Paris – often described as one of the most romantic and beautiful cities in the world. I had the opportunity to visit as a teenager, shortly after I graduated from high school. I spent a few months working in Sweden that summer as the official (and only) dishwasher at a beautiful, historic restaurant on the North Sea. After I’d washed enough dishes to reach to the moon and back, I had a bit of time left to travel with some dear friends before heading back to the States. Paris was one of the favorite places that we visited, and I still have wonderful memories of exploring “the city of lights“.
Ever since, I dreamed of returning to Paris; but life has a way of taking you down different roads. Raising children and working a “real job” filled much of my time for many years and, though I loved that phase of life, thoughts of distant, romantic cities were relegated to my fantasies. Then, two years ago, my daughter surprised me in the most delightful way. She lives in London and while we were there visiting her, she took me on an unexpected, birthday trip – to Paris!
We got on the high speed train that runs under the English Channel early one morning and headed to France. It was a cloudy, grey day, not the prettiest for sure, but we didn’t care. We spent the day in Paris, walking, talking, laughing, eating, climbing the Eiffel tower and cramming in as many sights as possible. That evening we boarded the train once again (just as the skies opened up and poured torrents of rain). We dined on delicious Parisian bread, cheese and wine while heading back to London, and were tucked in our little beds before midnight struck. What awesome memories were created that fun spring day.
I guess, being a hopeless romantic, I’ll always be dreaming of Paris. I hope to be able to visit again one day and explore the beautiful city with my best buddy (aka husband), Scott. Until then we have a fun way of recreating a bit of France without ever leaving home. Scott puts on some romantic French music like this or this (you can hear the songs by clicking on the little arrow below the image) and I make tartines!
Tartines? Yes, tartines are common fare in cafés and restaurants throughout France and make a fun and unique lunch or dinner entree. Tartines have as many variations as ………. well, at least as many as the number of dishes I washed that summer in Sweden!
A tartine is, in essence, just a fancy French word for an open-faced sandwich, there are a few differences that set tartines apart. First, it’s essential to use good bread; a sourdough or rustic-style loaf is perfect. Second, the tartine bread is usually brushed with butter or olive oil and toasted before topping. The toppings? The sky’s the limit and, as you can see in the pictures, I had a lot I slow-roasted the mushrooms and tomatoes with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then used pesto and fresh mozzarella for the toppings on my golden, pan-toasted sourdough slices. A short stint back in the oven to melt the cheese and a scatter of tiny basil leaves made my tartine look gorgeous with melting cheese and pesto oozing over the crisp edges. When everyone went crazy over the lunch, I knew this recipe was a keeper.
If you’re looking for something delicious, fun and quite out of the ordinary, be sure to try this wonderful Balsamic Roasted Tomato & Mushroom Tartine. It might just make you feel as if you’re dining in a charming French bistro, without ever leaving home—though you might want to practice pronouncing tartine with a French accent to be really authentic. Bon Appetit!
P.S. One other idea: these tartines also make fantastic appetizers. Just make them as directed and cut each slice into 4 or 5 individual, bite-sized portions. Voila!
- 1 lb multi-hued tomatoes halved
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1½ Tbsp good quality balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 lb large mushrooms halved
- 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp good quality balsamic vinegar
- ½ tsp sugar
- 1 tsp sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 4 slices sour dough or rustic bread
- olive oil for brushing
- 6 Tbsp pesto
- 8 oz fresh mozzarella
- fresh basil leaves for garnish
Preheat oven to 325˚F. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.
Spread tomatoes out in a single layer on one of the prepared pans. Drizzle tomatoes with 3 tablespoons oil and 1 ½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sugar, ½ teaspoon sea salt and a generous grind of freshly ground black pepper.
Spread mushrooms halves out in a single layer on the second prepared pan. Drizzle mushrooms with 3 tablespoons oil and 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon sugar, ½ teaspoon sea salt and a generous grind of freshly ground black pepper.
Roast tomatoes and mushrooms for 60-75 minutes or until most of the liquid has disappeared. Gently stir every 15 minutes during roasting time. Mushrooms will be finished about 10-15 minutes before tomatoes. Remove from oven when veggies are deep golden and caramelized. Set aside, but leave oven on.
Brush both sides of bread slices lightly with olive oil. Place in a sauté pan and cook over medium heat until golden on both sides. Cook in batches, if needed. Place bread slices on a sheet pan.
Top each bread slice with 1 ½ tablespoons pesto. Spread pesto to edges of bread slices. Slice or tear mozzarella in to small pieces. Top pesto layer with torn mozzarella. Add tomatoes and mushrooms, dividing evenly between the tartines. Return to oven and bake till cheese is melted, about 6-8 minutes.. Scatter with fresh basil leaves and serve.