If not losing is the key to winning, then my advice for serving spring produce is simple: Get the best fresh vegetables you can and do your best not to mess with them too much. A tartine—essentially a fancy word for an open-faced sandwich—with minimal ingredients is the perfect vehicle for great spring produce. This is true not only because with so few ingredients each one can shine, but because they come together so darn fast. I like a Smashburger and a Double Double Animal Style at least as much as the next guy, but spring is the time of year that my favorite kind of fast food comes 'round for a visit.
These three quick and easy tartines are based on two techniques we learned this week: how to blanch spring vegetables, and how to clean and cook morel mushrooms. If you've been following along, congratulations, you get an A+. Consider the following your prize.
All of these tartines start with toasted bread, so it's a good idea to get the best you can find. In San Francisco, that means a loaf from Tartine or Josey Baker. Once you've got the toast and the vegetables, the rest is really quite simple.
Asparagus and Ricotta Tartine With Fresh Mint
It's still fresh, local asparagus season for at least a few weeks. You have absolutely no excuse not to be eating the stuff every opportunity you get. Asparagus, like peas and most types of corn, is one of those vegetables that deteriorates the fastest once it's been plucked from the ground. Sure, even that imported Peruvian asparagus you get at the steakhouse in the middle of winter is going to have that characteristic grassy, sulfurous aroma, but you'd be missing out on the intense sweetness that only the freshest spring asparagus has.
In this tartine, I pair that sweetness with fresh ricotta cheese, which has a mild flavor and fresh dairy sweetness that can boost the flavor of the asparagus without overwhelming it. A few torn mint leaves, a crack of black pepper, and a hefty drizzle of olive oil complete it.
Get the recipe for Asparagus and Ricotta Tartine with Fresh Mint »
Fava Bean and Goat Cheese Tartine With Marcona Almonds
Fava beans are not as sweet or strongly flavored as some of their spring compatriots, but subtlety is always fashionable in my book. After blanching and peeling them (and not the other way around), I like to give them a rough chop and toss them with some Marcona almonds to give them some more flavor and a bit of crunch. Pile the mixture onto toasted bread spread with mild fresh goat cheese.
I dare say that Dr. Hannibal Lecter himself may have been weaned from the taste of human flesh if he had had a block of fresh goat cheese and some toasted Marcona almonds to go with his favas.
Get the recipe for Fava Bean and Goat Cheese Tartine With Marcona Almonds »
Morel Mushroom Tartine With Chives
If you know how to buy, clean, and sauté morel mushrooms (and there's no reason you shouldn't if you've been reading this week), then you're two steps away from making a buttery morel mushroom tartine. It goes something like this.
Step 1: Pile cooked morel mushrooms on toast drizzled with olive oil.
Step 2: Consume with great haste and scant decency.
Okay, there's a tiny, tiny bit more: Add some chopped chives and some extra-virgin olive oil on top of that tartine before you bite in. Two actions so simple that they hardly seemed deserving of their own separate step.
Get the recipe for Morel Mushroom Tartine With Chives »
Hmm...spring veg-loaded tartines, or a spin around the drive-through? The choice should be easy.