Tartine is the French word for an open-faced sandwich with a rich spread or fancy topping.

The word actually refers to a slice of bread. Tartine is the French diminutive of the Old French and Middle English tarte, derived from the Late Latin torta, a type of bread*.

We have a childhood recollection of a variety of tartines served in the ladies’ lunch rooms our grandmother frequented. Eaten with a knife and fork, they were a favorite in those more gracious times.

But beyond encountering the occasional open-face roast beef or turkey sandwich smothered with gravy, open face sandwiches are no longer in fashion in the U.S.

Slapping another slice of bread on top of the ingredients for a conventional sandwich (thank you, Earl Of Sandwich) is more American: faster and more convenient to eat. Who needs elegance?

Tartines remain a traditional sandwich type in the Nordic countries: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Poland, Russia and Scandinavia, where they are eaten at breakfast, lunch, dinner or as a snack.

Inspired by this recipe from Vermont Creamery, we suggest weekend brunch of Egg Tartines, with seasonal asparagus and pea shoots.

Ingredients For 4 Tartines

  • 4 eggs
    For The Asparagus

  • 1 pound asparagus, tough ends discarded
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
    For The Herbed Crème Fraîchee

  • ½ cup crème fraîche
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 thick slices rustic sourdough bread, toasted
  • Pea shoots (substitute microgreens or cress)

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Prepare a bowl of ice water and set aside.

    2. TOSS asparagus with oil and salt and spread out in a single layer on the baking sheet. Roast until tender, about 10 minutes.

    3. PLACE the eggs in a medium saucepan and cover with cool water. Place pan over high heat and bring to a boil. Cover, remove the pan from the heat, and it let sit exactly 5 minutes. Transfer eggs to the ice water and allow to chill for 10 minutes.


    Breakfast Egg Tartine
    [1] For brunch or a light lunch (both photos courtesy Vermont Creamery).

    Creme Fraiche Vermont Creamery
    [2] We’re big fans of Vermont Creamery’s luxurious crème fraîche. Here’s more about crème fraîche (pronounced krem fresh).

    Pea Shoots
    [3] You’re familiar with pea pods, which hold the round peas in side. The pods grow off stems; the stems and tendrils are just delicious as the peas. They can be eaten cooked or raw in a salad or as a garnish (photo courtesy Starling Farm).

    4. DRAIN and crack the egg shells all over by gently tapping them on the counter. Peel the eggs and rinse them under cool water. Set aside.

    5. TOAST the bread. While it is toasting…

    6. COMBINE the crème fraîche, thyme, chives, parsley, lemon zest, and pepper in a medium bowl. Spread it generously over the toasted bread, then top each slice with asparagus, pea shoots, and a soft-boiled egg.


    *Both tarte/tart and torta have evolved to mean other foods in English.

    †If you can’t find crème fraîche, you can make your own or substitute Greek yogurt.


    THE NIBBLE Blog – Adventures In The World Of Fine Food

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