It’s All About the Tomatoes
The tomatoes are at their best right now. I’m dreading the day, and I know it will be sooner than I’d like it to be, when the tomatoes are done for the year. It will be a sad day.
In the meantime, just as Howard is obsessed with daily ears of corn, I feel the same about tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, or regular old Jet Star tomatoes, they are all so good right now.
There are so many different ways to eat them. Plain old sliced tomatoes, tomatoes with spiced salt, with fresh mozzarella in a Salad Caprese. This week I was on a tomato tart kick. I made two different tarts and have a third planned for tomorrow.
The first tart was adapted from a recipe from David Lebowitz’s website. An unbaked pastry crust is slathered with a mixture of Dijon and seeded mustards. Sliced tomatoes are layered on top, then sprinkled with slivered basil, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, and topped with slices of fresh goat cheese. The tart is baked until the cheese on top is starting to brown. The sharp mustard flavor is a nice counterpoint to the sweet tomatoes and the tangy goat cheese. This tart was a hit.
French Tomato Mustard Tart
Adapted from this recipe from David Lebovitz
Serves 4 to 6
- 1½ cups flour
- 4½ oz unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 large egg
- 2-3 Tbsp cold water
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp whole-grain (seeded) mustard
2-3 large tomatoes, sliced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp slivered basil (or other fresh herbs)
3 oz fresh goat cheese, sliced into 6 or 7 rounds
Preheat the oven to 425F.
Combine the flour and salt in a bowl. Add the butter, and using a pastry cutter or your hands, rub the butter into the flour until it has the texture of cornmeal. Whisk the egg with 2 Tbsp of water. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture then stir in the egg mixture with a fork, until the dough holds together. If it doesn’t come together, add the extra tablespoon of water.
On a floured surface, roll the tart dough into a 12-inch round. Fit the pastry into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Fold the edges over to reinforce the sides of the tart. Run the rolling pin across the top of the pastry to make it flush with the top of the pan. Place the tart pan on a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. (The parchment will make it easier to lift the warm tart pan off the baking sheet later.)
Whisk together the two mustards in a small bowl. Spread on the base of the pastry crust. Layer the tomatoes on top of the mustard. Sprinkle with the chopped herbs, then drizzle with the olive oil Finally, arrange goat cheese rounds on top of the tomatoes.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until the dough is cooked and the cheese is browned. Tomatoes should be tender.
The second tart recipe came from my sister Jane. The crust for this tart is made from several sheets of phyllo dough brushed with garlicky butter and stacked. The crust is topped with a layer of shredded mozzarella cheese. Next come the sliced tomatoes and topped with a generous sprinkle of crumbled feta cheese. After baking, the tart gets sprinkled with slivered basil.
This tart wasn’t as good as the other, but has possibilities. For one thing, my phyllo sheets were sort of small, maybe 8½ x 11. I have a feeling that I should have used two slightly overlapped sheets for each layer to make a bigger tart. I can see puff pastry working as another option. Also, I used fresh mozzarella, and I think that was a mistake. I can’t believe I’m saying this but supermarket mozzarella would have been sturdier and might not have tasted as watery. All the flavors should work together, so I think I need to give it another chance with these adjustments.
Tomato Phyllo Tart
¼ cup butter, melted
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 sheets of phyllo dough
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tomatoes, sliced
4 oz feta cheese, crumbed
¼ cup slivered basil leaves
Lightly oil a large baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 375F.
Combine the butter and garlic. Place 1 phyllo sheet on the pan. Brush with butter mixture. Repeat with the remaining phyllo sheets and butter mixture.
Sprinkle phyllo with mozzarella to within 2 inches of the edges. Top with sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle with feta. Roll phyllo edges to form rim. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until phyllo is crisp and cheese is melted. Sprinkle with basil just before serving.
Finally, I’m planning to make this Spicy Tomato Pie for lunch tomorrow.
How many more delicious tomato dishes can I make before the season’s over? If you have any suggestions, send them my way!