Thursday, September 15, 2011

Summer Tomato Tart

It's finally fresh summer tomato time here on the homestead. It seems like it has taken forever for the green tomatoes to ripen during our cool summer. Doesn't everyone always wait impatiently for the first juicy tomato of summer?  The wait this year seemed so much longer and it probably was considering the harvest of all the valley fruit is at least two weeks later than normal. I only plant the earliest of tomato varieties like Early Girl and Oregon Spring yet still have to wait and wait for their maturity.

I am going to make a confession here on Pie in the Sky.

I never ate fresh ripe summer tomatoes until I was well into adulthood. I mean... I was at least in my late thirties before I really ate fresh tomatoes and I haven't eaten and appreciated them regularly until much more recently.

Isn't that sad? Pathetically sad!

This terrible omission in my culinary appreciation came out of my childhood and I have to blame my sweet dad. My dad, for some unknown reason, did not like fresh tomatoes. He was not shy about saying so when he eschewed them at the dinner table. I think he must have had some kind of traumatic childhood experience with...picking tomato worms in the garden or....nasty rotten tomatoes in the military...or something. Because he wouldn't ever eat a fresh tomato. This was good enough for me. If my dad didn't like them (and my mother did but that didn't matter) then there must be a good reason for me not to like them either. So, I never ate them. Ever.

As a parent I have remembered this effect I can inadvertently have on my offspring. Though I didn't eat fresh tomatoes I never talked about it and so my own children didn't repeat the behavior. They all eat fresh tomatoes and some of the kids adore them. I believe that parents should keep any food aversions to themselves and let their kids discover their own palette preferences, which by the way are very fickle in childhood and will change from day to day and week to week if those finicky aversions are pretty much ignored. That's been my experience anyway and all seven of my offspring have grown to be very adventurous eaters.

But back to fresh summer tomatoes.

Now, I love them. I look forward to the day those orbs hanging on the plants in my garden finally turn a deep red and are ready to be made into something special. Roasted tomato pasta sauce. Salsa fresca. Tomato sandwiches! (On toasted garlic sourdough bread with a wee bit of good cheese, olive oil, salt and pepper.) I could eat tomato sandwiches two meals a day every day til the end of summer and not be ready to give in to winter.

Another special treat reserved for the time when the tomatoes are coming fresh off the vine is tomato tart.

When I was still waiting for my own tomatoes to ripen I brought a few beauties home from the farmer's market. Some gorgeous garlic and hand made artisan cheese fell into my market basket too.


A tomato tart must have roasted garlic. Roasted garlic is simple if you plan ahead, which I almost never do.  Since I am a rebel in the kitchen I don't follow the conventional wisdom of taking a head of garlic and chopping off the top portion before roasting. Instead I break off the number of cloves I want, or use the whole head in tact, and place them in a baking dish (here I used a ramekin for three cloves) so that I don't waste the tiniest bit of garlic. Drizzle olive oil over, cover in foil and bake in an oven at pretty much any temperature until the scent of garlic permeates the house and drool starts to ooze from my mouth and the garlic is soft when given a gentle squeeze.


This delightful and fragrant garlic paste can be squeezed out on some toasted bread or a cracker but since I'm making a tomato tart, this soft garlic will get smeared over a buttery pie dough that I have rolled out on parchment paper.



All three roasted garlic cloves were smeared on the pie dough. Then I sprinkled some grated cheese- pecorino romano is great or a good parmesan works- over the garlic.

Then the fresh tomatoes, sliced about 1/4 inch thick, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper...



Finally, some more shavings of cheese...
Bake in a hot oven (425 degrees) for 20 minutes until the tart is just browned.


I won't take credit for this amazing tomato treat. It comes from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook. For the best tart it can only be made with flavorful summer tomatoes.  Try it and enjoy the end of the summer season.

2 comments:

  1. I'm just so happy to see you come clean about your tomato-eschewing folly. And that you have seen the error of your ways and turned to the path of light.

    Oh, and I'm making this for supper tonight. Yuuuuummmmmm! This is what summer is all about.

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  2. Stubborn foolishness. If someone asked me why I didn't like tomatoes (I remember Dad asking once in the early days) I couldn't say "the flavor" or "the texture" or "the acidity" or whatever, because I hadn't really eaten any. "I just don't like them." Brilliant!

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