Tarted up

Everyone has their favorite thing to eat this time of year, but for me, tomatoes are the quintessential summertime treat. I get a little thrill when the first red beauties hit the tables at the Greenmarket, and the sight of tomatoes ripening in our own backyard fills me with glee. There’s really nothing quite like plucking a tomato off the vine, still warm from the sun, slicing it and taking a bite.


We have been able to buy and grow some really amazing varieties of heirloom tomatoes the last few years, and I generally like to keep things really simple when serving them – a sprinkle of salt, some fresh herbs, and perhaps a drizzle of good olive oil or a crumble or grating of cheese is about as much gilding as I like to do so as not to mask their flavors.

I’ve been knocking around the idea of putting together a tomato tart in much the same style as Heidi Swanson’s gorgeous little number from a couple of years ago, and since the tomatoes are really starting to get good now, I wrote it into our meal plan for this week. While her parmesan crust sounds both easy and very tasty, my pastry skills are sorely lacking, and until someone gifts me with more counter space, or at the very least a food processor, I will go with the best quality purchased crust I can find (in this instance, two frozen prepared pie crusts from Whole Foods).

I brought the crusts and a 4 oz. round of Coach Farm goat cheese to room temperature, and rubbed the inside of a half sheet pan with a bit of olive oil. I preheated my oven to 400 degrees and spread a bit of flour onto my work surface. I turned out both crusts onto the floured surface, folded them up into a ball, and then rolled them out into a rectangle with a floured rolling pin. I sprinkled a little more flour into the sheet pan and laid the crust into the pan, pressing it lightly into the sides and corners of the pan, and pricked the bottom of the crust all over with a fork before placing it into the oven. I baked the crust for 16 minutes until it was golden, removed it from the oven and set it aside.

sliced and salted

I laid a double layer of paper towels on a platter and cored and sliced my tomatoes – a variety of about 5 medium-sized heirlooms. I sprinkled the tomatoes with salt and let them sit for a few minutes to give up some of their juices. Going back to the crust, once it had cooled a bit, I spread 3 oz. of the goat cheese on the bottom. I sliced about a dozen basil leaves into chiffonade, mixed them with 1-2 tablespoons of fresh thyme leaves, and sprinkled about half of the herb mixture over the goat cheese. I then layered the tomatoes on top, crumbled the remaining goat cheese and sprinkled the rest of the fresh herbs on top.

The tang of the goat cheese was present but not overpowering, just a nice complement to the sweet and juicy tomatoes which were, as they should be, the star of the show. With a lightly dressed green salad and a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc on the side, this super easy summertime meal was a real knockout.

17 thoughts on “Tarted up

  1. Aw jeez….those tomatoes are so big and plump! This makes me want to grow my own heirloom tomatoes in my backyard but I don’t think I’d keep the tomato plant alive long enough for them to grow to such size! Any tips for growing your own tomatoes?

  2. Jennifer Hess says:

    Hillary, I wish I had good advice, but I think we are just lucky – we’ve got really rich soil in the yard that the plants seem to love! The tomatoes pictured are ones we bought – ours are well on their way but not quite ready yet (with the exception of a few Green Zebras and Red Lightnings). I’d say it’ll be another week or so. :)

  3. Wow. I don’t really enjoy cooking (I wish I did – really), but this… this looks and sounds well worth it. Just… wow. My silly husband doesn’t like tomatoes, but my parents both adore them, and since they’re coming to visit soon… Yup, I’m going to have to force my mother into helping me make this. it’s the only way I’ve got any hope of not ruining it.

  4. Neera says:

    This looks delish! I love the tomato as well (as you know!) Can’t wait to get some off our vines… almost there!!! Out of curiosity (because I am clearly trying this one out) did you use pie as in cherry pie crust or pizza dough? Im thinking it would be the former which is pretty intruiging….

  5. Jennifer Hess says:

    Jerry – one of my favorite combinations, for sure! :D

    Neera – I was just admiring your tomatoes last night – they really are just about ready to take off the vine, aren’t they? As for the crust, I got a package of two frozen pie shells from Whole Foods (the kind for fruit pies and such). You could probably try something like puff pastry or phyllo dough, too.

  6. That does it — I’m heading to the Union Square Greenmarket this Friday! My mouth is watering. What a gorgeous, delicious treat!

  7. I have 5 plants in the back yard…so far only one tomato has come to fruition (pun intended). It was good, but not what I had hoped.

    Still waiting for the rest…should have some “patio tomato” fruit soon though…

  8. This sounds like it tastes just like summer, Jennifer! What a great idea. And salting the tomatoes ahead was a smart way to keep the crust from getting soggy.

  9. Jennifer Hess says:

    Amy – definitely do it! The tomatoes we have been getting from them are truly wonderful.

    Patricia – thank you! It was a great dish for a summer evening.

    Lenn – I remember we talked about the soil out there – are you growing your tomatoes in pots? We are super lucky to have such great soil in our garden, the tomato plants and our lima beans are almost as tall as I am!

    Terry – it worked out extremely well, and spreading the goat cheese on the crust helped to provide a bit of a moisture barrier as well. :)

    Claudia – me too! Seriously, until I have a better setup in the kitchen, I’m content to buy the best quality pre-made stuff I can find.

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