Heirloom Tomato Tart with Gluten Free Crust
Roasted tomatoes, creamy ricotta and goat cheese, and fresh herbs like basil and garlic make this tart (almost) too good to be true. Roasting the tomatoes separately is the trick to getting an intense tomato flavor without a soggy filling. Gluten Free. <jump to recipe>
I've got some pretty exciting news. Come next month, I'll be starting a new job! The change has me saying goodbye to an amazing team that I've worked with for the last handful of years (sad face). Although at the same time, I'm really looking forward to joining a stellar crew in my hometown of Vancouver. And given that some of my old colleagues are now some of my closest friends, I know they're never more than a phone call away. So overall, it's good feels all around!
On one of my final work trips back to Toronto, a colleague of mine commented on my calm demeanor. Given my job, I took it as a pretty nice compliment. Deadlines are tight, clients can be demanding, and the pressure can sometimes boil over (inevitably). Years ago, there's no way I would have expected "calm" to be a word someone used to describe me. But here we are. Frankly, I'd be kidding myself if I agreed that I am always calm. Often times, I still feel like a new swimmer treading water: shoulders and head are calmly above the surface, but underneath, two legs are furiously kicking away to keep everything afloat. The kicking isn't so much flailing or panic, but rather a constant stream of thoughts. A list of to-do's, things to remember, e-mails to return, phone calls to make. It goes on and on, and it rarely slows down. Over the years I've found ways to quiet these voices…things like hiking, yoga or just chilling the heck out. But the thing that works best for me – and I've known this all along – is cooking.
This recipe isn't the fastest thing out there, but it's one of the most cathartic recipes in my repertoire. Whenever my mind feels full of thoughts, I like to make dishes like this. Things where you can go through the motions without thinking too hard. Where you can nibble along the way. And ultimately, where the product is a comforting dish that you could dive into, face first.
While tomato tarts definitely aren't new or revolutionary, it's taken me a lot of trial-and-error to get one that I'm fully happy with. Almost a month to be exact. Not kidding. Although, I was totally up for the challenge because the combination of ripe tomatoes, soft cheese and fresh herbs makes me weak at the knees. That and I've noticed a lot of common let-downs when it comes to tomato tarts. Things like soggy crusts, watery fillings or a tomato flavor that's less than all there. And when tomatoes as beautiful as these are in season – why settle for anything less than exceptional?
I started with one of my most popular recipes on the blog: the sunflower seed crust from this quiche recipe. After a couple minor tweaks to account for the different fillings, I'd say it makes for the most perfect base. I ended up bumping up some of the ingredients to get a thicker crust, which helps it hold up nicely after being filled with cheese and topped with tomatoes. Par-baking the crust, prior to adding to filling, is a pretty critical step in my opinion. It helps the crust firm up and brown on the inside. In other words, it's key to avoiding a soggy crust.
But perhaps the biggest revelation when developing this recipe was the two-step baking process for the tomatoes. The first time I made this, I ended up putting raw tomatoes directly on the tart. To be fair, I dried them off a bit beforehand. But regardless, I quickly learned that because tomatoes are quite watery, they'll continue to release water during the baking process (especially when they're juicy and in-season). And that's a definite no-no if you want a thick, creamy filling. To prevent a watery filling, I first roast the tomatoes in the oven, prior to layering them atop the tart for a second bake. Sure, the second step adds a bit of time to the overall baking process, but in the end I'm confident you'll agree it's worth it. And, since you can bake the tomatoes at the same time as the crust, it really isn't so bad after all.
Once the crust is baked and the tomatoes are roasted, you'll fill the tart with a creamy blend of goat cheese and ricotta. Fresh basil gets mixed in for extra flavor. Then, layer the tomatoes on top of the tart and bake until the cheese is warm and the crust is golden brown. The smell is intoxicating, I'm warning you. For best results, allow the tart to cool slightly before attempting to cut into it. Serve alongside a light salad or sides of your choice. This tart makes for a yummy brunch or main dish…you choose!
HEIRLOOM TOMATO TART WITH GLUTEN FREE CRUST
MAKES 1 (9-INCH) TART, SERVES 8 (GLUTEN FREE)
2 lbs / 0.9 kg heirloom tomatoes*
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
3/4 cup goat cheese
2 tablespoons fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon salt
Black pepper, to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
Sunflower seed crust:
1 1/4 cups oats
3/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons chilled butter
~3 tablespoons ice cold water
Preheat oven to 350°F and set aside a 9" tart-pan (with a removable bottom). Slice the tomatoes about 1/4" thick. Place sliced tomatoes on a cutting board or plates lined with paper towels.
Now, prepare the crust. In a food processor, blend oats until the texture of coarse sand. Add sunflower seeds and salt and blend until the seeds are also a crumb-like texture. Add the chilled butter and pulse until well incorporated. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing until the mixture comes together in a ball. It should take ~3 tablespoons until this happens. Pour the dough out into the tart pan and use your fingers to press in the crust firmly. Use a fork to prick the crust 15 times to allow steam to escape when baking.
Meanwhile, use clean paper towels to dab away moisture from the tops of the tomatoes. Transfer tomato slices onto two baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Brush tops with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Place the tomatoes in the oven, and bake for 45 minutes until they begin to dry and wrinkle. Once the tomatoes go into the oven, add in the tart shell to bake at the same time. Bake the tart shell for 30 minutes and allow it to cool while the tomatoes finish roasting.
In a bowl, add ricotta and goat cheese. Use a spoon to beat the cheese until it is light and fluffy. Give the basil a rough chop and mix into the cheese mixture, alongside salt. Spoon filling into the tart shell and spread it evenly across the bottom and up the sides.
Use a spatula to lift the tomatoes off the baking sheet and arrange them on the tart. Brush the tops with remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and sprinkle with minced garlic. Return the tart to the oven and bake for another 20-25 minutes until the cheese is warm and the crust is golden brown. Allow the tart to cool slightly before removing it from the pan. Can be served slightly warm or room temperature. Garnish with extra salt and black pepper, if desired.
*Try to select similarly sized tomatoes as they'll cook at the same rate.
To prevent your crust from sticking, I highly recommend using a non-stick tart pan with a removable bottom. If you don't have one, then cut out a circle of parchment paper to place on the bottom of the pan. You may want to grease the pan as well to help it pop out easily.
Crust adapted from my "Quiche with Leeks, Thyme and Goat Cheese" recipe