The 7 Commandments of Making Tartines
Your guide to downright delicious, healthy(ish) open-faced sandwiches.
Tartine: French for sandwich, relieved of its upper crust. Most breakfast menus in Paris feature tartines spread with butter and jam, meant for dipping in coffee (or hot chocolate). At lunchtime, the tartine sheds its sweet layers and gets a savory smear of pate instead.
Tartines are fun, versatile, and, most importantly, lighter than normal sandwiches. They’re an ideal party appetizer, yes, but also a decent lunch or dinner. Because they’re infinitely variable—you can top them with just about anything—follow these ground rules for a tasty open-face every time.
Use sturdy bread
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Bread gives the tartine its structure, so opt for a slice that can stand up to toppings. Dense, nutty multi-grain or hearty slices of miche are preferable. A crusty baguette cut lengthwise works too, although it’s thicker than other slices. Pile it with more toppings so you get a one to one ratio of bread to toppings in every bite.
Toast the bread
Toasting gives the bread sturdy crunch so it won’t get soggy under the toppings.
Dress the bread
Are you noticing a theme? When it comes to tartines, there’s much ado about the bread. The last thing you want is naked toast, so for goodness sake drizzle some olive oil on, smear it with butter, mayo, jam, pesto, hummus, or whatever your favorite condiment may be. Finally, season the bread with salt and pepper (when going savory).
Thinly slice your veggies
Tartines are a delicate affair, so the last thing you want to do is top the thing with chunky vegetables. Use your sharpest knife, a mandolin, or Y-shaped vegetable peeler to create paper-thin slices.
Dress your vegetables
Toss the thinly shaved vegetables in a bit of lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, or all of the above. You’ll help tenderize the toppings and also enhance their natural flavors.
Small, roll-y ingredients like capers or diced onion should go right against the bread—they’ll stick to the spread instead of falling off. When layering, alternate textured ingredients like lettuce with slippery ones like sliced tomatoes.
Make it pop
Although there’s something to be said for topping with something that stands in for a second slice of bread, like a large lettuce leaf, why cover up your beautiful stack? Instead, let those layers show, and garnish them with one or two ingredients that add texture and color. Think: a dash of hot sauce, fresh leafy herbs, red pepper flakes, or cracked black pepper.