This dish has us shaking our heads in disbelief. One bite, and now we actually crave kale on a sandwich. Those chewy, ultra healthy leaves. What just happened?
This is an improvised version of my friend Lauren’s killer, kale-topped, lemon-ricotta toast—our current go-to lunch-dinner-late-night-snack favorite. Lauren is one of my inspirations in the kitchen—a busy doctor who somehow carves out time to lovingly tend cabbage roses, bake moist cake with a tender crumb, can jars of sweet homemade jam (from her backyard trees, of course), transform sautéed kale into tasty bites—and talk intelligently about any number of interesting topics, all the while. Move over Martha.
Any sandwich this special has earned a bit of flourish in its name—even a self-important swagger on the plate. Though in truth, a tartine is nothing more than an open-faced sandwich. To be precise, a French one.
The proportions here rely on taste, since that’s how Lauren does it. Don’t be afraid to dip a spoon in, see what you think and adjust to your personal preference. Be sure to use fresh ricotta—as opposed to the processed, supermarket variety.
Makes 8 to 10 open-faced sandwiches (to serve 4 or 5)
- 1 organic lemon
- 12 ounces fresh ricotta cheese (you could even try your hand at making at home)
- extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 bunch lacinato kale (also known as dinosaur or Tuscan kale), stems removed and leaves roughly chopped
- 1 baguette, cut in half lengthwise and each half cut into 4 or 5 equal pieces
- coarse finishing salt such as Fleur de Sel
- Rinse and thoroughly dry lemon. Zest the peel with a fine grater or zester.
- In a small bowl, mix ricotta with a generous spoonful of lemon zest, a squeeze or more of juice and a healthy drizzle of olive oil. Taste the ricotta mixture and add more of any of the ingredients to taste (it’s wise to start on the conservative side, adding more as you like). You might expect to use all of the lemon zest, though perhaps only a squeeze of juice. Refrigerate for at least an hour to allow lemon to fully permeate the cheese.
- Heat one or two tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet. Add garlic and red pepper and cook for 30 seconds or so as garlic sizzles and begins to take on a bit of color. Add kale to the pan and stir to distribute garlic through the greens. Cook kale until just tender, stirring upward from the bottom of the pan to bring the wilted leaves to the top of the pile and the uncooked leaves to the bottom of the pan. Cool slightly.
- Toast bread pieces under the broiler or in a toaster. Slather each with a few spoonfuls of ricotta and a large dollop or more of kale, in roughly equal proportions. Sprinkle with a pinch of coarse salt before serving.
- If you have extra ricotta or kale, save for tomorrow’s snack—or pile more generously on the bread for today.