Tomato Tart: Making Summer Dreams Come True
The greatest gift of August is seeing our tomato vines top heavy with fruit, struggling to stay upright. Yes, tomatoes can be purchased all year round. But if you call that November-ripened ball of flesh a tomato, you need to re-examine your life. The sun-plumped gems of August are what those other tomatoes aspire to be: sweet, firm, and fragrant of the earth.
My absolute favorite way to enjoy a tomato of this stature is Epicurious' Tomato, Goat Cheese and Onion Tart, or Tomato Tart for short. It’s comprised of four simple (and fairly obvious) elements: pie crust (a nice buttery one like Martha Stewart’s Pate Brisee), goat cheese, caramelized onions, and of course, fresh tomatoes. The pie crust gives the dish a slightly decadent, but not indulgent, taste. Dollops of creamy goat cheese add a velvety tang, a perfect foil to the natural sweetness of the tomato and caramelized onions. Together, these ingredients layer into a late summer symphony of flavor fit for a Vivaldi. All that’s left is to pop open a crisp bottle of white or rose, and sink down around an al fresco dinner table. This is the dinner that summer dreams are made of.
Tomato, Onion and Goat Cheese Tart
This recipe is a slightly adapted version of the one found at Epicurious.com.
The recipe below is for one 9" tart, which according to Epicurious, serves four (4). In my family, one tart is not nearly enough for four people - we need at least two. And since the Martha Stewart pie dough recipe makes enough for two 9" tarts, you might as well double the rest of the ingredients and make two. You won't regret it.
Ingredients (for one tart):
1 recipe of Martha Stewart's Pate Brisse pie dough (or any buttery pie dough)
3 Tablespoons of olive oil
1 large onion, very thinly sliced
6 oz crumbled goat cheese
1 lb tomato, thinly sliced, crosswise
Special Equipment: a 9" tart with removable bottom, pie weights (or raw rice/dry beans).
Make the pie dough and let it chill for at least one hour.
Pre-heat the oven to 375°
In a 12" heavy skillet, heat two tablespoons of olive oil.
Thinly slice the onion, and sautée in the olive oil until soft and golden brown.
The Epicurious recipe says this will take 15-20 minutes. When time allows, I like to caramelize them on lower heat, and for longer - about an hour. The onions will become sweeter and creamier - worth the extra time if you have it!
While the onions are caramelizing, roll out your pie dough into an 11" circle, and fit it in the tart pan. Make sure it goes up the sides, and trim any excess dough from the edges. Tip: Use the scraps to reinforce any spots where the dough may be a bit thin.
Using a fork, poke holes in the bottom of the pie crust. This will help release steam from the crust and prevent it from getting puffed up and uneven.
Line the pie shell with foil and fill with the pie weights/rice/beans. Make sure the edges of the crust are covered.
Bake the crust in the middle of the oven until it is pale golden around the edges, about 20 minutes.
Carefully removed the weights and foil, and bake until golden all over - 8 to 10 minutes more.
Cool in the pan on a wire rack.
Slice your tomatoes, keeping the slices as thin as possible (Vegetable Butcher trick: use a serrated knife).
Move the rack so that it is about 7" from the broiler. Pre-heat the broiler, turning it on High.
Spread the caramelized onions on the bottom of the pie crust.
Sprinkle 1 cup of the goat cheese over the onion.
Arrange the tomatoes, slightly overlapping, in concentric circles over the cheese.
Sprinkle the remaining goat cheese on top.
Drizzle remaining olive oil over tomatoes, sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.
Put foil over the edge of the crust to prevent burning.
Pop the tart under the broiler, and keep there for 3-4 minutes, or until the cheese starts to brown slightly.
Remove from the oven, let it cool slightly, and serve!