Savory Tarts: Heirloom Tomatoes in a Parmesan Crust

I have never been a superb dough maker. Considering I never defined myself as a perfectionist it has always been difficult to follow recipes that need special care. If you do not roll the dough the perfect amount it can lead to negative consequences. No one wants a tart that falls apart or a pastry that is not flaky. Considering it is such a science it does take extra care. I decided it was time to make a savory tart.

I have been quite jealous for a while of Heidi Swanson’s blog 101cookbooks.com, as well as her tart recipes. Her blog is a beautiful place where she cooks, photographs and expresses a deep-rooted joy for all things food. Swanson cooks vegetarian and vegan food that never seems to skimp on flavor. Her ability to create unique flavor and textural combinations is evident every time a new recipe is posted. She is definitely an inspiration for me, and her tarts are especially so. She makes beautiful ones with flavors such as turnip greens with a cornmeal crust and a lasagna tart packed in a piecrust.

The tart that struck me the most to start with was her heirloom tomato tart in a Parmesan crust. I used a combination of beefsteak tomato and Kumato brown tomato slices. The recipe calls for heirloom tomatoes that are not always accessible so I chose to do a combination of special dark colored tomatoes with the typical red ones we are all used to. The tart shell is easy to make and full of Parmesan flavor. If you are a fan of fresh tomatoes and summer flavors please make this. It goes great with shrimp and chicken dishes, but try it with anything. Again, thank Swanson for this wonderful recipe that follows. I will need to make more of her recipes in the future, and eventually give my own spin to her recipes.

Heirloom Tomato Tart in a Parmesan Crust 

[From 101Cookbooks.com]

  •     6 medium-sized heirloom tomatoes
  •     1 teaspoon sea salt
  •     1/2 cup all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (or just 1 cup all-   purpose)
  •     1/2 cup organic butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  •     2 cups loosely packed grated Parmesan cheese
  •     2 tablespoons ice cold water
  •     2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  •     1/4 cup slivered basil
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. To avoid a soggy crust later on, you need to rid the tomatoes of some of their liquid. Clear a space on your counter and put down a double layer of absorbent paper towels. Place the tomatoes in a single layer on the paper towels and sprinkle them with about 1 teaspoon fine-grained sea salt. Top the tomatoes with another layer of paper towels and press gently. Let the tomatoes sit here until you are ready to use them.
  3. Place both flours, butter, and Parmesan in a food processor and pulse quickly about 25 times. You are looking for a sandy textured blend, punctuated with pea-sized pieces of butter. With a few more pulses, blend in the 2T of ice water. The dough should stick together when your pinch it between two fingers. Pour the dough into a nine or ten inch tart. Working quickly, press the dough uniformly into the pan by pressing across the bottom and working towards the sides and up to form a rim. Place in the refrigerator and chill for 15 minutes.
  4. Pull the tarts out of the refrigerator and poke each a few times with the tongs of a fork. Cover the tart with a square of aluminum foil and fill generously with pie weights. Place on a baking sheet and slide the tart onto the middle rack in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, pull the shell out of the oven and very gently peel back and remove the tinfoil containing the pie weights. Place the uncovered tart back in the oven, weight free, and allow to cook for another 10 minutes, or until it is a deep golden brown in color. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with a little shredded Parmesan (this will act as another barrier to the tomato liquid). Let cool to room temperature before filling.
  5. Just before serving, arrange tomato slices in a concentric pattern inside the tart shell. Drizzle with your best quality extra-virgin olive oil, and sprinkle with the slivered basil. Serve at room temperature.
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