All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012
This recipe was, again, born of ingredients I had on hand. I had that gigantic heirloom tomato from Figueroa Produce.
& refused to let it go to waste – plus about 40 pounds of cheese left over from a dinner party last weekend. I grated, dated & froze the blocks of cheddar & mozzarella – thinking I could thaw them down the road & use them on pizzas – but the odds & ends of the other cheese were still in my fridge, guilting me into action.
I am usually intimidated by pastry & generally opt to buy frozen, uncooked pie crusts but that seemed like a big cheat in a food porn blog, so, I made this crust myself. It was REALLY easy – so – do not be afraid.
I researched how one cooks a tart pastry & SO MANY sites said to line the raw dough (in the tart pan) with foil & fill it with beans (to keep the crust from rising up), bake it for 20 minutes, remove the beans & foil & bake another 15. This seemed crazy to me – as I thought the crust will have seen all the heat it can bare & end up over-cooked if I filled it with ingredients & then cooked it more. But SO MANY people outlined the prep this way – whether the filling was going to be raw or need an hour in the oven – so – I trusted. I shouldn’t have. You will see in my pictures that my crust is overdone.
My recipe below is going to try to help you avoid this fate. Also – I need to buy a tart pan with a removable bottom. I used a ceramic tart pan. It worked but the ability to remove the tart from the pan you cook it in is a nice touch and they are cheap! See HERE.
Anyway – despite the crusty, crust – this was still quite yummy…so feel free to tweak ingredients & give it a try. This is even better at room temperature the next day!!!!
Homemade Herbed Tart Crust Pastry
enough for TWO tarts
3 cups flour
12 TBS butter (salted, if possible) – CHILLED and cubed
1+ TBS fresh thyme (or diced fresh sage or fresh parsley or fresh oregano)
1/4 tsp salt
Mix the salt & flour together in your food processor (or in a bowl – as this dough could be made by hand – just not by me).
Pulse in the butter until it is incorporated into the dough. Pulse in the fresh herbs. Pulse in the two eggs. Add water 1 TBS at a time until small lumps of dough form.
Divide the dough into two balls & on a lightly floured surface, roll the two balls into disks large enough to line your tart pan. I rolled one out – and lined my tart pan. The other, I kept in a ball, rolled it in some flour & then wrapped it in plastic wrap to keep in the fridge for another tart another day.
When you line your tart pan – press the dough in gently, starting from the center & work to the edges. I wrapped my pastry over the rim & then cut away extra. You can cut it at the rim – for a cleaner look.
Refrigerate your pastry-lined tart pan for at least 30 minutes.
When ready to assemble & bake the tart – take the tart pan from the refrigerator & prick the bottom of your crust with a fork several times – then line it with foil. Put beans or some other oven safe thing (I used a pot lid – which I promptly burned myself touching 15 minutes later) into the crust & bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven.
Now your crust is half-cooked & ready for its contents. As you can see – mine above – was already too cooked to withstand the additional 45 minutes it got in the oven with the tomatoes & onions. 😦
I used the extra dough cut from the rim by braiding it, baking it for about 20 minutes & then dipping it is some warm roasted tomato sauce. Delicious!
Heirloom Tomato & Onion Tart with Arugula & Basil
2-3 medium heirloom tomatoes – different colors, if possible – sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 lb mixed grated cheese (I used gruyere, smoked gouda & cheddar)
1 cup arugula
1 small red onion – sliced thinly
1 small white onion – sliced thinly
(or two onions of your choice)
4 scallions – sliced
1 TBS fresh thyme
a handful of shredded basil
S&P to taste
Heat your oven to 375 degrees.
Spread a double layer of paper towels in your sink or on the counter. Spread the tomato slices on the towel. Sprinkle with salt. Press another layer of paper towels on top of this. Let rest while you complete the following steps.
Heat maybe a TBS olive oil in a pan & saute your onions & scallions until they begin to caramelize – 10 minutes or more.
With a pastry brush (or your fingers, spread a very thin layer of olive oil over the bottom of your crust & sprinkle with the fresh thyme. Sprinkle a little cheese on top of this & then layer the arugula on top of that.
Reserve another small portion of the cheese for topping & mix the remainder of the cheese with the sauteed onion/scallion mixture. Layer the onion mixture on top of the arugula. Arrange the drained & dry tomatoes on top of this, interchanging colors (if you have more than one color) in a circular fan pattern. Top with the reserved grated cheese.
Bake in your oven at 375 for 3–45 minutes or until the cheese is melted & beginning to brown. If your crust is getting too brown – try to protect it with some aluminum foil. Let the tart rest for 5-10 minutes. Spread the shredded basil on top, add fresh cracked pepper & enjoy!!! This is even better at room temperature the next day!!!!