Summer Tartines | THE NIBBLE Blog - Adventures In The World Of Fine Food TIP OF THE DAY: Light & Luscious Summer Lunch – THE NIBBLE Blog – Adventures In The World Of Fine Food
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TIP OF THE DAY: Light & Luscious Summer Lunch

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/
    mayo blend
  • Pita (see pita tartines)
  • Puréed vegetables
  •  
    PICK A TOPPING

  • 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
  • Heirloom tomatoes
  • Sliced feta or other cheese
  • Prosciutto or serrano ham
  • Sliced hard-boiled egg
  • Sliced radishes and/or cucumbers
  • Steak tartare
  • Steamed or grilled vegetables
  •  
    PICK A GARNISH

  • Baby arugula, spinach or watercress
  • Celery leaves, sprouts or microgreens
  • Chopped herbs: basil, chives, cilantro, dill, parsley
  • Corn kernels, sliced olives
  • Frisée
  • Lemon or lime zest
  • Pickled onions or other pickled vegetables
  • Pine nuts or chopped pistachios
  • Shaved Parmesan or other firm or hard cheese
  •    
    Radish Tartine

    Asparagus-Hummus Tartine

    Heirloom Tomato Tartine

    Gravlax Tartine

    [1] Tartine of ricotta, radishes and chives (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour). [2] Hummus and fat sliced asparagus, topped with pine nuts (photo © Hannah Kaminsky| Bittersweet Blog). [3] Heirloom tomato tartine (photo courtesy Quinciple. [4] Goat cheese, gravlax and figs (photo courtesy Vermont Creamery).

     

    Cucumber Mint Spa Water
    Spa water with sliced cucumbers, lemons and mint (photo courtesy SunsetGrowers).
       
    WHAT TO DRINK: SPA WATER

    Spa water—water seasoned with fruits and herbs—is the perfect complement to a summer tartine. Use at least a trio of these aromatics for flavor and fragrance.

    Here’s a recipe from Sunset Growers, which used its mini cucumbers:
     
    RECIPE: CUCUMBER, LEMON & MINT SPA WATER

    Ingredients For 8 Cups (2 Quarts, 1/2 Gallon)

  • 2-4 small cucumbers*, sliced (keeping the peel adds color)
  • 2-4 lemons and/or limes, thinly sliced
  • Handful of fresh mint (stems O.K.)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. ADD the ingredients to a large pitcher and fill with water. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

    2. SERVE over ice in large glasses or wine goblets, with a slice of cucumber and lemon in each serving.

     
    __________________
    *We love cucumber-flavored water, so we used a large conventional cucumber. You can use any of the different types of cucumbers. Specialty cucumbers like the rippled Armenian cucumber and the Palace King with ripples of yellow on the dark green skin add interest in the pitcher.

      




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