Deborah Madison's Summer Squash Tartines with Rosemary and Lemon

[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.

Reprinted with permission from Vegetable Literacy: Cooking and Gardening with Twelve Familes from the Edible Plant Kingdom, with over 300 Deliciously Simple Recipes by Deborah Madison. Copyright 2013. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.

Deborah Madison's Summer Squash Tartines with Rosemary and Lemon

About This Recipe

Yield:serves 4
Active time:15 minutes
Total time:20 minutes
This recipe appears in: Deborah Madison's Summer Squash Tartines with Rosemary and Lemon


  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 or 2 summer squash (about 8 ounces in all), very thinly sliced
  • Scant 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 long pieces of baguette, sliced diagonally
  • Olive oil and garlic for the bread
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese


  1. 1

    Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the squash, sauté for 1 minute or so to warm, then add a splash of water and cover. Cook over medium-high heat until the squash is soft, about 3 minutes. Remove the lid, add the rosemary and lemon zest, toss it with the squash, and then season with salt and pepper.

  2. 2

    Lightly brush the cut surface of the baguette pieces with olive oil, then toast until golden and crisp. While the bread is hot, rub the cut surfaces with the garlic. Spread the baguette pieces with the ricotta, then overlap the squash on top. Season with a bit more pepper and serve.

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