I read the other day that cooking tomatoes actually increases their nutritional value, particularly lycopene. This was my green light for making a tomato tart. As much as I love a ripe tomato right off the vine, roasted tomatoes are a close second. I must say, very close.
As with any vegetable, tomatoes’ innate flavor and sweetness are emphasized with high-heat roasting. They come out of the oven ready to be tossed with pasta, spread on to a piece of crusty bread, or popped into the freezer for later. This year I’ll be roasting and freezing tomatoes, along with sauce-making and drying.
Roasted Tomatoes Recipe
Directions: Sprinkle chopped tomatoes that have been spread out on a parchment-lined baking pan with ample olive oil, sliced garlic, salt & pepper/ Bake at 425º for about 30-40 minutes. Watch them/ The juice will begin to sizzle and reduce, and the tomatoes will char a little. Perfect.
Remove from the oven and after they’ve cooled a bit, carefully lift parchment paper off the baking dish and slide tomatoes into a bowl, juices and all. Then decide what to do with them – pasta, pizza, bread, soup or the freezer. I put two quarts in the freezer and reserved some for immediate consumption: roasted tomatoes on bruschetta with a dollop of ricotta cheese and chopped fresh basil. Scrumptious. You can also blend them at this point to whatever degree of smoothness you choose. Instant tomato sauce.
A perfect little meal along with some greens, a sip of wine, and oh, maybe a smidge of ice cream with fresh peaches. Summertime.
The tomatoes on steroids are another story. Bodacious and ruby red, several tipped the scale at two-pounds, no kidding. Serious heat is not exactly characteristic of a PNW summer, but this year it happened and I guess tomatoes were in heaven while the rest of us were trying to find some shade for our precious webbed feet. And the thing is, they’re juicy and sweet in spite of their girth. I thought they’d be exceptional sliced and layered over caramelized onions in a tart.
Tomato Tart Recipe
Mostly local/seasonal ingredients: Tomatoes, Caramelized onions, Organic Valley whole-milk ricotta, Fresh basil, Thyme & Oregano, Olive oil, Salt & Pepper
Pastry Dough:Any pastry recipe you like, or Alice Waters’ version: 2 C flour, 12 T cold, unsalted or salted butter, chopped into small cubes, 1 t salt (if using unsalted butter), and 1/2 C ice water/ Mix flour and butter together by hand or in a food processor until well blended into pea-sized, or smaller, bits/ Gradually add the cold water, just enough for it all to come together into a ball/ For me, just short of a half cup of water is about right/ Handling it as little as possible, gently form a ball, pat it into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for an hour or so.
Calling this a tart is a slight misnomer since it isn’t exactly the traditional tart shape. I’m leaving the tart pan in the cupboard, and rolling this one out free form, kind of like a galette. I should never have been introduced to the galette, the pastry that flings itself on to the pan with such abandon and doesn’t require any finicky attention to make it look just so. It will be hard to return to the disciplined shape of a tart pan. I also like the ease with which a galette can be sliced and served, but of course, use an actual tart pan if you like.
The Tart: Roll the dough out into a round or rectangle and pierce the center several times with the tongs of a fork and place on
to the baking pan/Fill the middle with a layer of caramelized onions, a sprinkling of flour (1 – 2 T) to absorb some of the tomatoes’
juiciness during baking/Then a layer of freshly sliced tomatoes sprinkled with olive oil, thinly sliced garlic, salt & pepper/Roll
the edges up around the whole thing and brush the pastry with a mixture of 1 egg and 1 T water/Bake at 425º for 20 minutes, then reduce heat
to 350º and cook until crust is golden and tomatoes are beginning to brown, another 20 minutes or so.
Remove from the oven and drizzle with a little more olive oil, a spoonful of ricotta, and the fresh basil. Cut into small squares for appetizers, or big ones for a meal. This is good hot, or at room temp.
There’s certainly an argument for keeping the ingredients simple, just the garlicky, roasted tomatoes and onions. But there are delicious possibilities for embellishment: goat cheese would be good, Parmesan, or a Puttenesca-like tart with olives, capers and anchovies. Next time. Either way, tomatoes keep a body humming.