AAAIGH! Whaddo I do with all this basil and squash?!

Sick of pesto pasta salad? Me too! That’s why I trolled around for an alternative delivery system for all the pesto I need to make before this weekend, when the temperature’s likely gonna drop way below basil-tolerance parameters. Marché does these tasty little tartines for lunch–which sounds fancy, but is really just an open-faced sandwich with a French accent. I also am not so strong in the how-to-cook-squash department, so I trolled around online for ideas. Here’s what I adapted to use up my Farmer’s Market yellow squash, homemade bread, and basil:


Squash and Pesto Tartines

First, prepare the squash: Cut it into 1/2 in. slices. Spread olive oil, coarse, fresh cracked pepper and salt on a baking sheet. Lay out the squash slices, drizzle with a little oil, sprinkle on salt and pepper, and grate some Parmesan onto the slices. Bake at 350 for, I dunno, 20 minutes? Until it looks right.

Make the pesto. You probably already know how. I use one basil plant for each batch. Rinse off the bugs and spiderwebs, throw it in with some parmesan, salt, olive oil, a garlic clove, and some pine nuts. How much of all this stuff? I dunno, some. If you need more detailed measurements, go here.

Buy some nice, crusty bread from a decent place or, if it’s a Sunday afternoon and you’re feeling ambitious, make it. Here’s a recipe I’ve been using, and every time I take this bread to a dinner party people think I actually know something.

What works best is to mix up the dough on the weekend, then stick it in the fridge. You’ll have enough dough for 4 loaves, and it’ll last for 2 weeks. The tartine recipe is especially good using this bread. There are a couple of hurdles–like making room in the fridge for a big batch of dough, for example, and transferring the wet dough from the pizza peel to the stone without it sticking to everything. I’ve learned a few tricks, so if you have problems, post your questions on this page.

Trick #1 (for making space in fridge for dough): Throw some nasty $#!& away. Do you really need the half jar of pickle relish and the 2-year old tub of sour cream?

Trick #2 (for sticky dough): Make it ahead of time and don’t try to form loaves until it has spent at least 2 hours in the fridge.

Cut the bread into thick slices, smear on the pesto, and spread squash slices on. Top with a little more Parmesan and pop in the oven (on the same peppery olive oiled cookie sheet) for 5 minutes to melt the Parmesan and crisp the bread.

Simple, good, and possessing a sophisticated name that will impress your friends. If they are of a more conservative, anti-French bent, call it a &$^#*%@ sandwich.

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