Sunday, October 14, 2007

Last of the season - Tomatoes

In our area, we are reaching the end of the local tomato season. So, on our way home last weekend from a local festival, we decided to take advantage of some good-lookin' organic vine-ripened tomatoes from one of the road-side farm stands. I've been a fan of the blog 101 Cookbooks for awhile, and Heidi's parmesan tomato tart recipe was calling my name :)

This tart really features the tomatoes, since they are not cooked - so make sure whatever tomatoes you choose are really sweet and perfect (the original recipe uses heirloom tomatoes). The tart crust is totally delicous - this is the perfect choice as a starter for any meal (if you make the individual tarts like I did) or a main course if you make the larger version (like Heidi did).

(note: I modified the amount of tomatoes and other ingredients to make four smaller-sized tarts; since there are not many ingredients, it was not difficult. The recipe that follows is the original with very minor ingredient modifications). The directions seem a bit complicated, but actually, it was a very simple dough to make and did not take very long at all!
6 medium-sized heirloom tomatoes - washed and sliced 1/6-inch thick
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter, well chilled + cut into 1/4-inch cubes
4-ounce chunk of good fresh parmesan, microplane-grated (you should end up with about 2 cups loosely packed grated cheese. Save any leftover grated cheese for sprinkling on the crusts when they come out of the oven.)
2 tablespoons ice cold water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup silvered basil

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

2. Prep the tomatoes: To avoid a soggy crust later on, you need to rid the tomatoes of some of their liquid. Clear a space on your counter and put down a double layer of paper towels. Place the tomatoes in a single layer on the paper towels and sprinkle them with about 1 teaspoon of the salt. Top the tomatoes with another layer of paper towels and press gently. Let the tomatoes sit here until you are ready to use them.

3. Make the tart crust(s): Place both flours, butter, and cheese in a food processor and pulse quickly about 25 times. You are looking for a sandy textured blend, punctuated with pea-sized pieces of butter. With a few more pulses, blend in the 2T of ice water. The dough should stick together when your pinch it between two fingers. Pour the dough into the tart pan. Working quickly, press the dough uniformly into the pan by pressing across the bottom and working towards the sides and up to form a rim. Place in the refrigerator and chill for 15 minutes.

4. Bake the tart crust: Pull the tarts out of the refrigerator and poke each a few times with the tongs of a fork. Cover the tart with a square of aluminum foil and fill generously with pie weights (I used dried beans). Place on a baking sheet and slide the tart onto the middle rack in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, pull the shell out of the oven and very gently peel back and remove the tinfoil containing the pie weights. Place the uncovered tart back in the oven, weight free, and allow to cook for another 10 minutes, or until it is a deep golden brown in color. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with a little shredded parmesan (this will act as another barrier to the tomato liquid). Let cool to room temperature before filling.

5. Assembling the tart: Just before serving, arrange tomato slices inside the tart shell in your desired pattern. Drizzle with your best quality extra-virgin olive oil, and sprinkle with the slivered basil. Serve at room temperature.


Deborah said...

For some reason, my tomato plants decided to start growing again, even though they almost completely died back in our summer drought. This recipe looks awesome for a last-of-the-season tomato dish.

Patrick said...

Jade, that looks absolutley scrummy! I'm throwing a dinner party tomorrow night and that looks like a perfect appetizer. Thanks for the idea. Hope all is well with you.

Patrick said...

Jade, I couldn't find decent tomatoes in time for the party, but I made it to our farmers market Saturday so I'm making the tarts for Steven and myself this week. The vendor said this was the last week for tomatoes. I always hate that. That's the real sign that summer is over. I'll let you know how they turn out! Cheers, Patrick