Loving

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Loving List

Fresh Herb Bouquets | Summer Pasta with Corn | Overcoming Self-Deprecation | Bonnie Miller’s California Cottage


We’re off to spend a four-day weekend with R’s mother and Tuesday is Bastille Day here in France which I still, after all these years, have not seen the celebrations for! I’m really hoping to show Élie his first fireworks, especially since he loves saying “booo!” (boom) after any loud noise.

Have a wonderful weekend, long or short!

xo,

A.

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Lemon & Artichokes | egg & dart blog
Food & Recipes

Artichokes with Lemon & Fresh Basil Vinaigrette

Artichokes with Lemon & Fresh Basil Vinaigrette | egg & dart blog

We’ve survived the heatwave.

Last week was rough. As I already bemoaned on Friday, we had several days of 100°F weather or nearly. It meant that I really had to think ahead and maximize those precious morning hours when I could have the windows open. But even so, it was just too hot to turn on the stove or the oven even in the morning some days.

Artichokes | egg & dart blog

Luckily I managed to come up with a pretty decent plan for the week and grouped all my cooking into Monday morning and just a few extras Thursday morning after the market. It really made such a difference not only to not have to risk raising the temperature when I had worked so hard to keep the heat out as much as possible, but also to have something cool and refreshing to look forward to at the end of the day.

Chilled Cucumber Soup | egg & dart blog

One meal in particular hit all the right notes for me: a chilled Cucumber and Avocado Soup sprinkled with chives, Artichokes with a Lemon & Fresh Basil Vinaigrette, and toasts spread with goat cheese. What’s a soup without something to dunk after all? The soup, adapted from a Jamie Oliver recipe, is simply made in the blender and the artichokes I steamed on Monday and pulled out of the fridge a while before dinner to bring them to room temperature. A glass of rosé (always rosé) and I promise the depth of the heatwave will ease just a bit around you.

Artichokes with Lemon & Fresh Basil Vinaigrette | egg & dart blog

Chilled Cucumber & Avocado Soup

adapted from Jamie Oliver Magazine

Serves 2

1 c. full-fat plain yogurt

juice of 1 lime

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 cucumber, chopped

1 avocado, peeled and chopped

salt & pepper to taste

a small handful of chives, chopped

Place the first five ingredients in the blender in that order. Putting your liquids in first will help make blending easier. Blend until smooth adding a little water to thin if needed. Season to taste. Chill until needed. Serve with chives and a drizzle of olive oil over the top and toasts spread with goat cheese for dipping.


Artichokes with Lemon & Fresh Basil Vinaigrette

Serves 2

I love using both lemon juice and zest because the zest adds even more lemon flavor but has a softer, less acidic flavor.

2 globe artichokes

zest of 1/2 a lemon

juice of 1 lemon (about 2 scant tbsp.)

1 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped

4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

salt & pepper to taste

as small handful of basil leaves to serve

Prepare the artichokes by removing the first few layers of tough leaves, chopping off the stem to make a flat bottom, and cutting the top flat as well. Trim the tips of any leaves that still have their thorns. Quarter each artichoke and rub them all over with a half of a lemon to prevent browning. Steam until the hearts can easily be pierced with the tip of a knife, about 30 minutes. Cool, then with a teaspoon, remove the choke from the heart of each quarter. Chill until needed.

To prepare the vinaigrette, whisk together the lemon zest and juice, olive oil, and basil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, arrange the artichokes in a bowl on their backs so the hearts act like little bowls to catch the dressing. Pour the vinaigrette over the artichokes and top with fresh basil leaves.

Artichokes with Lemon & Fresh Basil Vinaigrette | egg & dart blog

Enjoy!

Any favorite cool dinner classics of yours I should know about?

xo,

A.

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Loving

Loving List

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Amber Interiors | One Pan Pasta | Bordezac Bracelet | Mon Imagier de la Forêt


Today starts a heat wave here in France and heat always makes me nervous. I am such a Northerner. But I’ve got the apartment shaded, lemon sorbet in the freezer, and thank goodness for double pane windows, so we’ll be fine.

I was wrong about the yard sale last weekend – it’s this weekend! Opps. So I’m still looking forward to that and my list may have grown. Stay cool and happy Friday!

xo,

A.

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fresh herbs | egg & dart blog
Food & Recipes

Gravlax & Whipped Chive Mascarpone Tartlettes [1×3 Ways]

Gravlax & Whipped Chive Mascarpone | egg & dart blog

Hello Monday! I have just the little thing to get the week going. This is the second recipe in the series of 1 x 3 ways puff pastry and all three recipes just happen to be perfect for the burgeoning picnic season. Simple little goodies, wonderful cheeses, maybe even some rosé? Yes, picnic season, we’re so happy you’re here!

These little tartlettes are fulled with a cool, airy whipped chive and lemon mascarpone and topped with delicate slices of buttery gravlax and bright, fresh herbs. A sprinkling of cornmeal on the parchment paper before baking gives the pastry and extra little crunch, a wonderful contrast to that fluffy mascarpone. Their flavor belies their simplicity really and if you take the plunge and try your hand at your own gravlax, you’ll be rewarded with a truly lovely little bite.

Pastry | egg & dart blog Pastry | egg & dart blog Gravlax & Whipped Chive Mascarpone | egg & dart blog

There are so many twists you could add to these tartlettes, as well. They are of course inspired by the classic lox and cream cheese bagel, so why not try a little tomato and caper salsa dolloped on top with thin slices of shallot? Or delicate crunchy curls of lemon zest, cut into thin slices and quickly fried crisp in a little olive oil. Try other herbs in the filling, parsley, dill, tarragon? A mix? Or set out the mascarpone filled tartlette shells, the salmon, and any toppings you love and let everyone build their own little bite of summer!

Gravlax & Whipped Chive Mascarpone | egg & dart blog

Gravlax and Whipped Chive Mascarpone Tartlettes

makes 8 tartlettes

Try making your own gravlax for this recipe. I promise: it is easy and can be made ahead! However, assemble the tartlettes as close to serving time as possible to keep the pastry nice and crisp.

– 8  slices gravlax or smoked salmon

– 1 x 250g package of puff pastry (thawed if frozen)

– 1/2 c. mascarpone cheese

– 1 tsp. chopped fresh chives

– 1 t. fresh lemon juice

– zest of half a lemon*

– 2 tbsp. milk

– pinch of salt

– fresh dill, parsley, and/or chives

– a small handful of cornmeal

– olive oil

* Try to get organic when possible, since the zest is being used. Also, if you are a lemon nut like me, feel free to use all the zest!

Preheat the oven to 210°C / 410°F with your baking pan turned upside down in it. Preheating the pan with the oven will give you a beautifully crisp crust and turning the pan upside down will make it easy to slide the finished tartlettes off onto a cutting board. This is the same technique I use for pizza; using a pizza stone if you have one would be fantastic as well.

Cut a piece of parchment paper the size of your baking pan and sprinkle it with the cornmeal. Roll out your pastry on the counter into a rectangle about 1/4 cm / 1/8″ thick. Cut eight circles out of the pastry using a 3 1/2″ diameter circle cutter then, using a fork, prick the pastry all around. Transfer them with a metal spatula to the parchment and gently press to adhere the cornmeal. Drizzle the edges of each tartlette with just a bit of olive oil. Bake until puffed and golden, around ten minutes.

Remove the tartlettes from the oven and, being very careful not to burn yourself, gently press down the center of each to be flat, using a potholder or the bottom of a glass to do this. Let them cool completely.

In a food processor, combine the mascarpone, chives, lemon juice, and zest. Pulse a few times to combine then add the milk and a pinch of salt. Scrape down the sides of the processor and pulse until whipped and airy, a minute or two, scrapping down the sides as necessary. Be sure not to add any more salt, remember that the gravlax is a bit salty and will add to the seasoning of the assembled tartlette.

Gently spread each tartlette shell with the whipped mascarpone. Top with a slice of salmon and a sprinkle of fresh herbs. Serve immediately.

Gravlax & Whipped Chive Mascarpone | egg & dart blog

See the first recipe in the series here: Roasted Red Pepper & Tapenade Tart

Next week, a sweet ending to the first installment of this series.

xo,

A.

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Food & Recipes

Roasted Red Pepper & Tapenade Tart [1×3 Ways]

Red Pepper and Tapande Tart |egg & dart blog

In the U.S. today is Memorial Day and in France it is Pentecost Monday but I think either place, it is officially picnic season! So I’ve got the perfect recipe for you to bring along to those picnics – easy, brightly flavorful, and quick!

This is the first recipe in a new series: 1 X 3 Ways. The idea is to offer up some of my simple ways of using the same element to make very different dishes. I often throw together easy meals using bits and pieces I find in the fridge or cabinets and simple is often times the best kind of meal! So this series will bring you three different riffs on one ingredient, starting with puff pastry today.

Red Pepper and Tapande Tart |egg & dart blog

Roasted Red Peppers |egg & dart blog

Here’s the thing, I hesitate to call this a recipe it is so simple! But that is part of what is so delightful about it, you don’t have to spend forever in the kitchen for big flavor. Using bright basil and green olive tapenade and sweet roasted red peppers makes a humble tart with lots of interesting dimension. Generous amounts of fresh basil before serving make it sing! I love this kind of savory tart with other little treats, cheeses and cured meats and pickled things, served with a simple green salad and a glass of rosé you’ll have the absolute perfect lazy summer evening meal!

Red Pepper and Tapande Tart |egg & dart blog

Roasted Red Pepper & Tapenade Savory Tart

Serves 4

If you can’t find basil and green olive tapenade, which I realize is quite specific, look for any green olive tapenade as the traditional black olives would be too strong here.

– 1 x 250g package of puff pastry (thawed if frozen)

– 1 – 2 roasted red peppers, depending on their size, cut into thin strips

– 2 1/2 tbsp. basil and green olive tapenade

– 60g fresh mozzarella, half an average sized mozzarella ball

– olive oil

– a good handful of fresh basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 210°C / 410°F with your baking pan turned upside down in it. Preheating the pan with the oven will give you a beautifully crisp crust and turning the pan upside down will make it easy to slide the finished tart off onto a cutting board. This is the same technique I use for pizza; using a pizza stone if you have one would be fantastic as well.

Cut a piece of parchment paper the size of your baking pan and lightly flour it. On the parchment, roll out your pastry into a rectangle about 1/2 cm / 1/4″ thick. Being careful not to cut through the pastry, lightly score 1 cm / 1/2″ in from the edge all the way around then, using a fork, gently prick the center section of the pastry all around to prevent air bubbles.

Spread the tapenade over the center of the pastry (inside the lines you scored) with the back of a spoon. Arrange your pepper slices on top however you like, either randomly or in a loose pattern like I did. Top with the mozzarella torn into pieces and drizzle the tart and edges with a tiny bit of olive oil.

Using a small cutting board slid under the parchment to help you lift it, transfer the tart to the pan in the oven, taking care not to burn yourself! Bake until puffed and golden and most of the moisture released by the cheese has disappeared, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven by sliding the parchment and tart onto a cooling rack or cutting board and let cool to just warm. Top with a generous amount of fresh basil and enjoy!

While this tart can be made ahead, I would definitely recommend making it the day of because refrigerated it losses all its lovely crispness.


I’ll have a second recipe for you in the series next week. In the meantime, are there any ingredients you’d be interested in seeing used three ways? I’m curious to hear what you think.

xo,

A.

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Friday Postcard

Friday Postcard

Radishes | egg & dart blog

It’s a sunny, warm Friday here and another week has melted into a long holiday weekend here in France (three in the month of May!). I’m feeling buoyed by a clear head and small victories (and the pieces of sweet strawberries Élie is feeding me) after a number of false starts yesterday. Choosing joy today! And so I’m looking forward to trying out a simple pickled radish recipe with these radishes this weekend, as you may have seen on instagram already. I anticipate pickled radishes on everything for a while!

So I’m wishing you a good Friday and a lovely weekend. What will you be up to?

xo,

A.

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Food & Recipes

Gravlax

dill | egg & dart blog

When Élie was still teeny, tiny (he isn’t anymore?!) I could barely get any food on the table. He was a constant nurser and I could never figure out the people who admonished new mothers “Are you eating well?”. No, of course not, I have a brand new baby and I haven’t slept in days! I relied heavily on the fantastic French frozen food chain Picard which sells very high quality frozen fruits, vegetables, fish, and meats, but also prepared meals. It made throwing together a fresh dish in the short no-cry periods so much easier with the veg and herbs (yes! fresh herbs!) already chopped, peeled, or blanched and I could always have ingredients on hand.

Gravlax | egg & dart blog

But some of my old favorites turned out to be adaptable to my new schedule, gravlax being a stand-out. Preparation taking about ten minutes, I could make it at anytime in advance and then, served with roasted potatoes and a green salad for example, we could have a lovely meal that wouldn’t mind waiting on our plates during a walk-the-baby shift. It felt like a little luxury.

Herbs & spices for gravlax | egg & dart blog

Gravlax has long been a favorite of ours anyway. Once you feel comfortable with the original recipe, you can try endless variations. I like to add Clementine zest around Christmastime with white peppercorns. Of course, it’s lovely in the hot summer months with other little bits and pieces to make a cool, informal meal or go classic with capers, red onions, and tomatoes on some fantastic bread. The point is, you need to have this recipe your back pocket and I promise, once you try it and see how easy it really is and how much less expensive then buying premade, you’ll be hooked.

Gravlax | egg & dart blog

Gravlax

adapted from Chez Panisse Café Cookbook

Once you try this recipe and get it down pat, experiment with different herbs, spices, and other additions like citrus zest, using organic whenever possible. For the two of us, I often buy just a small piece of fish but use the same quantities of the curing mix. I have even used this method with halibut.

up to 1 lb. salmon, skin on and pin bones removed

2 or more juniper berries, crushed (more if you love the flavor)

1/3 c. sea salt

1/3 c. sugar in the raw

1/4 t. ground allspice

1/2 t. pink peppercorns, crushed

1/2 bunch of fresh dill

In a bowl, combine the salt, sugar, and allspice. Line a baking dish large enough for the salmon with a large piece of cheesecloth or plastic wrap to wrap the salmon. Make a bed of half the dill in the bottom of the dish, then distribute half the salt/sugar mixture on top of the dill. Lay your salmon on top. Sprinkle the crushed juniper berries and pink peppercorns over the salmon, then the rest of the salt/sugar mix, and finally the rest of the dill. Making sure that the salt/sugar mix is also covering the sides of the salmon, tightly wrap it with the cheescloth or plastic wrap. Let it cure in the refrigerator at least 36 hours.

Unwrap the salmon and, using a rubber spatula, scrape off the curing mixture, herbs, juniper, and pepper. Transfer to a couple paper towels and gently blot off any excess moisture and salt. Thinly slice the gravlax on an angle and serve.

Gravlax | egg & dart blog

xo,

A.

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Food & Recipes

Marinated Feta and a Winter Greek Salad

Winter Lemons | egg & dart

 

I think I mentioned that I’m not always on top of the lunch game. But that tartine seems to have opened the door because I’ve been finding more and more treasures for lunchtime. If I’m being honest, I’d tell you that part of it is probably the recent taming of the fridge, also.  Amazing what wonders having a system and actually seeing what you have in the fridge will do!

 

Marinated feta with winter flavors | egg & dart

 

This salad started with leftover marinated feta cheese from the weekend’s lunches. The endless gray days of Parisian winter had us all craving sunlight and the bright flavor of lemon and citrusy zing of Sichuan peppercorns brought some to of that sun to our table. Marinating feta is really so easy and doesn’t take as much time as you would think to be effective. Even an hour or two will transform the cheese. Sometimes I forget to prepare it a day or two before, like last weekend when I remembered just after breakfast. It still had enough time to make a wonderfully flavored addition to our plates in the afternoon. Lucky me, we didn’t eat it all that Saturday.

 

Marinated feta with winter flavors | egg & dart

Winter Greek Salad with Marinated Feta | egg & dart

 

The marinated feta and its infused olive oil was the first thing to be pulled out of the fridge for my weekday lunch, then Kalamata olives. Greek salad, I thought. But it’s January and tomatoes and cucumbers are just a dream. The just barely ripe, crisp winter pear on the counter seemed the perfect substitute and I quickly chopped some celery to pair with it. Peppery rocket, sliced red onions, deep purple olives, and roughly chopped pistachios – they all came together with a dressing of cider vinegar and the infused olive oil, lemon zest, and peppercorns. A Greek salad for winter. And you know what? I think it really did bring back the sun.

 

Winter Lemons | egg & dart

winter greek salad with marinated feta | egg & dart

 

Lemon & Sichaun Peppercorn Marinated Feta

This recipe is easily adapted to any amount of feta and the amounts given here aren’t

written in stone. Feel free to just toss in small handfuls of seasoning to your own taste.

– 150 g feta cheese

– 1 lemon, organic if possible

– 1 teaspoon Sichaun peppercorns

– 1/2 c. olive oil or more

1. Peel half the lemon into wide strips with a vegetable peeler. Slice each strip length-wise into very thin strips.

2. Crumble the feta into large chunks.

3. Using a high sided bowl, arrange the feta in the bowl with the peppercorns and lemon zest distributed throughout the layers. Pour olive oil into to cover the feta. You may need more or less oil to just cover the cheese. Marinate for at least 1 hour if possible.

~

Winter Greek Salad

Serves 2

– 75 g marinated feta

– 1/2 c. Kalamata olives

– 2 tender celery heart stalks, sliced including leaves

– 1/2 crisp pear, sliced into matchsticks

– 1 shallot or 1 small red onion sliced thinly

– 1/4 c. unsalted pistachios, roughly chopped

– 2 handfuls rocket / arugula

– 2 tbsp. infused olive oil from the marinated feta

– 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1. Divide the rocket between two plates and then arrange the feta, olives, celery, pear, and onions on top. Sprinkle with the chopped pistachios.

2. In a separate bowl, combine the vinegar and olive oil and drizzle over the two salads. Be sure to include the lemon zest and peppercorns from the oil too!

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Food & Recipes

Raclette Pizza because baby, it’s gettin’ cold outside

Raclette may be France’s best kept secret. At least I had never heard of it before I married into a French family. But it was destined that I would love this winter dish because I love potatoes so much I consider them a meal even when they have no supporting cast. Even when I am sick and nothing else sounds good, potatoes will save me. Or ice cream. But that’s another post.

So when I was introduced to this dish at R.’s grandparents’ home one wintery evening, you can understand it was love at first sight. Raclette is actually a very humble meal: boiled potatoes are served and kept warm in a bowl on top of a raclette machine which is, basically, a tabletop broiler with individual little trays each person can fill up with raclette cheese, which can be plain or have pepper or spices in it, and what ever other goodies they like (cured meats and ham are usually on the table, too) and then warm it under the broiler. When the cheese is melted and bubbling you pour it out on top of your potatoes and the whole thing will disappear from your plate instantly. Magic. With potatoes.

I knew I couldn’t wait a whole year to have another raclette and since we don’t have a machine (or a place to store it – Parisian apartment!) I have made a gratin version in the chez nous in the winter. But in search of cooler weather comfort food last week, I put the raclette formula together with another of our favorites: pizza. I’m just going to say this because I don’t think you really need to know anything else: thinly sliced potatoes, coppa, melty raclette cheese, creme fraiche, and chives. Shall we?

Raclette Pizza

Serves 2

– 1/2 pizza dough (recipe follows)

– 1/4 lb. fingering potatoes, sliced very thinly preferable on a mandolin

– 5 slices raclette cheese*

– 5 slices coppa

– 1/2 c. creme fraiche

– a small handful of chopped chives

– olive oil

– salt and pepper

1. Preheat the oven on its highest setting with a metal baking sheet inside turned upside down. Baking the pizza on a preheated sheet will give it a nice crispy bottom and turning the tray over makes it very easy to slide the pizza right off and onto a cutting board.

2. Lightly flour the counter and your hands and start flattening out the pizza dough from the center until it is roughly 5 or 6 inches by 8 inches. You can make it round or rectangular as you like; mine are rectangular to fit the shape of my baking sheet. Once the baking sheet is very hot, remove it from the oven and place it on a heat safe surface. Drizzle the sheet with olive oil and place your pizza dough on it, stretching it gently to about 7 inches by 10 inches. Lay out the coppa slices on the dough followed by the potato slices, slightly overlapping until the pizza is covered. Drizzle the potatoes and crust edges with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Finish with the raclette cheese torn over the top.

3. Carefully put the baking tray back in the oven and bake until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbling, about 25 minutes. When it is done, gently slide it onto a counting board and let it cool for just a minute or two before putting dollops of creme fraiche over the top and sprinkling with the chopped chives. You can serve some French cornichon pickles on the side to be extra authentic.

Pizza Dough

-2 1/2 c. all purpose flour

– 1 package dry yeat

– 1 c. warm water (105 – 115°F)

– 1 tbsp. salt

– 1 tsp. sugar

– 2 tbsp. olive oil

1. Mix the warm water, yeast, and sugar together and set aside to bloom for 5 minutes.

2. Mix the flour and salt in a bowl and form a deep well in the center. Pour the yeast mixture and the oil in and slowly start incorporating the flour into the wet ingredients with a fork until all the flour has been mixed in. Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and knead until the dough is silky and smooth, about 5 to 10 minutes.

3. Put it back in the bowl and cover with a tea towel. Let rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size. I push this sometimes by putting it in a warm oven and using it in 30 or 45 minutes.

4. Divide the dough in two for the recipe above. It freezes beautifully if you need to. Done!

xo,

A.

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Food & Recipes, Life

Finding Lunch with a Tartine

The past two weeks have felt busier than usual as I’ve been trying to push ahead on a big work project. I’m finally starting to feel like I’m making headway and I hope next week things will even out a bit and I’ll have more time to shoot (I miss having a camera in my hand!). But there has been a small recent breakthrough in my kitchen nonetheless. You see, for all my love of taste and meals, I’m very bad at feeding myself at lunchtime. I work from home and it’s so easy to forget as you’re running in every direction chasing after details. Or sometimes I look into the fridge and I can’t seem to think of something quick and wonderful to eat. But I finally found a winning combination, something endlessly adaptable, and so traditional in France that I’m at a loss for why I never thought of it before.
Tartines. A slice of beautiful crusty bread and lovely layers on top. It may sound very much like a sandwich with only one slice of bread, and it is, but somehow, it’s so much more elegant. So, here is the tartine that I’ve made five times in the past week or so, including once this past weekend when I effectively disproved both of his theories that he doesn’t like mixing fruit with savory nor does he like balsamic to the Frenchman (he loved it): Warm Coppa, Apple, and Cheddar Tartine topped with greens with the perfect balsamic dressing. It’s warm, bursting with flavor and so quick. And if you’re anything like me and you have to leave it at the table after a few bites to go pull the cat from the closet where he is hunting plastic bags, it will still be delicious when you get back and it has cooled down. So, enjoy lunch.

 

Warm Coppa, Apple, & Cheddar Tartine

makes 2 for one person

2 slices of lovely crusty bread*

1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard

4 slices of coppa

1/2  medium sized tart apple, very thinly sliced

1/2 cup grated extra sharp cheddar cheese

one handful mixed baby salad leaves

balsamic dressing (recipe below)

Turn the broiler of your oven on to heat and place a rack in the top third of the oven. Spread a very thin layer of mustard on each slice of bread and place it on a parchment lined baking sheet. Top each slice with 2 slices of coppa, half the apple slices, and half the cheese. Place this under the broiler until the cheese is melted and golden, 3 or 4 minutes. Don’t leave it alone, it can go from perfect to burnt in seconds.

Remove from the oven and let cool while you prepare the dressing. Transfer to a plate and top each half with a bunch of salad greens and drizzle with the dressing to taste.

* The amount of toppings you will need for each tartine will, of course, vary if you have particularly small or large slices of bread.

Perfect Balsamic Dressing

makes enough for several salads, to keep you going all week!

2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

4 tbsp. walnut or extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard

salt and pepper to taste

Combine the ingredients in a jar, cover with the lid, and shake it up, baby.

xo,

A.

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