Summary: As summer hits its stride, and gloriously fresh produce becomes a luxurious stalwart of everyday noshing, I eat as many tomatoes as I possibly can. A daily caprese? Sure! Plain, like an apple, juices running down my chin? Happily! White bread, mayo, tom slices and salt? You bet. And the list goes on and on and on. But sometimes, it's fun to diversify as well as let tomatoes play a supporting role rather than star.
A good tart always makes me smile, in part because making one is an excuse to construct and delight in Molly Wizenberg's perfect crust. Have fun with the filling, but don't mess with the shell! Summer tarts need to be light though; today in DC for example, it is hot, gray, intermittently rainy and muggy to the max. The last thing I need is an overwrought fiesta that would leave me feeling even swampier.
This tart seems to defy gravity and is wonderful warm, at room temp, and even cold. It's the best sort of simple- to make and in flavor- and takes full advantage of and highlights what's in season now!
This recipe requires advance work so start early. If you have it, 9" tart pan with a removable bottom is optimal, but a pie plate would also work.
Yield: serves 6-10
- 4 tablespoons ice water (you might need up to 2 additional teaspoons)
- 3/4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 1½ cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoons sea salt
- 9 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled but not frozen, cut into chunks
- 2 large, ripe tomatoes, washed and sliced into 1/4" rounds
- olive oil
- 1/3 cup snipped chives
- 1/3 cup chopped parsley
- 1/3 cup chiffonade, or chopped, basil (I used purple but green is great too)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/4 cup whipping cream
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons milk (I used 2%)
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more for sprinkling on top
- 1/3 cup farmers cheese, crumbled (you could also use young chevre, well-drained ricotta, or even feta though the latter will change the taste of this slightly to a tangier one)
- pecorino for grating over the top, at least 2 tablespoons, more is good
- freshly ground pepper
Make the crust: In a small bowl, stir together the 4 tablespoons ice water and the vinegar, and set aside. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the flour and 3/4 teaspoons of sea salt. Add the butter and pulse until well-incorporated. With the motor running, pour in the water-vinegar mixture and let the dough come together. If it seems dry, add a teaspoon of additional ice water at a time (I usually add 1-2 teaspoons). Turn the dough into a bowl and shape into a ball. Place the ball on a sheet of plastic wrap, press gently into a disk, cover tightly with the wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours. (You can prepare to this point up to three days ahead).
Make the tomatoes: While the crust dough is chilling, prepare the tomatoes. Preheat the oven to 250° F and line a cookie pan with a sheet of foil. Drizzle the foil lightly with olive oil, and place the tomato rounds in a single layer on top. Sprinkle generously with salt. When the oven is at temp, slide in the pan of tomatoes, and cook for 55-60 minutes. When they're done, remove and reserve.
Preheat the oven to 375° F, and on a lightly floured surface, roll out your crust dough to a roughly 1/4" thick circle. Invert it over your tart pan, folding in the overhang but leaving at least 1/4" sticking up over the sides. It will shrink as it cooks, and you want it to still be high enough to accommodate all the filling.
Line the inside with foil and place pie weights or dried beans on top. Be sure to dock the sides as best you can so as to avoid collapse of the walls/sides. Bake the crust for 25 minutes. Remove the weights and foil and bake an additional 5 minutes.
Putting it together: Leaving your oven on, remove the tart shell from the oven, place it on a large baking sheet and let cool slightly while you prepare the filling. In a small bowl, toss together the chives, parsley and basil until well-combined. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, whipping cream, milk and salt, and set aside.
Line the bottom of your tart shell with the roasted tomato rounds (do this gently because they are fragile). Atop those, add the farmers cheese and herb mixture, trying to make the distribution across the tomatoes as uniform as possible. Carefully pour the egg mixture over the top of the tomatoes, herbs and cheese. Grate pecorino generously over the top, and then sprinkle with a bit more salt and some freshly ground pepper.
Slide the pan with the tart on it into the oven and bake 25-27 minutes, or until the top is golden and set. When done, carefully remove the tart pan from the baking sheet and slide onto a wire rack. Cool ten minutes and then carefully remove the tart pan ring from the base and tart. Cut into wedges and serve, cool to room temp and serve, or cool completely and then refrigerate until ready to serve.