Heirloom Tomato Tarts (and a Fabulous Brunch!)
Yes, this is an Instagram photo. (Taken right before the tarts were going in the oven!) These days, it feels like I've been so busy cooking – for magazines and events, rather than my neglected blog – that most of my photos are quickly snapped with my iPhone. Usually I have the best of intentions to go back and recreate the dish, with careful shots of the ingredients, the process, and the beautifully styled end result, but frankly, sometimes I just don't have the time!! So please forgive me, dear readers, for posting non-Signe quality shots every once in awhile.
This was one dish I made recently that I couldn't wait to share. Given that it's August (a.k.a. Tomato Season!!), I decided to make a multi-colored heirloom tomato tart, layered with fresh mozzarella and basil. I used my favorite whole wheat crust recipe – you've seen it in my Chicken Pot Pies and Spinach Bacon Quiche – and bought some cool rectangular tart pans with removable bottoms because I loved the shape. This tart is fantastic not only because it's beautiful (and delicious, if I do say so myself!), but because it can be made several hours in advance and served at room temperature. I love it with a salad for a light lunch, or as part of a brunch buffet.
In this case, I made these tomato tarts for a fun brunch party a few weeks ago at designer Erin Fetherston's dreamy Tribeca apartment. The brunch was covered by Refinery 29, which you can read all about here.
For the brunch, she wanted a buffet of fresh, seasonal foods, with plenty of healthy options. I made some yummy maple pecan granola (recipe coming soon!) and orange rhubarb compote, to go with Greek yogurt and berries. I did a smoked salmon platter, with caper berries, cucumbers, red onions, and lemon dill creme fraiche, with homemade gluten-free seeded bread. I made mini fritattas with spinach, goat cheese, and slow-roasted tomatoes, and an arugula salad with white peaches, toasted pistachios, and ricotta salata. And Erin had me toss together one of her favorite summer salads as well - watermelon with kalamata olives, mint, and ricotta salata. All of this was served with plenty of bubbly (she's a girl after my own heart!) and some other nibbles Erin put together. (For more pictures, check out Refinery 29's story!)
It was such a privilege having the chance to work with both Erin and Refinery 29, and I hope I'll have the chance to do so again in the near future!
HEIRLOOM TOMATO TART WITH MOZZARELLA & BASIL
Makes 1 rectangular tart (Serves 6-8)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
8 tablespoons ice cold water
3 or 4 medium heirloom tomatoes (in assorted colors)
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk (2 % or whole)
1/4 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup thinly sliced mozzarella
1 tablespoon chopped basil
Grated Parmesan (optional)
For the pastry, combine the flours and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is full of pea-size lumps. With the motor running, add the water slowly, just until the dough begins to come together. Dump it onto a floured surface, knead a few times, and shape into a round disc. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator at least one hour.
Unwrap the disk, place on a floured surface, and let sit for about 10 minutes. Give it a few good whacks with the rolling pin (to loosen it up and spread it out a bit) and roll the dough into about a 12-inch rectangle. Place the tart pan above the dough and make sure the crust extends a couple of inches beyond the dish. (You'll definitely end up with extra dough.)
Carefully roll the crust onto the rolling pin to transfer it into the dish. Unroll the dough into the dish and gently shape it to fit. Using scissors, trim the edges so they come just above the edge of the dish. Gently shape the dough into the tart pan. Chill the crust for 20 or 30 minutes while you prepare the filling.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cut the tomatoes into thin slices and place on a paper towel-lined plate. Cover with a paper towel and press lightly to absorb extra liquid. Let sit for 10 minutes. (You'll have extra tomato slices, so use them for a Caprese salad!)
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and cream. Season with salt and pepper.
Arrange the mozzarella on the bottom of the tart crust and sprinkle the basil on top. Pour the egg mixture over the mozzarella and basil and carefully layer the tomatoes on top. Season with a bit of salt and pepper, and if you like, some grated Parmesan.
Place on a baking sheet and bake in the center of the oven for 35-40 minutes or until the filling is golden brown and slightly puffy. Let cool on a cooling rack for at least 20 minutes before serving.