Thursday, 11 August 2011 | 15 comments

Tomato tart

There’s really not much I can say about tomatoes-in-summer that hasn’t already been said. Recently, though, I’ve become fixated on the smell of tomato leaves and stems. The prickly-vegetal scent permeates the hands of any gardener working with the plant, or any marketgoer lucky enough to find tomatoes on the vine. A few weeks ago, I stuck my nose into a glass of rosé wine, and the most startling green-tomato scent overcame me. I didn’t want to drink it—I just sat there, smelling, over and over. Seriously: essence of strawberries and tomato leaves in that glass. I won’t soon forget it.But today we’re dealing with the fruit hanging on those stems and leaves, and specifically, those big, meaty types of that fruit that, to be honest, I generally avoid. They seem like sandwich tomatoes, and I don’t need tomatoes in the summer for a sandwich, for goodness sake! We have much more important tomato work to do. For this recipe, though, you’ll need them.The other thing you’ll need is puff pastry. Puff pastry is one of those things I “leave to the professionals”, subbing in a normal pie crust if I think it’ll work out and avoiding the recipe entirely if it won’t. “Leaving it to the professionals” is a famous last phrase, though. I wanted this tart badly enough that I googled around ’til I found something called a “rough puff” pastry that’s a bit of a cheater-pastry compared to full-on, layers-upon-layers-of-butter puff pastry. Maybe I’m just a glutton for punishment, though. It is August. You should probably just buy a sheet of frozen puff pastry, if that’s what you want. Buying frozen puff pastry to make this tart is a much better alternative than not making this tart at all.I have a torturous relationship with the ladies of Canal House Cooking (from afar, and of which they are completely unaware, as all good unrequited loves should be). Somehow a daily photo of what they eat for lunch says more than anything I write here. I become weak in the knees (it looks SO good! why didn’t I think of having that for lunch?) and simultaneously indignant (well, if EVERYONE got to hang out in a beautiful studio/kitchen all day where your only jobs are writing books and cooking and gardening and visiting farmer’s markets, then I would eat lunch like that every day too). Anyway—this is adapted from them; as usual, it is truly near-perfect, as is, in its simplicity. You will want to add parmesan, or gruyère, or salt it before putting it in the oven. I know you guys. Just don’t. Trust me.

Tomato tart

Adapted from Canal House Cooking, Volume No. 4

You will need

    1-2 big, meaty, sun-ripened tomatoes
    1 sheet of puff pastry
    A bundle of thyme
    Salt (the bigger- and flakier-grained, the better)
    Fresh ground pepper
    Good olive oil


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Slice the tomatoes into thin slabs through the middle. If the core is tough, remove it.

Place the sheet of puff pastry (if it was frozen, it should be defrosted first). With the tip of a knife, lightly score a border around the pastry to serve as the ‘crust’. Prick the area inside the border with the tines of a fork all over to prevent this area from puffing too much.

Starting with the largest tomato slabs, arrange the tomatoes inside the scored border. After you run out of room for full tomato slices, cut the slices in half and arrange to more or less fill the space.(Do you remember tangrams? It’s kind of like that.) Do not overlap tomato slices, or it will be too liquidy for the delicate pastry to handle without getting soggy.

(You will probably have leftover bits and pieces of tomatoes, but don’t waste them! I know from experience that one way to remedy your tomato-scrap problem is to get some goat cheese out of the fridge and eat the tomatoes with the cheese and salt and pepper, right over your cutting board.)

Strip the thyme leaves from their stems and scatter all over the tomatoes.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until tomatoes are roasted and crust is golden brown all over.

Remove from the oven. Sprinkle with salt, ground pepper, and drizzle all over with olive oil.

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§ 15 responses to Tomato tart

  • Lemoncello

    This looks delish! Why do you say no cheese?

    • It is just so good, simply, like this. What I didn’t write is that I made two—one where I tried to improve the Canal House recipe with some oozy cheese But it’s too much for the delicate crust, and, moreover, the tomato comes through so amazingly without anything else but the salt, olive oil, and pepper. Seriously. Cheese on the side, sure. With a light red wine, too :)

  • Pam

    Looks wonderful! Can’t wait to try it! Thanks

  • I love the smell of tomato leaves and stems! This simple tart looks right up my ally, thanks!

    • Hi Jacqui: maybe I’m not crazy, then? I’ve since been informed that what I was smelling in that wine was probably a flaw, but I would have bought a bottle just because I loved the tomato stemminess so much. Thanks for stopping by—and I’m going to give all you PNWers credit for the amazing cooler weather that’s swept the mid-Atlantic, thanks for sending it our way :)

  • Mmm…I’m totally obsessed with tomato tarts this summer. Here’s the one I made last night:

  • Why is it the simplest food is sometimes the last we think to make, but more often than not, the most satisfying? This looks amazing. I will have to try it… Thank you!

  • Yum! Love the simplicity of this dish and highlighting the taste of tomato.

  • I found you randomly on Pinterest and I made this tart last night – DELICIOUS! I am so happy I decided to heed your advice and skip the cheese. The beautiful sweetness of the tomatoes against the herbs and the bread was divine!

  • Delish! Please note; yes I was dying to add cheese……. First time I followed directions exactly; did cut back baking time due to variance in my oven & it was yummy but a bit soggy as I used packaged puff pastry. Second time I dried the tomatoes on paper towels & it worked like charm but felt since I used packaged puff pastry the ratio was off pastry to tomato. Third time I cut tomatoes thicker & placed on a rack for several hours to drain & patted them off with paper towels & this was the trick for me. I also grated some with asiago lightly after the tart came out of the oven the third try & it worked just fine! I loved the thicker tomato with the packaged puff pastry. This is a great dish for side with salad or soup. THX!!!!

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