Tartine #1: Artichoke, sun-dried tomato, kalamata olives, and a thyme garlic compound butter

Most of us grew up eating sandwiches. Peanut butter & jelly, ham & cheese, we received them in our lunch boxes, and even continue the tradition of lunchtime-sandwich-time in our adult years. The number of sandwich shops, chain stores alone, is phenomenal, and all the varieties of sandwiches you can get.

For some reason sanwiches never really did it for me. I certainly understand the appeal. The sandwich serves as a vehicle for whatever creation your hearts desires, and for whatever the two slices of bread can hold together. But still, I never really crave a sandwich. What I do crave are tartines. Open faced sandwiches, just one slice of bread, preferably toasted, and topped with whatever you can think of. They remind me of Belgium, and lazy sunday lunches growing up.

While logistically they are not that much different than the sandwich, just one less piece of bread, but somehow the whole concept has changed. You can not keep piling on ingredients, a leaning tower of pisa of sandwich fillers, which will be secured down with that top slice of bread. The tartine has to be constructed with different considerations. It has to be able to stand on it's own.

And once you get that basic difference, the possibilities are endless. Avocado, sprout, and fleur de sel. Goat cheese, honey, and thyme. Even peanut butter, honey, and bananas. Without the extra slice of bread, the taste is totally different.
This week I made mine grilled with thyme garlic butter, topped with artichoke salad, and accented with cheddar and kalamata olives. It makes a great light lunch, or would be a nice addition next to a bowl of soup. An alternative to the traditional grilled cheese, and a step up from toast with butter.

Artichoke Tartine
serves 2

2 large slices french country bread
2 Tbs butter, room temperature
2 sprigs thyme, leafs of
1 clove garlic, grated
1 can artichoke hearts, rinsed and roughly chopped
1/4 cup parmesan
 3 Tbs. homemade mayonnaise
3 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 lemon, juice of
3-4 kalamata olives, pits removed in cut in half
6 thin slices of a sharp white cheddar, such as Cabot
1/4 tsp salt
pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, mash together the butter, garlic, and thyme. Mix until evenly distributed. Butter the two slices of bread (there will be some compound butter left over, this is a blessing, it always comes in handy). Using a grill pan, "grill" the butter side of the bread on high heat to make the bread just a tad crispy. You know this has been achieved when you begin to see grill marks on the bread. In the mean time, prepare the toppings. In a large bowl combine the artichoke hearts, parmesan, sun-dried tomatoes, mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Top the butter toasted slices of bread with the artichoke topping, and arrange three slices of cheddar on each slice. Place in the oven and toast until heated through and the cheese has begun to melt. Top with the olives and sprinkle with extra thyme leaves. Best eaten right away, when still piping hot and crisp.