NOT Avocado Toast

Get ready, cause I’m about to blow your mind…I don’t like avocado! <GASP!!!> I know, what is wrong with me?! It’s a texture thing. But, I think even if I did like avocado, I would be a little sick of the avocado toast craze by now. So, I’d like to introduce you to farmer cheese. (Even Cyrus wants to try some!)

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Farmer cheese is basically a very dry cottage cheese with most of the whey (liquid part) pressed out of it. Its texture is very similar to ricotta. I know that a lot of people HATE cottage cheese (even more than I dislike avocado), but again I think it’s a texture thing, and I urge you to try it! Friendship Dairies is probably the most common brand that you can find in most grocery stores. The cheese comes in a small block like cream cheese. But, if you live in NYC, you have to try Ben’s farmer cheese! You can buy it at Citarella’s, Murray’s Cheese, or Fairway. It comes in a pint container, and is just amazing! (Ben’s is also famous in NYC for their cream cheese.) Farmer cheese is low-fat, has low levels of lactose (so those who have difficulty digesting dairy would most likely have no problem with it), has descent levels of protein, and is super mild and versatile. It’s most common usage is for fillings in Eastern European dishes such as blintzes, but here I’ve used it as a spread on toasted bread that you can top with a wide array of vegetables, fruit, seeds, etc.

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You can top this with anything you want, or eat it plain, with salt and pepper and olive oil, honey, whatever! But, I’m going to show you two options that I made with vegetables that I had in my kitchen- roasted fennel and acorn squash. I’ll start by explaining how to cook acorn squash- its super easy! Just cut it in half lengthwise, remove the seeds, slice it, toss it with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast it in a 375 degree oven with the skin on.

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Roast the squash on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (easier cleanup) for about 20-25 minutes until the squash is soft. Let it cool and just peel off the skin with your fingers- it will come off very easily! Spread the farmer cheese on toasted bread (pumpernickel, whole grain, rye, sourdough), top with the slices of squash, and finish with salted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) to add some crunch, extra protein, omega-3 fats, and magnesium! The second topping is roasted fennel.

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To prep the fennel, cut the top of the fennel bulb off and save some of the fronds (green parts that look like dill) for garnish. Cut the bulb in half lengthwise, cut out the core, and slice into 1/4 inch slices. As with the acorn squash, toss in a bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper, 2 or 3 thyme sprigs if you have them, and a clove of crushed garlic. Spread the fennel out on a baking sheet and roast in the oven at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Roasted fennel has a much milder flavor than raw fennel- it is sweeter and the anise flavor is much less pronounced. After it cools, spread it on the toast and top with fresh cracked black pepper and fennel fronds.

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And voila, NOT avocado toast! Eat this before or after a workout, for breakfast, or as a side with your favorite soup. Enjoy!