Summer showstopper: tomato, herb & cheese tart

The recipe today is not my original creation, but one I have altered slightly for my largest tart pan. I’ve been in love with this recipe since 1993 when it appeared in Bon Appetite Magazine as the first course in a French themed dinner party feature. This one recipe includes 4 of my favorite ingredients all in one recipe – fresh herbs, fresh tomatoes, Gruyère cheese and butter. The tomatoes are just coming into season in my area and these are in indeed local – from my patio!

My daughter just plucked these tomatoes – our first of the season (her first home-grown ‘maters in her life) a few days ago. They turned out to be just barely under-ripe so we had to wait an excruciating 2 more days to use (eat) them. Of course I already knew I had to make “the tart” – I had been fantasizing about it since the day we stuck those plants in their pots over 6 weeks ago. It is my traditional “first tomato” recipe – well after slicing into one of the beauties to selfishly (and secretly) build and devour a BLT – with a slather of mayo on toasted bread. Yum.

This ‘pie’ looks and smells so lovely – like summer in a tart pan. The tender crusts presents a buttery stage for the tomatoes, herbs and cheese to shine. The original recipe makes a slightly larger tart but since my largest pan with a removable bottom is 12 inches in diameter I adjusted the recipe. Usually I still have a little dough left over. This is a delicious chef’s (or chef’s helper) treat – roll out the dough thin, sprinkle with fresh Parmesan, cut into strips, bake and voilà, delicious “straws”.

You can also make this tart into individual sized portions with small tart pans and  the recipe can easily be doubled if you need tarts for a crowd. I love this as a first course with a glass of pinot noir or cool Prosecco.  Add a side salad and you’ ve got a nice light lunch. The tart keeps very well refrigerated for a day or two after baking… if any lasts that long!

Herbs from my garden (patio pots) as well the tomatoes. The crust is simple to make and I am not showing a step by step on it, but the recipe is below.

Drain the tomato slices on paper towels.

Oregano, basil and thyme washed, dried and minced.

Slice the cheese fairly thin but more importantly in an even thickness. I like Gruyère but Emmenthal is very good too.

Roll out the dough quickly and use a light touch.

With an especially buttery dough, like this recipe, I find it easier to use the rolling pin to assist in moving the rolled out dough to the pan.

remove the excess dough from around the edge of the crust and prick the bottom and sides with a fork (or use foil with pie weights). Freeze for 15 minutes before pre-baking.

Layer the cheese slices first in the cooled crust.

Next, add the drained tomato slices, overlapping a little.

Here come the herbs! Sprinkle the grated Parmesan cheese on top and a few cracks of fresh pepper add zing.

Out of the oven posing with it’s “name sake” recipe from Bon Appetite, circa 1993. Relatively few – but exceedingly fresh – ingredients and a quick-to-put-together butter crust make this a summer showstopper.

Tomato, Herb & Cheese Tart

  • 1 recipe crust (see below)
  • 3-4 ripe tomatoes, cut into ¼” slices
  • 6 ounces Emmenthal or Gruyère cheese, sliced thin
  • 1 tbl. minced fresh oregano or 1 tsp. dried
  • 1 tbl. minced fresh basil or 1 tsp dried
  • 1 tbl. minced fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried
  • 3 tbl. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh cracked pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out crust on a lightly floured surface to approx. 12-inch diameter and turn into a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Trim edges. Freeze for 15 minutes.

Line crust with foil and use pie weights to hold the crust down while it bakes OR simply prick all around with a fork. Bake until crust is set, about 15 minutes. Cool on rack.

Cut each tomato slice in half and place on paper towels to drain 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Top crust with Emmenthal or Gruyère cheese. Arrange tomatoes on atop cheese overlapping slightly. Sprinkle with herbs and then the Parmesan cheese. Season with a couple of cracks of pepper if you wish.

Bake until cheese melts and tomatoes are softened, about 35 minutes. Cool slightly, remove tart pan sides. Cut into slices and serve.

Crust

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 6 oz. unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 3-4 tbl. ice water

Combine flour and salt in a medium-mixing bowl. Cut in butter with a fork or pastry bender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add enough water by tablespoons for moist clumps to form. Gather into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to rest for 30 minutes.

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