Heirloom Tomato and Summer Squash Tartine

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chillin' in the bread aisle

Image by dogwelder via Flickr

Tartine is simply a French word for an open faced sandwich, usually with jam or a spread on top. And I LOVE tartines. They can be casual, easy, fancy, complicated, but always scrumptious. The key in making a tartine is using fresh, unprocessed bread. The bread should be simple, like an old-fashion country loaf, made with as little as four real ingredients.  Skip the loaves that contain sugars, preservatives, additives, hydrogenated oils, high-fructose corn syrup, and corn syrup. There is a distinct difference in taste and texture with breads made fresh at home or a small bakery compared to the bread found in supermarkets. Most breads sold in supermarkets are made on an industrial scale (mass produced) and meant to have a long shelf-life (not grow old). Also, bread found in the supermarket is usually pre-sliced for your convenience, which would normally become stale a lot faster than an unsliced loaf of bread. To extend the shelf-life of the bread, the breadmakers (chemists) add a ton of  preservatives and possibly other additives to make the bread look attractive (dyes, bleach). The goal of industrial bread makers is to make the bread as cheaply as possibly by using low quality ingredients, extending the shelf-life, and charging consumers the pre-sliced convenience fee. Taste and nutrition are really not important factors in the bread making process. However, a true bread maker puts in a lot of dedication and passion into making each loaf. Let’s compare the ingredient lists between typical store bought bread and one that would be made at home:

Store Bought Bread

Enriched Bleached Flour [Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid], Water, Whey, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Yeast, Contains 2% or Less of Each of the Following: Sugar, Wheat Gluten, Calcium Sulfate, Soybean Oil, Salt, Dough Conditioners (May Contain One or More of the Following: Mono- and Diglycerides, Ethoxylated Mono- and Diglycerides, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Calcium Peroxide, DATEM, Ascorbic Acid, Azodicarbonamide, Enzymes), Guar Gum, Calcium Propionate (Preservative), Distilled Vinegar, Yeast Nutrients (Monocalcium Phosphate, Calcium Sulfate, Ammonium Sulfate and/or Calcium Carbonate), Corn Starch, Vitamin D3, Soy Lecithin, Soy Flour.

Homemade/ Artisan Bread

Flour, Water, Yeast, Salt.

Slice your own bread, it’s worth it!

I personally like to get my loaf from Tartine Bakery, Acme Bread, and La Boulangerie. Though I try not get it too often, as I cannot practice any restraint around a fresh, aromatic loaf. I like to eat tartines with warmed jams and nut butters, pure butter, fresh fruits, or heirloom tomatoes, cheeses,  grilled chicken breast, arugula, or farm fresh eggs.

Which loaf of bread would you feel comfortable eating and digesting? Which do you think is better for your kids and family?

Heirloom Tomato and Summer Squash Tartine

1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
1 tsp garlic, chopped
2 tsp olive oil, plus more for coating the pan
1/2 cup zebra zucchini, sliced
1/3 cup onions, sliced
1 small ripe heirloom tomato
2 slices of a country loaf bread
2 tbs sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2 tbs goat cheese, crumbles
2 tbs Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsp dried basil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper


1. In a mixing bowl, toss 2 tsp olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and cherry tomatoes to mix well. Meanwhile, heat a cast iron pan (or nonstick skillet) on medium heat. Gently toss the cherry tomatoes in the pan and let cook until the skins are wrinkly and juice starts to burst out, about 7-10 minutes. Stir frequently.

2. In the same skillet or another, cook the onions until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Cook the squash until tender, about 5 minutes. You may need to drizzle a little bit of olive oil over the pan so the onions and squash do not stick to the pan. Meanwhile, slice the heirloom tomatoes and reserve the juice.

3. Toast the slices of bread in a toaster or on the skillet (my preference, so it picks up flavor and oil from the vegetables). Pour the reserved juice of the heirloom tomato over the bread. Sprinkle the cheeses over the bread immediately. Layer the zucchini, onion and tomatoes over the bread. Enjoy warm with a side salad.

Makes two tartines.

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