Deborah Madison's Summer Squash Tartines with Rosemary and Lemon

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[Photograph: Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton]

It may not be zucchini season quite yet, but I'd advise squirreling away Deborah Madison's Summer Squash Tartines recipe from her new book, Vegetable Literacy, for dinner parties in the coming months. Another winning bread-cheese-vegetable combination, these open-faced sandwiches are just the thing when you've got a couple of cucurbits hanging around the house. Sure, anyone can throw cheese on bread and call it an appetizer. Yet Madison's little touches, like rubbing the bread with garlic and gently cooking the squash with a sauté-steam method, make these tartines more than a slapdash effort at a snack.

Why I picked this recipe: I love a good couple of tartines for lunch or an easy appetizer; this version's pairing of creamy ricotta and supple squash seemed like a good choice.

What worked: These tartines make for almost effortless cooking at its best.

What didn't: I seasoned the ricotta toasts with a little flaked sea salt and pepper before laying on the zucchini. Not strictly necessary, but I enjoyed the additional bursts of salt. Taste your ricotta for seasoning first!

Suggested tweaks: Madison suggests using marjoram, dill, or basil in lieu of rosemary should you want a less woody herb. I used teeny baby zucchinis for my tartines, and loved the visual effect. Baby pattypans would be equally delightful. You could also substitute a creamy fresh goat cheese for the ricotta should you want a stronger cheese presence.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Vegetable Literacy to give away this week.

About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, Berkeleyside NOSH, and blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.

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