When I go out to breakfast, my continental disposition usually leads me to a fruit plate with some toast, or the ubiquitous toasted bagel plate. Four out of times, the bagel is under-toasted, the smoked salmon just meh, the cream cheese rock-solid-cold, and the onion sliced about ½ inch thick so it’s virtually inedible. My non-confrontational style means I eat it all, but I ain’t happy about it.

In my kitchen I have control. I can toast the bagel how I like it, so that it’s crispy with every bite. The fromage blanc is room-temperature, the way the dairy gods intended. In the smoked salmon’s place, I usually prefer a seasonal delight, in this case a perfectly ripe heirloom tomato, dotted with the crunch of coarse salt and adorned with little basil leaves, because they were meant to be together. And they were meant to be in my belly.

As for the flavor of the bagel, I like sesame, but we can still be friends if you go poppy. You are banished from the island if you go blueberry-flavored.


  • 2 bagels
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup fromage blanc, at room temperature
  • 1 large ripe heirloom tomato, cut into 8 slices
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 small fresh basil leaves (or torn large ones if you can’t find small ones)


  1. Slice the bagels in half.
  2. Toast them until golden brown.
  3. Remove and butter them while they are still piping hot. Then slather them with the fromage blanc.
  4. Place 2 slices of tomato on each bagel half, and season with sea salt and black pepper to your liking.
  5. Dot the bagels with the basil leaves, and serve.