Fresh Tomato Tart

Damn. I knew I should have bought more tomatoes from that roadside produce stand in upstate New York. Having good tomatoes these days is something akin to having a house in the Hamptons, or the hottest new technology from Apple. Newer and better species keep cropping up, the heirlooms perhaps being the Amagansett abodes or Macbook Pros of the pack, and rarely will you ever break their superior, hand-painted looking skins when no one else is looking. Or at least, I won’t. I don’t know about you, but when it comes to something as basic as a vegetable I’ve eaten thousands of times and in thousands of forms, it’s hard to sell me at $4 a pound. (I could get pomegranates for that — exciting!) But that’s not to say that I don’t understand the value of extremely delectable varieties and specimen of the tomahto with a short “a.”

Once I returned from the fresh air and lake breeze of upstate New York, I opened my bags of farm produce and marveled at my souvenirs. Fragrant peaches, silky corn and a nice, big bag of 7 or 8 tomatoes. I sliced up the ripest one, and found that though it was bright red and the texture of a couch cushion, its flesh held together remarkably well. Gobbled up as a 1-ingredient salad, it barely left a red smear of juice behind on the plate, not the oozing piles of seeds like most tomatoes do. It pays to travel: these terrific tomatoes were scored for $3 for a bag of 8 (or 7? I can’t remember, I ate them too fast).

close to tart

After a couple days and tomato salads later, it was time to see what else they could do. So using a basic pie pastry recipe and my last few tomatoes (and it really hurt to use them up), I made this hand-molded mini tart. I read somewhere that adding salt to the tomatoes before baking will draw out too much moisture, so I supplemented the tomato’s generous flavor with a sprinkle of fresh thyme and Emmental Swiss cheese, just what I happened to have on hand. Not quite half an hour of baking later, it came out a savory side with looks to rival its fresh counterpart.

an apple a day

While I was making pastry dough, I threw together the same thing only with apples and a splat of cinnamon and brown sugar. Dessert!

Fresh Tomato Tart with Emmental and Thyme
(makes four 4″ tarts)

1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
2-3 Tb cold water
2 medium-large ripe tomatoes, sliced in thin wedges
1-2 oz. grated Emmental, Gruyere, or other Swiss cheese
1/4 tsp thyme

In a food processor, combine the flour and salt. Add cubes of butter and pulse several times until mixture is grainy and evenly coarse. While blending, pour in the cold water a teaspoon at a time until the mixture clumps together in one ball. Remove dough and turn onto a floured surface. Knead dough a few times, adding a little more flour if it’s too sticky to work with. Separate into 4 even balls and flatten with your hands into roughly 4″ discs with a flat center and slightly thicker width at the edges.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sprinkle half of the cheese on the raw dough. Arrange the tomatoes on top in a fan, or whichever manner you please. Sprinkle on the rest of the cheese and the thyme. Bake in the middle rack of the oven for 20-25 minutes, checking at 20 minutes to see if the edges of the tarts are just slightly golden. Remove and let cool a few minutes before eating.

Cost Calculator
(for 4 side servings)

2 medium-large tomatoes (from a farm stand at $3/7 in upstate NY): $0.84
1 stick butter: $1.25
1-2 oz Emmental cheese (at $5.99/lb): $0.60
1 cup flour: $0.20
1/4 tsp thyme: $0.15

Total: $3.04

Health Factor

Four brownie points: Sorry, but the crust is no different from any regular, rich pie pastry, it’s just a slightly smaller portion of it. Because you don’t need to wolf down an entire pie when you have tomatoes! Extra red and flavorful when baked, but also still full of cancer risk-reducing lycopene (if they’re red tomatoes), Vitamin C and A.

6 Responses

  1. Terry B

    Your tarts look fabulous! And a wonderful thing about tomatoes is that processing them–either by baking, as you have, or by turning them into cans of tomatoes, tomato sauce or tomato paste–doesn’t decrease the levels of lycopene.

  2. Deborah Dowd

    A whole tart dinner! What genius! You are right about tomatoes- trying to buy enough to last, but not too many so that they deteriorate before you eat them… that’s the trick!

  3. lindsey

    looks like a perfect use for the last of the tomatoes off my vine. i’m reaching my limit for marinara and tomato sandwiches.

    how much salt with the flour?

  4. cathy

    I’m so envious of your vine, Lindsey! And whoops — forgot to include the salt measurement in the recipe. It’s in there, now, just about 1/4 tsp. Have fun!

  5. midge

    what a delicious idea! i had some leftover pasta “sauce” that was really just some chopped tomatoes/leeks/fresh basil. i also only had goat cheese which i threw in lumps of. it actually turned out looking quit nice and tasting great.

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