It’s too darn hot. After a few days of downing pints of ice cream and sorbet, we started working on more nutritious fare.
Beyond the green salads and fruit salads, we began playing with summer-specific tartness, the French word for open-face sandwiches.
Tartine is the French word for an open-faced sandwich with a rich spread or fancy topping; the word actually refers to a slice of bread. Tartine is the French diminutive of the Old French and Middle English tarte, derived from the Late Latin torta, a type of bread. Here’s more about tartines.
Tartines have faded from fashion in the U.S. After World War II, hearty open face roast beef or turkey sandwich with gravy were popular fare, eaten with a knife and fork. Ladies’ lunch rooms served more delicate versions, with smoked salmon and sliced cucumber or a lighter version of beef or turkey.
But with much better bread available to us, it’s time to revisit the tartine. The ingredients can be seasonal: topped with melted cheese in cooler months, and with arugula, mesclun or sprouts in warmer ones.
In fact, the vegetable bounty of summer calls out for tartines. The combinations are vast:
PICK A BREAD
Begin with choosing a bread that gives character to your tartine. You can serve it toasted or untoasted. Consider:
Flatbread for crunch
Multigrain for texture
Rustic loaves for crustiness
Specialty breads for flavor: cornmeal, olive, pistachio, raisin-walnut
Whole grain for fiber
PICK A SPREAD
Anything spreadable goes on top of the bread. You can season any of the dairy products to taste.
Cream cheese, goat cheese, ricotta or whipped cottage cheese
Greek yogurt or sour cream
Hummus or babaganoush
Mashed avocado or guacamole, mashed green peas
Mayonnaise, flavored mayonnaise, pesto/mayo or mustard/
Pita (see pita tartines)
Berries, sliced avocado, figs, peaches, watermelon or other fruit
Ceviche, gravlax, herring or whitefish salad, sashimi, sardines, sliced shrimp, salmon or tuna tartare, smoked salmon
Sliced feta or other cheese
Prosciutto or serrano ham
Sliced hard-boiled egg
Sliced radishes and/or cucumbers
Steamed or grilled vegetables
PICK A TOPPING
Baby arugula, spinach or watercress
Celery leaves, sprouts or microgreens
Chopped herbs: basil, chives, cilantro, dill, parsley
Corn kernels, sliced olives
Lemon or lime zest
Pickled onions or other pickled vegetables
Pine nuts or chopped pistachios
Shaved Parmesan or other firm or hard cheese
PICK A GARNISH
 Tartine of ricotta, radishes and chives (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour).  Hummus and fat sliced asparagus, topped with pine nuts (photo © Hannah Kaminsky| Bittersweet Blog).  Heirloom tomato tartine (photo courtesy Quinciple.  Goat cheese, gravlax and figs (photo courtesy Vermont Creamery).