Recipe: Tomato Tart

There can be a lot of fear involved with tarts. There is the fear of too much butter in the crust, too much work involved with rolling it out, too much clean up involved after rolling it out and just a general fear of will it taste good after all of that?

What I have to say to you? “Hey, don’t worry ’bout it. It’s a tart, not a tarantula.”

Here’s my tricks:

1. Buy ripe tomatoes. You don’t have to squeeze them, you just have to smell them. If they are a deep, dark red and smell like a ripe tomato, chances are that’s what you’ll get.

2. Roast or don’t roast the tomato. If the tomatoes are so beautiful it makes you want to sit down and eat them that minute with nothing between you and the tomato but a bowl of salt, then make a delicious tomato salad and serve that on top of the tart.

3. If you roast, halve and seed the tomatoes, toss with salt, olive oil, slivers of shallot, onion, or garlic, and sprigs of thyme. You could even throw in a few crushed coriander seeds.

4. Here is the recipe for the crust: 7 tablespoons of cold unsalted butter, 1 scant cup flour, pinch of sugar, pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon of excellent corn meal. (I like Bob’s Red Mill.) Combine the dry ingredients in a food processor along with the butter. Pulse until you think it’s nearly done, but not quite. You are NOT looking for an even texture of pea size bits of butter. You are looking for a rough texture of some bits pea size, some almond sized and no more dry flour. Add 1 tablespoon of plain yogurt and just enough ice water, added in drops, to make the dough come together. It should not look uniform. Press into wax paper and freeze for half an hour.

5. Here’s the good part: GRATE the dough all over a tart pan, and lightly press the bits into the bottom and a bit up the sides.
Freeze again for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and bake until light golden brown.

6. Right before serving, roughly chop your roasted tomatoes and arrange on the tart shell, along with everything else you put on the roasting tray. That’s it–no need to put it back in the oven. Top with slivers of extra sharp Cheddar (I love Cabot’s President’s Select sealed with purple wax.)–or slices of goat cheese or a grate of gruyere…

And that’s it. No worries about rolling, or that a custard is going to leak and ruin your crust, or that you’re going to undercook or overcook.

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