Early last summer my 16-year old daughter introduced me to tartines, those classic French open-faced sandwiches that suggest a vibrant fruit tart but with vegetables. I had taken her to lunch at a nearby café to celebrate the start of her summer vacation. As she scanned the menu, she pointed to a section labeled “Tartines” and mentioned that her high school French class had talked about them a few weeks earlier. She then launched into an enthusiastic explanation of how they are made.
I was reminded of that day a few weeks ago when I was browsing recipes in the New York Times and ran across a David Tanis column on the subject. In Grilled Cheese? Try a Tartine Recipe Instead, Tanis describes tartines as similar to a small pizza made of toasted bread, cheese, and any number of savory toppings. He also observes that tartines are a popular menu item in tiny neighborhood cafes and bistros in Paris presumably because of their convenience.
This got me to thinking about how tartines could be a great weekday option for busy families. They can be prepared on the fly and customized to fit both the time of day and individual preferences. Cleanup is minimal since they require the use of only a few dishes. Most importantly, everyone can participate in their preparation, even the kids.