Tired of avocado toast? Here's your lemony, summer-approved replacement

Marinate your beans, smash them — then put them on toast

By Ashlie D. Stevens

Food Editor

Published August 8, 2022 6:31PM (EDT)

Jar full of assorted organic beans (Getty Images/Juanmonino)
Jar full of assorted organic beans (Getty Images/Juanmonino)

Weekday Plants is a weekly recipe column from Salon Food that centers on easy-to-make and adaptable vegan meals.

Before I started writing this column, I reached out to a few of my friends about what kinds of plant-based, weekday-friendly meals they'd like to learn how to make. Most respondents offered their suggestions, but one individual had a request: "Just please no avocado toast." 

My friend went on to explain that while most things in life are at least a little more delicious when served on a hunk of toasty breadavocado being no exception — as a vegan, she felt like avocado toast was her only option at most breakfast and lunch joints. Fatigue had set in. 

"But," she texted, "if you have any alternatives . . ."

And now I do. 

Earlier this week, I was on Instagram when I scrolled past a photograph on the Rancho Gordo profile. For the uninitiated, Rancho Gordo is a specialty producer and seller of heirloom beans with a cult-like following. Launched in 2001 by Steve Sando, their annual Bean Club subscription memberships have, at times, had a 35,000-person waitlist

In the below image, Sando holds up a toothpick stacked with large creamy-white beans and thin slivers of anchovy, punctuated with pops of roasted red pepper.

"I think this is going to be the appetizer to beat this summer," Sando wrote. "Remember, you heard it here first."

He continued, "I used cooked Royal Coronas but cooked and marinated would obviously be more interesting."

Gordo is totally right. Marinated beans are obviously more interesting than their undressed counterparts. They also just so happen to be the ideal topping for toast, especially in the summer. 

You can start with either dried or canned beans — both have their benefits. Canned beans shine when it comes to convenience and not having to turn on the oven in the summer. Dried beans are more cost-effective; they often have better texture and flavor; and there are tons of cool varieties to choose from (like these gorgeous vaquero beans, which kind of look like the side of a piebald horse). 

For this recipe, use something with a mild flavor and creamy interior texture, such as cannellini beans, chickpeas, great northern beans or navy beans

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Regardless, once you have about 3 3/4 cups of tender beans, the fun really begins. Raid your refrigerator and pantry for marinade ingredients. Think about it a little bit like putting together a good salad dressing. You're going to want some acid, so citrus juice or vinegar. Alliums — like minced onion, shallots and garlic — and herbs belong in the mix. Spices, salt and good olive oil tie it all together. 

Cover the beans in the marinade for at least a few hours, though overnight is preferable. Once you're ready to serve, drain most of the marinade and lightly mash the beans with a fork or the back of a spoon. You don't necessarily want to purée them like hummus (you could and it would be delicious), but smashing them just a bit really allows them to cling to the toast. 

Speaking of toast, go for a thick-cut French or country loaf or perhaps some hearty sourdough aka something that won't fold under the weight of those beautiful beans. I'd recommend griddling it in a skillet with some olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, but the old toaster is a-okay, too. Spoon your lightly mashed beans onto the toast and enjoy. 

Marinated Beans on Toast 
4 servings
Prep Time
10 minutes, plus marinating time
Cook Time
5 minutes


  • 3 1/4 cups cooked, drained beans 
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons dried red pepper flakes 
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon dried, powdered fennel seed 
  • 1 clove garlic, minced 
  • 1 scallion, finely chopped 
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped dill 
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley 
  • 4 pieces toasted bread 


  1. In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, red pepper flakes, coriander, fennel seed, garlic, scallion, the juice and zest of one lemon, dill and parsley. Stir to combine, then add the beans. 

  2. Cover the bowl and allow the contents to refrigerate for at least 4 hours. 

  3. Before serving, drain any excess liquid from the beans, then lightly mash them with a fork or the back of a spoon. Serve on toasted bread. 

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By Ashlie D. Stevens

Ashlie D. Stevens is Salon's food editor. She is also an award-winning radio producer, editor and features writer — with a special emphasis on food, culture and subculture. Her writing has appeared in and on The Atlantic, National Geographic’s “The Plate,” Eater, VICE, Slate, Salon, The Bitter Southerner and Chicago Magazine, while her audio work has appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered and Here & Now, as well as APM’s Marketplace. She is based in Chicago.

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Beans Food Lemony Recipe Toast Vegan Weekday Plants