The trouble with travel, with being an expat, is that you leave little pieces of your heart scattered across the globe. A sizeable chunk of mine resides in France, and spring is a season that leaves me longing for long picnic lunches in Paris or gentle hikes through the lavender fields and cherry orchards near Aix-en-Provence. So I fix myself a little plate of radishes, butter, sea salt and baguette. Maybe with a barely-dressed green salad and an icy glass of rosé. It’s not the same as decamping to, say, La Bastide de Moustiers for the season, but it certainly soothes the wanderer’s malaise.
This classic French combo of Radis, Beurre and Sel de Mer is often served on tartines – open-faced sandwiches, so I translated them into hors d’oeuvres size to serve at a recent French wine tasting. They’re light, bright and a nice way to balance out a heavier lineup of small bites.
It’s worth the effort (all five minutes of it) to make your own creamy, fresh ricotta for these. If radishes aren’t your thing, you can also top the ricotta with sliced figs and a drizzle of honey, or arugula and proscuitto – whatever takes your fancy. By all means use some rustic baguette slices if you prefer – I typically use the cutouts, simply because they are so easy to eat mid-conversation with a glass of wine in the other hand.
Makes about 16 appetizer/bite sized tartines
1 batch fresh ricotta OR 1/2 cup premade ricotta
For the Tartines
8 slices Pain au Levain or other rustic bread
4 tbsps butter, at room temperature
1 small bunch radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 small bunch green onions, trimmed and thinly sliced (white and green parts)
3 tbsps olive oil
Small round cookie or biscuit cutter.
Using cookie cutter, cut out circles from bread slices (save trimmings for breadcrumbs).
Place bread circles on cookie sheet and place under broiler until lightly toasted on both sides.
Remove from broiler and spread each circle with a little butter.
Place a heaped teaspoon of ricotta on each toast circle and arrange radish slices on top.
Sprinkle each with a liberal amount of green onions and sprinkle with sea salt.
Drizzle with a little olive oil and lemon juice and serve with a glass of wine and extra sea salt to taste.