The case for open-face

The Globe and Mail Metro (Ontario Edition) - - PURSUITS - LINA CASCHETTO

Let the farm­ers’ mar­ket be your guide to top­ping these tartines

When it comes to sum­mer food, tartines are a no-brainer. These sim­ple open-faced can­vases pro­vide per­fectly toasted ves­sels to carry all the awe­some­ness that be­gins to pour out of a sun-ripened sum­mer gar­den in Au­gust.

Start with the best bread you can get your hands on. A crusty, lev­ain-raised and wood­fired bread is my go-to, and all the bet­ter if it’s made from high­qual­ity lo­cally sourced and or­ganic grains. Look for a bread that has a medium-dense chewy crumb rather than one with tons of holes in it. Each slice needs to be able to pro­vide the struc­ture for your top­pings – the last thing you want is to lose them all through a hole in the bread on the first bite.

In terms of top­pings, know­ing how to keep things sim­ple is key for this recipe. Let the gar­den or the farm­ers’ mar­ket be your guide. Start with the best pro­duce you can get. Think crunchy lemon cu­cum­ber slices on a smear of gar­licky hum­mus, lightly sprin­kled with smoked salt, or vine-ripened toma­toes, herb-laced ri­cotta and chipo­tle flakes.

A great tar­tine should con­sist of around four in­gre­di­ents. For me, burnt apri­cots, fresh goat cheese, black pep­per and lo­cal honey is a cur­rent favourite com­bi­na­tion. I whipped up a batch of these over an open fire a cou­ple weeks ago and they were the stuff that sum­mer food dreams are made of. At home, they can eas­ily be cooked in a hot cast-iron pan on the stove or even on the bar­be­cue.

Try to find apri­cots that are ripe and tasty. If pos­si­ble, test a sam­ple be­fore buy­ing as it can be hard to tell what you are go­ing to get with apri­cots un­til you ac­tu­ally cut into one. If tast­ing isn’t pos­si­ble, look for deep or­ange apri­cots with a flo­ral fra­grance and dense, plump flesh. They should be firm with a lit­tle soft­ness, but def­i­nitely not squishy, or else they will be over­ripe.

Burn­ing food may seem like go­ing against all the rules, but trust me, for this recipe and the flavour it cre­ates, tak­ing these apri­cots a lit­tle too far is to­tally worth it.

LINA CASCHETTO/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

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