Up until the age of 20, one of my favorite things to eat in the world was a tuna fish sandwich. That was my go-to lunch whether eating out or at home. There was a deli in my college town that put an absurd amount of tuna salad on a large soft roll and I would talk friends with cars into taking me to get one. At home, I mixed my albacore with plenty of celery, a little mayo, and a dollop of mustard. I piled it high on rye bread and topped it with tomatoes, pickles, lettuce. Then, four years after I stopped eating meat, I stopped eating fish. I contemplated having a special disclaimer for tuna fish sandwiches but ultimately decided that tuna fish is still, you know, fish. So I said goodbye to my beloved sandwich.
Since then, sandwiches and I have not really gotten along, especially when eating out. My experience of vegetarian sandwiches in restaurants go a little something like this:
- Dried out rye bread smeared with too much mayonnaise and topped with a slice of Swiss cheese that has started to go crusty around the edges, a not-quite-red tomato, and a hunk of iceberg lettuce.
- Massive slices of oily greasy foccacia slathered with oily greasy sun-dried tomato hummus on one half and oily greasy tapenade on the other, topped with oily greasy roasted vegetables.
- Very earnest whole wheat bread, smeared with cream cheese and topped with every vegetable under the sun including an entire garden’s worth of sprouts.
At home, it’s better. Grilled cheese when dunked into amazing tomato soup is nice. And I’m a total sucker for a tofu Bahn Mi. But really, I prefer a wrap or a salad. Or noodles. Or really anything else. I’m just not a sandwich gal.
This is not a sandwich. It’s a tartine. Verrrrrry different. French. Open faced. One piece of really good bread. Interesting and varied toppings. Think crostini or bruschetta but bigger pieces of bread. More like, um, a sandwich. I like these very much. They are terrific when you want to make something for lunch or dinner but don’t want to shop. They are also terrific if you have a soup or salad that you are excited about and you just wanted something yummy to round out your meal.
Last week, I planned to make a salad that I was excited about and I had a new pan I was excited about and so tartines it was. I made one with a labneh (kind of like a yogurt cheese), roasted tomato, and cilantro. I made the other with a frittata made with shallots, cilantro pesto, harissa. Except I was out of harissa so I used sambal oelek (a chile sauce). Nothing super fancy but both were so much better than the sum of their parts.
So how about that pan? One of the most common questions I get in classes is about what kind of pans I use. I am lucky to have a decent arsenal of high quality stainless steel pans (All-Clad), a few Le Crueset pots, a beautiful copper double boiler (that is too pretty to use), and a few other assorted others. I rarely use use non-stick pans. There are a few reasons for this. It is nearly impossible to get a good brown on an onion (or a steak for that matter – not that I would know) with a non-stick pan. Until recently, the coating on most non-stick pans would emit dangerous chemicals into your kitchen if left on high heat. And really, I am just in the habit of using stainless or cast-iron for most things.
Except eggs. And pancakes. And grilled cheese sandwiches. There is no substitute for non-stick in those situations, in my opinion. I have a huge All-Clad non-stick pan that I use for very large frittatas but it isn’t the best for smaller quantities. So when the Bialetti people offered to send me a new brightly colored perfectly sized pan, I jumped at the chance to say yes.
What can I say, this is a great little pan. It is lightweight, has a handle that stays cool, a white bottom so you can easily see your food (why has no one else thought of this?), and is super SUPER non-stick. I love it. And I know you would too. Want one? Just tell me about your favorite pan in your kitchen and what you like to make with it. I will randomly choose a winner on Tuesday, March 13th. This contest closes at noon (PDT) on that day. UPDATE: This contest is now closed. A winner has been chosen.
One Year Ago: Sweet Potato Tian
Two Years Ago: Tofu Cauliflower Kahri
Three Years Ago: Goat Cheese Ravioli with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
Tartine with Labneh, Slow Roasted Tomatoes, and Cilantro
Inspired by Dianna Henry’s Plenty
The labneh needs to sit overnight in the refrigerator overnight, so plan accordingly. If you are going to go through the trouble of slow roasting tomatoes, you might as well do a larger batch. Lay the leftovers in layers drizzled with olive oil in the refrigerator.
1½ cups 2% Greek yogurt
1 garlic clove, put through a press or very finely minced
Kosher or sea salt
8 plum tomatoes, cut in half and seeded
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
4 thick slices sourdough bread
Place the yogurt, garlic, and a pinch of salt into a bowl and stir well. Line a sieve with cheese cloth and scrape the yogurt mixture into the sieve. Place a bowl under the sieve and put the whole thing in the refrigerator overnight.
Preheat the oven to 300ºF. Place the tomato halves on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper and roast until very soft and kind of shriveled, turning half way through the baking process, about 1 hour. Set aside.
While the tomatoes are roasting, place the bread on another baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and bake until just a tiny bit crispy on top, but still soft, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
Smear a bit of the labneh on each slice of bread (you might have have some left over). Lay down two tomato halves and scatter cilantro leaves over the top. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Tartine with Shallot Frittata and Cilantro Pesto
Dana Treat Original
1½ cup cilantro leaves
¼ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Kosher or sea salt
1/3 cup olive oil
1 large shallot, finely diced
3 large eggs, beaten
4 thick slices sourdough bread
Harissa, or other hot sauce
Preheat oven to 325ºF. Place the cilantro and walnuts in a food processor. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Process until a coarse paste forms. Pour in the olive oil and pulse until you have a relative smooth pesto. Set aside.
Place the bread on a baking sheet. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and bake until just a tiny bit crispy on top, but still soft, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
Place a non-stick pan over medium-low heat. Drizzle in a bit of olive oil and then add the shallots and a pinch of salt. Sauté until very soft and starting to brown, about 4 minutes. Pour in the eggs and swirl the pan around so that egg covers the surface of the pan. Keep lifting the edges of the eggs up so the uncooked top layer can get a chance at the heat. If you are very dextrous, you can flip the whole frittata over. If not, just make sure the top of the frittata is cooked, then remove from the heat.
Slice the frittata into quarters. Lay a quarter on each slice of bread and spoon a bit of the cilantro pesto over top. Add just about a teaspoon of chile sauce to each tartine.