In Belgium, there is a certain bakery-cafe chain that claims that the tartine is a “signature Belgian open-faced sandwich”. I don’t understand what is characteristically Belgian about a piece of bread with various ingredients piled on top. If you ask me, a Belgian tartine looks like a Norweigian smørbrød or Russian buterbrod!

Asparagus, green and white, have been appearing in the supermarkets and markets in the past weeks. This is the season for eating these ‘spears’ in Belgium before they make way for beets, eggplants, Brussels sprouts and more. ‘Tis also the time of the year when you are more likely to smell something peculiar in the toilet as more asparagus are being served in restaurants. This is because “our bodies convert asparaguisic acid into sulfur-containing chemicals that stink“!

Onto something more pleasant… Given the abundance of these relatively fresh and cheap asparagus (compared to those that have been flown in from Peru), I decided to buy some to make an asparagus on toast recipe that I saw in The New York Times’ T Magazine.

Here’s my adaptation of Chris Fischer’s recipe with some notes in italics:

PICKLED CARROT
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut in half long thin strips
½ cup vinegar
2 tbsp gin – I used original Bombay gin (not the more aromatic Bombay Sapphire)
½ cup water
¼ tsp black peppercorns
½ tsp honey
Salt

Combine the vinegar, gin and water in a small pot and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Add the peppercorns and honey. When the honey has dissolved, pour the pickling liquid over the carrots in a jar. Cover and refrigerate, ideally overnight for the carrot to absorb the different flavours. The pickle will keep for a month in the refrigerator. NOTE: The original recipe says to blanch the carrot first. I like my carrot slightly crunchy plus the one that I had was becoming limpid. So I skipped the first step and went straight to heating the liquids.

GRIBICHE
2 eggs, boiled and roughly chopped
1 bunch fresh parsley, leaves picked and chopped – use however much you like to your taste

5 tbsp olive oil – the original recipe calls for an additional tablespoon. I prefer the mixture to be thicker so had used a little less oil

3 scallions/green onions, finely chopped
Pickled carrot, chopped
1 tbsp of the pickling liquid
Salt

Mix parsley and olive oil. Add the scallions, pickled carrot, eggs and pickling liquid. Season with salt, to taste. Note: If you have any leftover gribiche, this goes well with salads and white fish.

ASPARAGUS + TOAST
16 thin asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 3-inch lengths – this may vary depending on the size of the bread slices

2 tbsp olive oil – original recipe uses butter

Juice from ½ lemon

3 scallions/green onions, finely chopped
4 slices of bread, toasted – I used a light rye bread instead of regular sliced white bread
Salt

Preheat oven to 220°C / 430°F. Roast the asparagus on a lightly greased surface until they turn bright green and just tender. Remove them from the oven before they turn soft. Season with salt and lemon juice.

ASSEMBLING THE TARTINE
This is the easiest part. Put the asparagus on the toasted bread and top each serving with a generous dollop of gribiche. Best eaten with fork and knife or risk having egg or olive oil falling onto your clothes when you eat 😉

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3 replies on “Asparagus gribiche toast

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