, and it’s true that stale bread, which is firmer, will ensure it doesn’t break up, fresh white bread (handled carefully) simply tastes better, and a thick Japanese bread shouldn’t break apart as long as you don’t over-soak it.
The milk and egg mixture is sometimes called a ‘custard’ in old cookbooks, but this does not mean that it has the consistency of a custard. All you need to do is to whisk or beat the egg and milk together with a fork, whisk or hand-beater to ensure it’s consistent.
Soak your bread just long enough for the milk and egg mixture to soak through, but don’t let it sit in the mixture forever as it will go mushy and break apart. Around 30 seconds a side should be enough. Use a wide spatula or fish slice to transfer the bread to the pan. Don’t use tongs as they’ll leave dents on the bread.
Some savoury French toast recipes recommend using olive oil. I suggest you splash a little quality virgin olive oil on your cooked tomatoes instead and fry your bread in a neutral cooking oil instead as it results in crispier French toast.
Also ensure you’ve pre-heated the frying pan and that it’s nice and hot for crispiness and also so that the toast cooks through. If the pan is not hot enough then the interior of the toast will remain soggy.
I like to fry my French toast until it’s dark brown and has a little crunch to it, but take it off the pan when it suits you. Be generous with the cherry tomatoes, feta cheese and fresh herbs, and serve immediately.
Savoury French Toast Recipe
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp chilli powder
- 1-2 tbsp neutral cooking oil
- 4 slices Japanese bread thickly sliced
- 300 g cherry tomatoes halved
- 100 g feta cheese cubed
- 20 g fresh dill roughly chopped
- Beat the eggs, milk, and seasonings with a fork until the seasonings are completely combined.
- In a small frying pan, heat a tablespoon of neutral cooking oil; just enough to cover the pan.
- Dip a slice of bread in the egg-milk mixture in a deep plate or container large enough to lay the slice down completely flat and soak for 30 seconds a side.
- Use a wide spatula or fish slice to lift the slice of bread out of the egg-milk mixture and slide it into the frying pan.
- Fry the bread on medium heat, first on one side, then on the other, until the toast is golden brown, then transfer to a warming plate in the oven, and repeat until you’ve fried all the bread.
- Wipe down the pan with a paper kitchen towel and add another tablespoon of cooking oil, then when hot, add the cherry tomatoes and pan-fry for a minute or two until done, but not over-cooked so they lose their colour.
- Add the fresh dill (or herbs of your choice) and combine, then add the feta cheese, combine and remove immediately – the cheese just needs to start to soften, not to melt.
- Pile the tomatoes and feta cheese on top of two pieces of French toast per person, then garnish with more fresh dill and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper, and serve immediately.
Please do let us know if you make our savoury French toast recipe in the comments below as we’d love to know what you think.