The case for open-face
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.