Tartine is the French word for stuff on toast, as I like to call it. A slice of lightly toasted bread topped with whatever suits your fancy. Really. The combinations are endless. This has a soft cheese (ricotta or goat cheese), sweet seasonal fresh strawberries and a drizzle of thick balsamic vinegar, the good kind. It's fresh, easy, very satisfying and great for warm weather.
I had big plans for today’s post, as big as a three course meal ending in a dazzling dessert with berries and mascarpone. By the time I finished with the appetizer, this strawberry tartine, I had no more energy for another round of cooking and photographing. It takes time you guys, and planning and je ne sai quoi, don’t you agree? I need to feel it before it can translate into something blog worthy.
At least I managed to make stuff on toast, similar to a bruschetta recipe, and we all know how good that is.
This recipe is more a list of ingredients than not. They type you mix and match to your liking, changing this or that depending on what you have on hand.
But, well, being a strawberry goat cheese tartine, let's get into the ingredients needed.
Make sure you use a soft but rustic bread, the type you buy at a good bakery with a good crust and great flavor. I use the Semolina bread recipe, one of the most popular (by far) in this blog. And sometimes the No-knead French Bread recipe.
I don't recommend packaged supermarket bread that is too soft, the sandwich bread used for pb jelly sandwiches for example. You need a sturdier base.
This is a recipe to make when fresh, juicy, seasonal strawberries appear.
Using frozen ones won't really work. They have too much water and lack flavor after thawed. You can lightly roast them before adding them to the tartine, and that can make the flavor better, especially if you sprinkle some brown sugar on top before baking.
It's almost winter here, so I’m very baffled by the fresh strawberries in the market the past couple of weeks. They are good tasting. Very good tasting. And all red, which is usually summer strawberry territory. I distrust strawberries that are too big and too red, they usually taste like unsweetened strawberry tea, a mix of acid and bitter.
Well, who knew I would be popping strawberries like candy in the middle of winter?
Ricotta or Goat cheese
- Chevre, that fabulous soft cheese, is the best goat cheese for this tartine. It has character but is not overpowering and lets other ingredients shine. I find it very hard to find sometimes, so sometimes end up using goat's feta cheese. Not the same but still good.
- Ricotta: it's a creamy but grainy cheese from Italy, slightly sweet, that pairs well with so many other ingredients. You can use it as it comes or process it to make whipped ricotta, smoother and easier to spread. Drain it if it's too watery.
The first goat cheese I used was of the pungent kind, with a bitter aftertaste. I do like it a lot, especially in a quiche I make with caramelized onions, but for this tartine, it was too much.
So round number two included a milder cheese and less of it. I couldn’t find chevre, which is the ultimate soft goat cheese in my opinion, so I used chevrotin. I think feta would’ve been good too.
What about the balsamic vinegar? It adds a good touch, and though it's not mandatory, but I suggest you don't miss it.
The original balsamic vinegar is heated and reduced to a syrup, and it is a revelation. It concentrates and each drop is magic, adding so much flavor and uniqueness to this tartine. It’s just so darn amazing. The sweet acrid waft as it cooks is similar to the way my kitchen smells when I make my favorite chutney recipe.
This is a great appetizer and very simple to put together.
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- If you want to use whipped ricotta (as opposed to using it as it comes, more grainy), process it until smooth.
To make the syrup:
- Put the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan and let reduce over low heat. You can double the amount and keep it to use for salads or other dishes. It keeps almost indefinitely.
- Check constantly until it's syrupy and thick. It might take 5 minutes or 15, depending on how much water content the balsamic vinegar has.
- Remove from heat, let cool completely, and keep in a glass jar.
- Drizzle lightly each bread slice with olive oil and toast in a medium oven (325°F/170°C) until it begins to color.
- Spread the soft cheese on each bread slice, dividing equally.
- Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper.
- Top with fresh strawberry slices.
- Drizzle with half a teaspoon or so of balsamic syrup.
- Eat immediately.
Make sure you use a soft but rustic bread, the type you buy at a good bakery with a good crust and great flavor. I use the Semolina bread recipe, one of the most popular (by far) in this blog. And sometimes the No-knead French Bread recipe. I don't recommend packaged supermarket bread that is too soft, like sandwich bread. You need a sturdier base.
Chevre, that fabulous soft cheese, is the best goat cheese for this tartine. It has character but is not overpowering and lets other ingredients shine. I find it very hard to find sometimes, so sometimes end up using goat's feta cheese. Not the same but still good.
Substitution: this strawberry tartine also works using a good brie cheese or thick ricotta.
Strawberries: using fresh ones is the best and I recommend you make this tartine during strawberry season. That said, you can also roast them first. This is a good idea if the berries are lacking in flavor or you only have frozen and you want to make this recipe anyway. Bake in a 350°F/180°C oven for 15-20 minutes, until they start to shrivel. You can add a teaspoon or two of brown sugar before roasting them for a sweeter flavor.
- Prep Time: 15
- Category: Appetizers
- Method: Layering
- Cuisine: International
Keywords: strawberry tartine
Inspired from the cookbook Around my French Table, by Dorie Greenspan