Tartine with Ricotta, Heirloom Tomatoes and Parsley Pesto
I like simple foods but the food needs to taste good and look pretty. Tartines lend themselves to all these requirements: they are simple to prepare, flavourful and look so beautiful. Tartine is a perfect lunch. You can add a bowl of soup or pair it with a salad for lunch or serve it by itself as a lunch, light dinner or even a snack. I love tartines so much that I have a special section for them on the blog. Take a look here and see what I have posted so far, but more is coming, indulge me.
Tartine is basically an “open face” sandwich with a nice topping and generally you eat it with a knife and fork. You can serve it cold or hot, depending on the topping. The most important element of a Tartine in my opinion is the bread. Toppings come and go but the bread stays and it must be a good one. You have to use good, sturdy country style bread or baguette. I used to buy bread from Poilane bakery in France (flown over) that I kept in the freezer, but now, in the spirit of buying local, I manage to find good bakeries that bake the kind of breads I like, whether I am at home or away. The bread for this Tartine came from Penticton, from a bakery / restaurant called Walla Foods – Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Artisan Bakery and Cafe. The bakery is owned by Benjamin Manea and his wife Sharon. Ben left a technical career to follow his love for baking and cooking. The charm of the simpler life lured them from Toronto to Penticton where they settled in 2005. Ben is the baker and Sharon runs the front of the house and is lovely to chat with while you sample the daily offering and make your selection. The lunchroom is small and intimate, I haven’t had lunch there yet but will next time I am in town. They are Located at the Cannery Trade Centre, home also to the Cannery Brewery. I was there on a Saturday after my trip to the Farmers Market and on Saturday they bake this wonderful Puttanesca-Olive round loaf that I immediately fell in love with (You can find their baking schedule on their website). It is a long fermentation sourdough with olives and capers , and it’s names after the pasta Puttanesca – which Sharon tells me is something Italian “ladies of the night” would whip up easily and cheaply in order to lure customers with its fragrance. Well, it certainly lured me. The bread was perfect for my tartine, good crumb, dense but not overly so, good crust, flavourful, great bread and it made a wonderful base for a few tartines since Saturday. Walla is definitely going to be a regular stop when I am in Penticton, and even worth a special trip if you are a foodie like me:).
I prefer the bread for the tartine grilled. I pour a little olive oil into a plate and dip both sides of the bread in the oil very briefly. I then use a panini maker to grill the bread. It grills both sides at the same time and does not make a mess. I highly recommend that you equip your kitchen with a panini maker, especially if you are going to get into the “business” of making panini regularly. If you don’t have one then grill the bread in a ridged or flat pan on top of the stove. Once the bread slices are grilled they are a ready canvas for your creation. Keep in mind that you can place warm topping on a tartine, add some cheese and broil it to melt the cheese. or make a cool topping, as suggested here.
The parsley pesto that is called for in the recipe is something I have made regularly and kept in the fridge this summer ready to add flavour and colour to many foods. I have this giant parsley plant, I am amazed how much it grew in one season, and I was looking for ways to use the beautiful, flavourful and fragrant leaves. It turned out to be a great little pesto that was very useful in the kitchen.
The tomatoes for this tartine came from the Penticton’s Farmers’ Market from Honest Food Farm stand. Yuri and Brandie Zebroff grow a large selection of beautiful heirloom vegetables and tomatoes and these were so sweet and delicious that I hit a home run with this tartine. Don’t you love knowing where your food comes from?
Here is how I made my tartine for lunch:
2 slices rustic country bread, preferably from a round loaf.
Ricotta, best quality
A handful heirloom cherry tomatoes, or other good ripe tomatoes
Parsley pesto (see below)
Garnish: micro greens, parsley leaves or basil
Salt and pepper
Heat up a panini maker or a ridged grill pan on top of the stove to high.
Slice two thin slices of bread off the round country loaf.
Drizzle olive oil onto a flat plat and dip each side of the breads into the oil, pressing gently to help the bread absorb some of the oil.
Place the bread slices on the panini maker or grill and grill until the bread is nicel;y toasted and grill mark are present.
Remove for heat and set aside.
Spoon ricotta over the bread, as much or as little as you wish.
With a spoon, drizzle a little pesto over the ricotta, not too much.
Cur the cherry tomatoes in half and lay on top of the ricotta, pressing them gently into the cheese.
Drizzle a little pesto over the tomatoes.
Season with salt and pepper.
Garnish with micro greens, parsley or basil.
Serve immediately with knife and fork.
2/3 cups olive oil
1 large bunch flat leaf parsley
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon capers, drained
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
1 teaspoon coarse salt
Place all ingredients in a small food processor and process until creamy and blended.
Use immediately or place in a glass container and refrigerate until needed. Bring back to room temperature before using.