Dress a chicken tartine with summer produce and ripe cheese, and dinner is done

HUMBLE CREATION: Peach, Blue Cheese and Chicken Tartines. Tom McCorkle/For The Washington Post 

On a recent weeknight, I found myself hungry and without a plan. A quick sweep of the refrigerator and pantry revealed fresh peaches, a country-style bread loaf, a small wedge of blue cheese and leftover chicken.

I decided to make a tartine. I lightly toasted thick slices of bread, spread each with cheese and layered sliced chicken and peaches on top. Then, I broiled the stacks until the peaches softened and the edges of the bread crisped.

I partnered the tartines with a chilled glass of white wine and a green salad, and rather than making a supper I'd soon forget, I felt like I was treating myself. Bonus: It came together so quickly.

This combination was so appealing that I decided to poach boneless chicken breasts to make it again. I have tried this same preparation, with sliced figs and goat cheese as well as peaches and brie, with great results.

Little tweaks along the way have made it better. To give the sweet fruit, creamy dairy and mild chicken oomph, I added white pepper to the softened cheese before spreading it on the toast. Then, I topped it all off with a drizzle of good-quality balsamic vinegar, a few grinds of coarse black pepper and a generous sprinkling of arugula.

In France, a tartine for breakfast may be just toast slathered with butter and fruity jam. For lunch or supper, however, it remains simple, but more substantial with a favorite cheese, fruit or vegetables - even a protein.

A few things to keep in mind when building your own tartine:

  • Thinly slice the protein and fruit so it sits flat on the bread. I tried shredding the chicken and cutting it into bite-size pieces, but slicing made it prettier and less messy to eat.
  • Choose a wide, rustic bread, especially if you plan to pick up your tartine with your hands to eat it, which I like to do.
  • Brush your bread with extra-virgin olive and spread your cheese from edge to edge, so exposed bread does not dry out and burn when broiling.
  • Keep tasting and adjusting your combinations, especially to use up leftovers. I am thinking of apple and roasted pork slices, with Camembert and fresh thyme from my patio plants.
  • Don't skip that last step of broiling. It softens the fruit, melts the cheese and perfectly crisps up the edges of the bread. (I have a toaster oven for broiling, so I don't have to turn on the big oven, which I know can be a no-go in the heat of summer.)

And, yes, without that Gallic influence, I surely would call this an open-faced chicken and peach sandwich or simply a toast, as in still-trendy avocado toasts. I am sticking with tartine, though, because this humble creation deserves a pretty little name.

Peach, Blue Cheese and Chicken Tartines

(Recipe from recipes editor Ann Maloney.)

Active: 30 minutes | Total: 45 minutes

4 servings

This recipe includes instructions to quickly poach chicken breasts, but it would also be a great way to use up leftover chicken. Use a wide, country-style loaf of whole-wheat or multigrain bread for a heartier flavor. These tartines are best when eaten straight from the broiler.

Ingredients

For the chicken

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)

3 cloves garlic, smashed

1 (2-inch) sprig fresh rosemary, plus 1 tablespoon chopped, divided

1 dried bay leaf

1 teaspoon kosher salt

For the tartines

8 slices country bread, sliced thick and lightly toasted

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup (4 ounces) crumbled blue cheese

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

2 medium peaches (12 ounces), pitted and thinly sliced

Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

3 tablespoons good-quality balsamic vinegar

1 cup (about 1 ounce) baby arugula or other baby greens

Steps

Cut the chicken in half or thirds crosswise, depending on how large the pieces are. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine 3 to 4 cups water, the chicken, garlic, rosemary sprig, bay leaf and salt. Stir once or twice and slowly bring to barely a simmer - do not let the water come to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and gently cook until an instant-read thermometer reads 165 degrees when inserted into the thickest pieces of chicken, 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the water, let cool a few minutes, then slice it as thinly as possible; or shred with a fork and chop into bite-size pieces.

Position an oven rack 6 inches from the broiler element and turn on the broiler. Place the slices of toasted bread on a large, baking sheet and brush each slice edge-to-edge with the olive oil.

If the blue cheese is crumbly, place it in a small bowl and warm it in the microwave on HIGH 10 to 15 seconds, or until just softened. Add the white pepper and stir to combine. Put about 1 tablespoon of the cheese on each slice of bread and spread it in a thin layer to the edges.

Top each toast with about 2 ounces of the chicken, followed by 4 or 5 peach slices and 3 grinds of the black pepper.

Place the baking sheet under the broiler and broil 3 to 5 minutes, until the peaches begin to soften and the edges caramelize. Watch carefully to avoid burning.

Remove the tartines from the oven, sprinkle each with fresh rosemary and drizzle with about 1 teaspoon of the balsamic vinegar.

Plate the tartines and top with the arugula. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Nutrition | Calories: 554; Total Fat: 19 g; Saturated Fat: 5 g; Cholesterol: 121 mg; Sodium: 666 mg; Carbohydrates: 50 g; Dietary Fiber: 4 g; Sugars: 14 g; Protein: 47 g

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