For those of you who are still deciding the menu for a Mother’s Day celebration, here’s a recipe for a foolproof tart that could anchor a brunch or lunch this Sunday, May 8th. I’ve been baking this savory tart for more than 10 years, and never tire of its robust flavors. With its flaky crust and delectable topping of sweet grape tomatoes and creamy blue cheese, this dish makes a tempting vegetarian entree for moms everywhere.
The exceptionally crispy pastry shell is prepared with cream cheese, then seasoned generously with cayenne pepper. The tart can be baked several hours ahead, left at room temperature, and then quickly reheated.
For sides, you could offer a salad of mixed greens, thinly sliced fennel, and toasted walnuts or almonds, all tossed in a lemon or white wine vinaigrette, plus a warm baguette. Choose your favorite homemade cookies for dessert and serve them with a bowl of fresh raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. Happy Mother’s Day to moms everywhere!
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Grape Tomato and Blue Cheese Tart
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 oz cream cheese, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
8 tbsp unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
4 oz creamy blue cheese (such as Bleu d’Auvergne or Saint Augur), finely crumbled
10.5 oz (2 cups) grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise (See market note.)
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 green onions, chopped to include 2 inches of the green stems
1. Arrange a rack at center position and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Have ready a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.
2. For the crust, place the flour, cream cheese, butter, salt, and cayenne pepper in a food processor; pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Remove and knead the mixture several minutes into a smooth mass, and then press it with your fingers in an even layer into the bottom (not up the sides) of the tart pan. Smooth the dough with the back of a spoon. Freeze the tart shell 15 minutes to firm, and then bake the crust until golden brown, about 30 minutes.
3. Remove the tart shell from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the crust. Arrange the tomatoes in a circular pattern and in a single layer over the cheese, cut sides up. You may not need to use all of the tomatoes. Whisk together the oil and vinegar in a medium bowl and drizzle over the tomatoes, and then sprinkle with salt. Place the tart shell on a baking sheet to catch any drippings and return to the oven. Bake until the cheese has melted and the tomatoes are hot, 10 to 12 minutes.
4. Cool the tart for 5 to 10 minutes and then remove the sides of the tart pan. (The tart can be made 3 hours ahead. Leave the tart at cool room temperature and reheat in a preheated 350 degree F oven until warmed through, 8 to 10 minutes.)
5. To serve, place the tart on a platter. Mix together the parsley and green onions, and sprinkle over the tart. Cut the tart into 6 wedges.
Market note: Grape tomatoes, which have a sweet flavor, work better than cherry tomatoes in this recipe, and can be used year round. However, in the summer feel free to try the tart with one of your favorite seasonal varieties. Sweet ones that are on the small side work best.
Adapted from Sunday Brunch by Betty Rosbottom (Chronicle Books 2012)
Photo of Tomato and Blue Cheese Tart by Susie Cushner