Using up the Tomatoes and Basil Still in our Markets

Trying to decide what to prepare for a monthly cooking segment I do for Mass Appeal (a midday tv show that airs on our local NBC station), I decided the dish should feature either tomatoes or apples. One of the show’s hosts voted for tomatoes since they are still bountiful in our markets in September. Culling my files, I spotted a recipe for a savory Tomato and Chèvre Tart published on this blog back in 2013. When I baked it several days ago, it was just as tempting as I remembered it from all those years ago.

The recipe has an interesting history. During a stay in Paris one summer, I made frequent trips to a cheese shop around the corner from our rented apartment. After choosing my cheeses, I’d pause at the small counter of takeout foods with my husband eyeing the savory tarts and hams displayed nearby. One day we bought slices of a beautiful tomato and goat cheese tart for lunch. One bite and we were smitten. Back home in New England I worked out my own version.

This tart with its golden puff pastry crust and its baked filling of alternating slices of tomatoes and chèvre set atop a layer of thickened pistou (Provencal pesto), has proven to be a crowd pleaser. Purchased puff pastry works fine for the crust, and the simple pistou of basil, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil takes just minutes to assemble. Seasonal tomatoes and a log of chèvre round out the ingredients. You can serve this tart warm or at room temperature, as a first course or as an anchor with a salad of mixed greens tossed in your favorite dressing for a light lunch or supper.





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Tomato and Chèvre Tart

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, about 9 inches square and 1/8 in thick (See note.)
1 cup roughly torn basil leaves plus extra sprigs for the garnish
2 teaspoons coarsely chopped garlic
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese preferably Parmigiano Reggiano,
plus 1 1/2 tablespoons for sprinkling on top of the tart
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound small tomatoes(about 2 inches in diameter) or plum tomatoes
8-ounce log of chèvre, well chilled
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1.Arrange a rack at the lowest position and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Have ready a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.

2. Roll the puff pastry sheet into a thin 11- to 11 1/2- inch square, then carefully drape over the rolling pin, and place in the tart pan. Press the dough against the bottom and up the sides.Trim the overhanging dough to 1/2 to 3/4 inches. Fold overhanging dough in and press to form double thick sides.(You can also press those trimmed pieces of dough against the sides of the tart shell to re-enforce them where they are thin.) Prick the bottom of the dough all over with the tines of a fork. Place the tart shell, uncovered, in the freezer for 30 minutes.        

3.Meanwhile prepare the pistou. Place basil and garlic in a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulsing until mixture is coarsely chopped. Add 3/4 cup of the Parmesan, and pulse until combined. With machine running, add the olive oil in a thin stream until the mixture is a smooth thick paste. 

4, Remove tart shell from the freezer and spread the pureed basil mixture in a thin layer over the bottom. Cut the tomatoes crosswise into 1/4 -inch thick slices. Carefully using a sharp knife or clean dental floss, cut the chèvre log into 1/4 -inch thick slices, and then halve each of the slices. Don’t worry if the cheese slices seem to break a little; you can easily reshape them into half moons.

5.Starting at the outside edge of the tart shell, slightly overlap and alternate tomato and chèvre slices, arranging them in concentric circles over the pistou.(Save any extra tomatoes and cheese for a salad.) Salt and pepper the filling, and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake until the crust is golden and the filling is hot and bubbling gently, 25-30 minutes.

6.Remove the tart from the oven and cool 15 to 20 minutes before slicing.(Don't worry if there is some oil collected on top of the tart when you remove it from the oven. It will be reabsorbed while it stands.) Remove the sides of the tart pan. Garnish the center of the tart with basil sprigs and cut tart into wedges. Serve warm or at room temperature. (The tart can rest at room temperature for up to 2 hours.) Serves 6 to 8.

Note: A 17.3 ounce package of Pepperidge Farm puff pastry contains two 9-inch square sheets. Defrost the puff pastry in the package overnight in the refrigerator or at room temperature for 30 minutes to one hour. The dough should still be very well chilled before you roll it out.

Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2021

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