Friend friends, hello!
I’m seeing messages everywhere that summer is over but I’ll tell you what – these tomatoes are telling us otherwise.
Sure, our summer days are nearing a close but I’m set on enjoying as many tomatoes, peaches, and plums as the market will allow.
I’m just back from a summer on the road, teaching baking workshops from coast to coast. It feels like I’ve been every-which-where except home, and while there’s a bit of fatigue settling into my bones, the rest of me is buzzing with inspiration.
I spend this past weekend cooking with my friend Ashley in Seattle. Ashley is easily one of the most intuitive and heart-felt people I’ve ever shared a kitchen with. The ease with which she brings together beautiful food is such a wonder. We shared a kitchen this past Sunday, bringing together brunch for a dozen or so and Ashely whipped up her Blue Ribbon Tomato Tart from her book Let’s Stay In. It was a stunning display of late summer tomatoes atop a bed of whipped goat cheese inside a crisp parmesan tart shell.
To say it was flawless is an understatement.
I haven’t been home for 24 hours but I’ve set my oven to preheat and run to the market for tomatoes. This tart is that urgent.
Your weekend plans? This tart is it.
Our tomato tart comes in three parts:
• a crisp, press-in crust made of parmesan and butter.
• a whipped feta and herb filling.
• a mountain of fresh, ripe tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, olives, herbs, and red onion.
We’ll start with the crust. Equal parts flour and grated parmesan cheese which is nothing but very good news.
Add a pinch of salt and a few good cracks of black pepper and give the mixture a quick whisk to combine.
I think the best way to get cold butter into this tart crust is to grate a nearly frozen stick of butter on the large side of a box grater.
Fast hands keep the butter cold.
Fluff the cold butter into the flour and cheese. No need to bread the butter down any further. The grater did most of the work!
Add cold water a few tablespoons at a time.
Stir the dough into a shaggy dough, moistening as all the flour bits, pressing the dough together with hands in the bowl to ensure that the dough is cohesive.
Press the dough into the tart pan.
(I used one of those removable bottom tart pans.)
Press the dough up the sides of the pan first, then press across the bottom of the pan. Create as even as a crust as you can, but a press-in crust is meant to be rugged. It’s all good.
The crust is the only part of this fresh tart we’ll bake, so a good long bake is what we need.
To keep the crust from sinking into the pan we’ll weight it down while it bakes.
Ashley used a piece of parchment paper and then reached for the granulated sugar to weight down the pie crust. What!? No beans? No fussy pie weights? Ashley mentioned she learned this trick from Bravetart and it’s just lovely. I always have plenty of sugar on hand, it creates an even weight and the result is a toasted sugar for future use. It’s a win all around.
I used a lightly grease piece of foil (grease side down) because I had temporary amnesia about the location of my parchment paper.
While the crust bakes it’s time for the whipped feta filling!
In a food processor we’ll place feta (I really love a big block of sheep’s milk feta sold in brine), softened cream cheese, heavy cream, olive oil, and lemon juice. Whip together, adding a splash more cream to smooth the mixture to spreadable.
Add lots of fresh basil, parsley and oregano and whirl to combine.
You’ll want to eat this by the spoonful most immediately.
Spoon into the cooled tart crust and smooth the top.
Slice 3 to 5 tomatoes, depending on their size and how high you’d like to pile them atop the tart.
Slice cucumbers and olives, too. It’s all going on top!
Arrange tomatoes and cucumbers across the whipped feta. Alternate this with that until the feta is covered, the veggies pile high and things seem deeply irresistible.
Just before serving sprinkle with a bit of flake salt, cracked black pepper and za’atar if you’d like.
Ashley is right, there are few better ways to honor this season’s tomatoes. The crust resembles a cheese cracker. The whipped feta is salty fresh. The tomatoes and cucumber are generously summer-perfect. There’s no time like right now, wouldn’t you say?Print
For the Crust:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
- 1 scant teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
- 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, grated on a box grater
- 4–5 tablespoons cold water
For the Filling:
- 8 ounces feta cheese (or goat cheese, see note below)
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/3 – 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 8–10 fresh basil leaves
- 3 sprigs (a small handful) fresh parsley leaves, plus more for topping
- 3 springs (a smaller handful) fresh oregano leaves, plus more for topping
For the Topping:
- 4 heirloom tomatoes, sliced into medium-thick slices
- a handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- half a cucumber, thinly sliced
- thinly sliced red onion
- kalamata olives, sliced in half
- flaky sea salt
- za’atar and fresh cracked black pepper (optional)
- Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat your oven to 400°F.
- Add the flour, salt, pepper, and Parmesan to a medium bowl. Stir to combine.
- Grate cold butter on the large side of a box grater into the flour mixture. Toss together to combine.
- Add a few tablespoons of water and mix together. Add a few more tablespoons until a just moist shaggy dough emerges in the bowl. Work the dough into a loose and rough ball in the bowl just to ensure it’s well hydrated.
- Add the dough into a 9 or 10-inch round tart pan (preferably with a removable bottom) then press it in firmly up the sides and across the bottom of the pan. Lay a piece of parchment or lightly greased foil over the dough then add enough granulated sugar to fill the tart pan. Gently press the sugar into all the edges then bake for 10 – 15 minutes or just until the edges start to shift in color. Carefully remove the parchment with the sugar (save the now deliciously toasted sugar!) then return the tart shell to the oven to bake until golden throughout, another 10 – 15 minutes.
- Allow the tart shell to cool completely.
- Prepare the whipped feta filling while the tart cools. Add the feta, cream cheese, lemon juice, olive oil, and 1/3 cup heavy cream to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Blend on high speed until the feta begins to smooth. Add a dash more cream as necessary. Add the basil leaves, parsley, and oregano and process until the herbs are tiny bits.
- Spoon the feta filling to the cooled tart shell.
- Layer sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, olives and herbs over the cheese filling. Just before serving top the tart with flake salt and za’atar if you’d like.
- Tart will last, well wrapped in the refrigerator for about two days.
* The use of Feta makes this dish super salty to some. I happen to be a salt-fiend so I love it. If your sensitive to salt I suggst subbing goat cheese for feta. Whipped goat cheese is absolutely delicious in this recipe!