My friend, Andrea, took me to lunch recently at her favorite DC sandwich shop.

She swooned over the tartines — those elegant, open-face sandwiches ubiquitous in French bistros.

They were delicious. So much so, that when another friend announced she was moving cross-country, I invited her for some tartines of my own: Crusty bread iced with an olive oil-whipped ricotta and topped with tomatoes, avocados, red onions and preserved lemon. The cheese and avocados were creamy; the tomatoes, sweet. The red onion was tart (crunchy, too!); the preserved lemons, salty and a bit exotic. We ate the concoctions with a knife and fork and pretended we were at that DC shop.

Or a bistro along the Seine.

Avocado Tartines (adapted from Prune)

This served two of us nicely. Double up if you want to feed four.

  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1/4 cup olive oil plus more for drizzling
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 4 slices of 1/2-inch-thick sourdough or peasant-style bread
  • 1 large avocado, peeled, pitted and cut into 1/3- to 1/2-inch- thick slices
  • 4 campari tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • Thinly sliced red onion (as much as you want)
  • Finely diced peel from half a preserved lemon
  • Pink sea salt

Carefully whisk the ricotta, 1/4 cup olive oil and lemon zest in a small bowl until loose and fluffy. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside or cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat your broiler. Lay the bread onto a rimmed baking sheet. Broil until nicely browned on one side. This takes about 5 minutes, but start checking after 3 minutes have passed. When the bread has browned on one side, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool.

To assemble:

Place the bread, browned side down, on a nice serving plate.

Spread with a generous spoonful of ricotta.

Top with the avocado and tomato slices, then top with the onion.

Sprinkle on the preserved lemon.

Drizzle the tartines with olive oil and sprinkle with the pink sea salt.

Serve immediately.