Summer is making sure it’s being heard loud and clear this week; it’s hot, hot, hot and humid as all get out. I do not embrace the heat. I run and hide from it in the blasting air conditioning as long as humanly possible. A walk to the mailbox makes me miserable. However, the blazing sun does mean wonderful things for all of those garden plants that thrive in the sunshine, including tomatoes! My mom’s garden is about to burst with a bounty, so I wanted to start stocking up on recipes that would make wonderful use of the fresh-from-the-garden produce. I think that an easy puff pastry tart with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, along with fresh basil fits the bill nicely.
In the interest of full disclosure, I have to tell you that I’m not a huge tomato fan. I’m not sure how it happened, seeing as how everyone in my family except for me would rush out to my grandfather’s garden, pick fresh tomatoes, slice and eat them right then and there with a sprinkle of salt. You may as well have been trying to feed me Brussels sprouts. I wanted no part of it. I’ve gotten better as I’ve gotten older, tolerating tomatoes on sandwiches, burgers and white pizzas. I’ve eased myself into tomatoes to the point where I absolutely loved this tart… which is basically all tomato. It’s really a wonderful way to let the fresh flavor of the tomato shine through. I honestly surprised myself by how much I enjoyed this!
The puff pastry crust is topped with Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses, then tomato slices are layered on and drizzled with garlic and olive oil. Once baked, the tart is sprinkled with fresh basil. This would be something perfect to serve for brunch, lunch or as an appetizer. My Chief Culinary Consultant and I shared this for lunch; you could easily make a larger version by combining both puff pastry sheets in the package and doubling everything else in the recipe.
I’m determined to show summer who’s boss by making the most out of a hot, humid situation. Bring on the fresh garden veggies!
Tomato and Mozzarella Tart
Yield: 4 to 6 (as an appetizer); 2 to 3 (as a light lunch)
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
An easy tomato tart using puff pastry; perfect as an appetizer or light lunch.
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 plum tomatoes (or 1 large heirloom tomato), cored and sliced ¼-inch thick
½ teaspoon salt
4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 1 cup shredded)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Place the puff pastry in the center of the baking sheet and brush all over with the egg. Form a crust by folding over the edges about a ½ inch, then brush the edges with egg. Use a paring knife to cut the folded edges and corners.
3. Sprinkle evenly with the Parmesan cheese, then poke the dough all over with a fork, making sure to go the whole way through the dough. Bake until golden brown and crisp, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
4. Meanwhile, place the tomato slices on a triple layer of paper towels. Sprinkle with the salt and let sit for 30 minutes.
5. When ready, sprinkle the shredded mozzarella evenly over the bottom of the crust. Press any excess moisture out of the tomatoes with paper towels, then layer the tomato slices evenly over the mozzarella. Whisk the olive oil and garlic together and drizzle evenly over the tomatoes. Bake until the crust is deep golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.
6. Let cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then sprinkle with basil. Slide the tart onto a cutting board, slice into pieces and serve.
(Recipe from Cook's Illustrated All-Time Favorite Recipes)