nosh friday: zucchini-leek tartine
While backpacking in France a few summers ago, myself and two friends found ourselves in the ancient and gastronomically talented city of Lyon. We wandered into the crowded side streets, looking for dinner, navigating the hundreds of restaurants brandishing their prix fixe menus and chalkboard signs, ending up at a little bistro proudly displaying a rustic sign that beckoned with one word: tartines.
None of us (even the French-speaking ones) had any clue what tartines were. It sounded sort of like tartes, which we knew we liked, so we decided to give it a go. We crammed into a tiny table set with a dripping candle and sighed with glee as we perused the menu. Our waiter came up, discerned by our accented French that we were Americans, and said, “Ah oui, you would like the Coca-Cola, yes? Zee champagne of America!” We wrinkled our noses and told him we were not those kind of Americans; “Cote du Rhones, s’il vous plait!” we crowed happily.
Back to the topic at hand. It turned out tartines were simply large pieces of grilled rustic bread, topped with a simple mixture of something like piping hot tomatoes, jambon cru (cured ham) and goat cheese. They were DIVINE. We spent the rest of the trip looking for tartines everywhere.
Back here in the present day, I had some Farmers’ Market finds that needed using, specifically some zucchini and a small leek. I decided to pick up a lovely demi loaf of French bread at the corner bakery and make my own tartine for dinner (though I suppose it could also pass as a form of bruschetta). It was delicious; the topping lasted me for two meals and it was even better two days later, warmed on top of freshly toasted bread and topped with a yolky fried egg.
Bon appetit! Tartines for all!
1 medium zucchini, cubed
1 small leek, halved, rinsed and sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 t. butter
2 T. crumbled feta
2 T. fresh basil, roughly chopped (I found the flavor a little strong, so you might try 2 t. fresh thyme leaves instead)
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice (about 1 t.)
Loaf of crusty bread
Salt and pepper
Heat a saute pan with a coating of olive oil and the butter. Rinse the zucchini and cut off the ends. Halve and slice the zucchini into long strips, then dice into cubes. Remove the tough green ends of the leek and slice it in half length-wise. Rinse under cold water and then slice the leek, removing the rooty end. Toss the veggies into the hot oil/butter mixture.
Mince the clove of garlic and add into the veggies, sprinkling to taste with salt and pepper (go easy on the salt, as feta cheese is pretty salty). Cook for about 5 minutes, until soft but not mushy. Remove from the heat and use a slotted spoon to scoop into a bowl. Add the feta and herbs, mix and set aside.
Place the pan back on the heat. Cut the bread into generous slices, toasting face down in the remaining hot oil in the pan, until brown and crisp.
Place the bread on a plate, top with a big scoop of the zucchini mixture and finish off with squeeze of fresh lemon juice and some freshly ground pepper. Top with a fried egg if desired.