Guest Feature: Heirloom Tomato Tart
Last Sunday morning, I was enjoying coffee and pancakes with my family over an episode of “Goldie and Bear.” Usually I’m half tuned in to my daughter’s cartoons, but one of the scenes in this episode caught my eye. “Goldie’s Do-Over Day,” a story about a spell “that lets you do things over. lt comes in handy when you make a mistake.”
I flashed to several years ago, one Friday night, when I attempted to make homemade pizza for my friends. I’ll never forget my roommate Amber and our friend Josh, who kindly ate the toppings off of raw, burnt pizza dough, to spare my feelings. Thinking about that night, I started to have memories of about a million other baking mishaps. Like Goldie, I would have used “do-over” potion again and again, if I had it.
But as the episode continued, the spell began to backfire. Goldie became increasingly more obsessed with being perfect. Re-doing everything just led to different mistakes, even worse than the original. And ironically, the more attempts at being flawless, the more flaws.
When I think back to my pizza gone wrong, I don’t feel any disappointment. I only remember laughing with my friends. Amber and Josh’s willingness to endure indigestion sealed our bond for life. It also set me on a mission to find an alternative. The result of my research: an easy and creative twist on homemade pizza….An Heirloom Tomato Tart.
This recipe is one of my favorites because it allows some wiggle room, a little margin for error. The measurements and the ingredients don’t have to be exact and the tomatoes can be mixed and matched. Any grated cheese will do. I’ve never made it exactly the same way, mostly because I measured something wrong, or ran out of this or that. But, flaws and all, I’ve never needed a “do-over.”
When my friend Nicole told me she would be in town with her family, I knew this Tart was the exact dish that I wanted to make for them. And just as I had hoped, our kids couldn’t resist joining in on the process. A little too much flour, an extra scoop of mustard, and a few uneven handfuls of cheese later, the tart was still…perfect, my favorite version yet.
So, maybe it’s a good thing that we don’t have access to a “do-over” potion the moment we stumble. So often, the mis-steps are what force courage and creativity that we never knew we had. And sometimes those little blunders guide us toward an unplanned evening of laughter. To my friends Amber and Josh, it’s been 10 years since pizza night at the Irene Apartments. Since then, we’ve all come a long way. As for dinner, I think it’s officially time for a “do-over!“
Inspired by Anna’s Tomato Tart, recipe by Ina Garten
- TART CRUST:
- 2.5 Cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 Teaspoon salt
- 12 Tablespoons (1.5 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 2 Egg yolks
- ½ Cup ice water
- TART TOPPINGS:
- 2.5 lbs ripe heirloom tomatoes
- 2 Cups fresh basil leaves, torn
- 2 Small garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon dried herbes de provence
- 1 Teaspoon salt
- 1 Teaspoon pepper
- ½ Cup extra virgin olive oil
- 6 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 16 ounces shredded gruyere cheese
- 6-8 ounces (1 cup) grated parmesan cheese
- Make The Tart Dough:
- In a food processor, add flour and salt. Pulse a few times to mix. Add in cubed butter, then pulse several times until the butter looks like little pebbles. Add egg yolks, then pulse again to incorporate. While the food processor is running, stream in ice water just until a dough forms. It should be lumpy, and craggy. Line a flat surface with plastic wrap, and turn out the dough directly onto the plastic wrap. With your hands, pat into a disk, tightly wrap with the plastic wrap, and place in the fridge for 30 minutes or up to three days in advance.
- When you are ready to bake the dough, preheat oven to 400 degrees, and take the dough out of the fridge.
- Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Dust some flour on a flat surface, then unwrap the cold dough. Before rolling out the dough, pat with a rolling pin to soften and flatten it a bit. This helps prevent the dough from cracking when you roll it out. With a rolling pin, roll the dough into a rectangle to fit the cookie sheet. Gently drape the dough over the lined sheet, cutting off any edges that spill over. It doesn’t have to be perfect. You can use dough scraps like silly putty, to fill in any cracks at the edges of the cookie sheet. Place the second sheet of parchment paper directly on top of the tart dough, then layer the second cookie sheet over the parchment paper. Bake for 15 minutes.
- While the dough is baking, Slice the tomatoes, about a ¼ inch thick, then place in a bowl. At this time, you can Prepare the herb mixture
- In a food processor, add the basil, garlic, salt, pepper, and herbes de provence. Pulse a few times to chop.
- While the motor is running, stream in olive oil to create a dressing. Pour herb dressing over the tomatoes, and toss until all tomatoes are covered. Set aside.
- After the dough bakes for the initial 15 minutes in the oven, remove from the oven, then remove the top cookie sheet and parchment paper. Prick the dough all over with a fork, then pop back into the oven for 8-10 more minutes. You will no longer need the top layer of parchment paper or the top cookie sheet. At this time, grate the cheeses.
- Remove the crust from the oven, then reduce the heat to 375 degrees.
- Begin To Build The Tart:
- Start by brushing the mustard onto the warm tart crust. Sprinkle generously with cheeses, making sure to reserve a little bit for the top.
- Layer the herbed tomato slices over the cheese. Sprinkle remaining cheese over the tomatoes, then place back in the oven.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly. Allow the tart to cool about 10 minutes before slicing.
Leigh is a Middle School Teacher of French and a Mom to a busy four year old. She loves to entertain family and friends, and prepare daily dishes for her husband and daughter. Leigh’s meals are often influenced by her mom’s love of cooking. Leigh also creates recipes based on her experiences of living and working in the south of France. She often uses food to provide authentic experiences for her students as well. On Fridays, it’s not uncommon to see her students making crèpes and sampling French “fromage,” as part of their lesson. Always inspired by fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients, Leigh’s dishes are simple, tasty, and always made with her family in mind. Her daughter, now three, is an enthusiastic helper in the kitchen. A lover of mealtime with family and warm summer nights, Leigh is excited to share some of her favorite recipes. Follow Leigh on her Instagram account @arecipeforeveryseason