Exactly this time three years ago, I was in London, and by coincidence, my friend Shae from Vancouver was flying into London from Portugal that day. We met up at restaurant near Victoria Station so I could quickly jump on my train back to Brighton where I was staying.
That night, I ordered a Tartine.
Had I ever had a Tartine before? I don’t know. Maybe. Or I had, but I didn’t know that’s what it was called.
A tartine is, simply put, an open-faced sandwich (can it even be a sandwich if it’s not two pieces of bread??!?). They’re pretty popular in Euorope, especially France, which is where they come from, and tend to be eaten with a fork and knife.
The basis of any good tartine is to use really good bread, and then you pile on a bunch of stuff that has a mix of textures and flavours. Many come with an egg for added protein.
I recently went to the farmer’s market and came home with peak summer produce; fresh, locally-grown corn, and Okanagan peaches, plums and apples. I looked at those beautiful, purple, juicy, fat plums and knew exactly what I was going to do with them: tartine.
This is one of those posts that’s less recipe, and more template.
Here’s how to build the perfect tartine:
- As I already said, you need good bread. Here, I used my own homemade sourdough, but if you’re not a quarantine baker and you live in Vancouver, I’d recommend Livia or Flourist for a good, sturdy loaf of crusty artisan bread. Also, you’re going to want to toast it. This gives it even more sturdiness, and it also adds to the texture of the dish. Feel free to drizzle it with a little olive oil and toast it in a pan, even, for some sexy grill marks. You could also do this on the BBQ.
- Your base layer should be something that will anchor the rest of the ingredients that are going on top. I like to use cream cheese, a savoury herbed one if possible, a goat’s cheese (again herbed would be pretty bomb here), or ricotta. If you’re vegan, hummus or mashed avocado is a great base for your tartine. You’ll want to spread a nice, thick layer.
- Next up, the main players: in this case, it’s thinly-sliced plums, but you could use almost any fruit or vegetable here. Thinly-sliced zucchini or cucumbers, dressed with a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper would be amazing. Sautéed mushrooms with garlic? Oh yeah. Fresh, vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes? Orgasmic.
- Now you want to think about sauces and dressings. My automatic go-to is balsamic reduction and a drizzle of good olive oil.
- Garnish: a bit of peppery arugula tossed in a bit of olive oil would make a lovely topping. You could also go with microgreens, herbs, or edible flowers on top. Another potential garnish would be something to give your tartine an extra textural element, like seeds or nuts, something crispy.
That’s it! Let your taste buds be your guide, and play around with this great summer meal that has about a million different variations! I also need to add that this is the perfect dish to cook right now because it requires very little actual cooking, and let’s face it, it’s too hot to turn the oven or stove on.
Here’s my Plum Tartine:
- Thick slice of sourdough bread, toasted
- Layer of herbed cream cheese
- Layer of thinly-sliced plums
- Balsamic, olive oil, flaky salt
- Thyme leaves and blossoms
The ultimate tartine is all about the play of textures and flavours. Here, the creamy, slightly acidic cheese plays off of the sweet, juicy fruit. Then you have the crisp of the toasted bread and the sweet/acid of the balsamic reduction. It’s the perfect summer bite!
PS. If you want to try tartine in Vancouver, I recommend Ubuntu Canteen.