Simple Tomato Tart
"Summer time ... and the livin' is easy." That Gershwin line from the musical Porgy and Bess is one of my favorites and seems to totally encapsulate the season. It points to warm, lazy days and makes me think of lots of garden-fresh vegetables, especially tomatoes. The French have a beautiful solution for dealing with loads of summer tomatoes and that is to make a tart. Of course it is! The French are excellent at tarts. So a Simple Tomato Tart it is.
What kind of crust does a Simple Tomato Tart have?
I can't say that I'm an expert on French tart doughs, but I'd say a Pate Brisee would work here. A Pate Brisee is simply a classic tart or pastry dough.
If you are in the "what-the-heck-is-she-talking-about" crowd, rest assured that your regular pie crust will work. And you can make it gluten-free, too. Heck, if you want to buy a ready-made frozen pie crust ... YOU DO YOU. It's your kitchen. Just make good food using the best ingredients that YOU are able to procure.
The pie crust I use
... is a sourdough crust. I've been making sourdough everything for quite a while now and absolutely LOVE it. It's flaky and buttery and just perfect. I mix it a day or so earlier than I'm going to use it to give it enough time to fully ferment.
To parbake or not to parbake?
To parbake a crust means that you partially bake it before you fill it and finish baking it. It is usually done for a pie or tart that has fresh fruit or custard fillings, but is also used for a pie that has a filling that doesn't need much baking ... like this Simple Tomato Tart.
Pie weights or old beans?
When you parbake a pie crust, you have to weigh it down to keep it from shrinking into the pie pan as it bakes. Because ... butter melts and any pie crust worth its mettle has butter in it. I used to have ceramic pie weights, but got rid of them at a time that I thought purging excess kitchen tools was a good idea. Well ...
Then I needed pie weights again and decided that I would just use dried beans or rice rather than buy more pie weights. Problem was that ... I still needed to store them and they didn't work as well as the pie weights I once I had.
SO ... I found beautiful pie weights that look like rainbow eggs! They are handmade in Utah by Jefferson Street Ceramics and they work so well.
I layer the pie crust with parchment paper, then put the weights in. This enables me to pick up the parchment paper with all of the weights and easily transfer them to another dish to cool before storing them. It also helps to keep them clean ... did I mention something about butter earlier? Yeah.
Parbake the crust about 20 minutes. The edges will be a bit brown, but the crust isn't fully cooked. It will finish cooking with the tomato filling.
What is the filling for a Simple Tomato Tart?
Well, tomatoes, of course! But also, Dijon mustard, cheese, and fresh thyme. It's a simple layered tart.
Spread the Dijon mustard on the bottom of the parbaked crust.
Layer tomato slices on top of the mustard, then top it with cheese. and fresh thyme leaves.
Repeat the layers till the pie is filled (usually two layers), finishing with cheese. Bake till the cheese is melted and the tomatoes are warm and tender.
How to serve Simple Tomato Tart
I recommend eating it soon after it comes out of the oven because the tomato juices love to penetrate that crust! Not a horrible scenario, but when that happens, it's a little harder to serve up nice slices.
I can eat a tomato tart straight up as it is, hot or cold! But it's also a wonderfully light lunch accompanied by a vinaigretted green salad and maybe some charcuterie. And why not serve it as a side dish with grilled or roasted meats? Perfect!
SIDE NOTE: There are some in our family that clamor to get the dark pie crust edges on their plates, but if the dark edges of the crust don't appeal to you, use some foil to cover the crust while baking.
Simple Tomato Tart
- 1 pie crust
- 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 1/2 pounds tomatoes sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 200 grams cheese grated
- 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- Heat oven to 375°F. Parbake the pie crust for about 20 minutes. Remove and let cool. Reset oven to 425°F to preheat for baking the tart.
- Spread the Dijon mustard on the cooled pie crust, then layer the sliced tomatoes on top. Add half of the cheese in a layer on top, then sprinkle half of the thyme leaves on it.
- Repeat the layering, then put the tart into the oven for about 15 minutes. Turn the broiler on and broil for about 2 minutes, until the cheese is turning golden. If the edges of your crust are getting too dark for your liking, use a crust shield or a bit of aluminum foil on them.
- Serve with a green salad and charcuterie, or as a side for grilled or roasted meats.
- Use your favorite pie crust recipe ... it could be sourdough, gluten-free, frozen from the supermarket ... you do you.
- Cheese: Gruyere is the traditional cheese the French might reach for to put in this tart, but I also love a good white cheddar cheese.