Cottage Cooking Club: October 2015

Tomato Basil Mozz Tart

After taking a hiatus for September, I’m back in the game for the Cottage Cooking Club, an on-line group working their way through Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg. October is a month of transition. The weather makes a definite shift from summer to fall, and the harvest in my backyard garden and at local farms winds down. From the choices our group leader, Andrea, The Kitchen Lioness, selected for this month, I chose to make the most of the end-of-season tomatoes before wishing them farewell until next summer.

First up was the Tomato, Basil, and Mozzarella Tart. Anyone who follows my cooking knows that tarts are one of my favorite kinds of food to make. This recipe starts with puff pastry which is my nemesis. Well, store-bought puff pastry causes me trouble. Homemade rough puff pastry is much easier for me to deal when I have time to make it, which I didn’t this month. Instead, I used my favorite pastry crust recipe as the base for my tart.

Uncooked Tart

First, I sprinkled some slivered garlic on top of the partially-baked crust. Then, I covered it with halved cherry tomatoes fresh out of my garden, and scattered chunks of burrata on top. When the tart came out of the oven, I added the final touch: slivered basil leaves (the last of my garden crop). This tart screamed of all the best flavors of summer. Howard said it tasted like a pizza margherita, on pie crust. We also decided that I should have fully baked the crust before adding the toppings because the tomatoes’ juices make it a little bit soggy. This is a tart that I will revisit earlier in the season next year because I can’t wait to make it again.

Tomatoes Before Drying

The other recipe I made was the Oven-Dried Tomatoes. I had admired these when other CCC members made them last summer. I bought a big basket of the last tomatoes from Wilson Farm and slow roasted as many tomatoes as fit on one large pan. A friend had just given me a big bunch of thyme to dry, so I scattered a few on top of the tomatoes along with some broken bay leaves, olive oil, and salt and pepper. The recipe suggested they roast for 4 to 5 hours to be moistly dry. I opted not to remove the seeds, so for me, with all the extra moisture attached to the seeds and their gel, it took closer to 7 hours to get them to the right level of moist dryness. The long slow roast concentrated the tomato flavor, and they tasted (and smelled) amazing. Not having a plan on how to use them, I tossed them in more olive oil and put them in the fridge while I decided.

Oven Dried Tomatoes

After much thought, I decided to use my oven-dried tomatoes in a pan of baked ziti. Typically, cooked ziti is tossed with a marinara or other tomato sauce and them layered with mozzarella cheese before baking. Because I was using tomatoes instead of sauce, I took a slightly different approach. I tossed cooked ziti with a mixture of ricotta and pesto, then layered the noodles with coarsely chopped oven-dried tomatoes and a blend of mozzarella and Parmesan. We loved it!

Baked Ziti made with Oven-Dried Tomatoes

Baked Ziti made with Oven-Dried Tomatoes

With this pair of tomato recipes behind me, I’m feeling ready to let the summer go and move on to winter squash, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli. I’m glad to be back with the Cottage Cooking Club, and I’m excited for Andrea to reveal her delicious choices for enjoying autumn’s vegetables as we move into November.

Baked Ziti with Ricotta
Serves 8

1 lb ziti
1 lb ricotta cheese
½ cup pesto (purchased or made from your favorite recipe)
1 recipe of Hugh’s Oven-Dried Tomatoes (made from about 2½ lbs tomatoes)
½ lb mozzarella cheese, shredded
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Boil a large pot of water, add about 1 Tbsp salt, and cook the pasta to just shy of al dente (about 9 minutes), then drain.

While the pasta is cooking, prepare the other ingredients:

  • Whisk together the ricotta and pesto until well blended.
  • Coarsely chop the tomatoes.
  • Combine the mozzarella and Parmesan.

Stir the ricotta mixture into the drained pasta to coat evenly.

In a large baking pan, layer half the pasta, half the tomatoes, and half the mozzarella/Parmesan. Repeat for a second layer.

Bake for 30 minutes, until everything is bubbly.


Posted on 28 October 2015, in Cottage Cooking Club, tomatoes. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Love your tart, Betsy. So different from mine. I had done the over-dried tomatoes before but think your Baked Zita with Ricotta was a great way to use them. Welcome back. While I’m ready for a change of seasons, I am not ready for the snow and ice and cold we had this week!

  2. Hi. Glad you are back with your blog. Missed you.xxxxxxxx

    Sent from my iPad


  3. Hi Betsy, first I want to say how sorry I am about your father. Glad you are back. Love the baked ziti that you made with the oven roasted tomatoes. Also that tomato tart looks amazing! Take care…….

  4. peggygilbey814628432

    Hi Betsy, so wonderful to see you. Your tart looks lovely and happy that you enjoyed it. Thinking of you and wishing you the best, great to see you on CCC!

  5. TheKitchenLioness

    Dear Betsy, so very nice to have you back – I am sending you another big fat hug and hope that you have started to feel better…
    Onto your wonderful Tomato tart – I know that you love to work with rough puff pastry whenever possible and it always sounds like a recipe I absolutely should try some day. Your tart looks wonderful with all that melted cheese on top and all those late summer tomatoes. Your oven-dried tomatoes look delightful in your baked ziti dish – now you made me hungry again. I will make sure to scout for those fall tomatoes around here and get to it – 7 hours sounds like a long time, I think I will de-seed those tomatoes after all.
    Wonderful dishes – I am glad that you and Howard enjoyed them so much!
    Thank you for your continued particpation in The Cottage Cooking Club!
    Take good care of yourself and let me know if you need anything!

  6. Oh to still have garden-fresh tomatoes. Your tart is beautiful and I’m happy to learn that it works well with other pastries. I’ve stashed my dried tomatoes away in the freezer but I’m now wanting to try your baked ziti recipe; the use of pesto and the tomatoes is inspired. I’m also looking forward to the November recipes.

  7. I’m so glad you’re back on your blog. Both the tart and the oven-dried tomatoes turned out beautifully. And your ziti recipe is making me wish I had some oven-dried tomatoes in the fridge!

  8. The tomato and mozarella tart looks sensational!

  9. I don’t want to let go of summer!!!! (But I don’t think I have a choice).

    However, you have drummed up a fitting tribute to summer’s end.

  10. Ooooh, Betsy! I might just have to do the oven-roasted tomatoes (we’re still going strong here) and make that ziti recipe. Mmmmm… Looks like you had a good month! By the way, with your beets comment on my blog–it is so interesting how everyone has different preferences and how they can seem so odd! I know it is so weird that I don’t like roasted beets–they’re sugary!–but it just doesn’t float my boat and I can totally see how someone would really dislike raw beets. :) Cheers, Betsy, and happy November!

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