WINE WITH…Tomato Tart
Summer offers so many gifts. Long hours of daylight. Dinner outdoors on the patio. Beach time. Tomatoes. And while it’s true that of all these blessings, tomatoes are uniquely available all year long, in winter they tend to be pale, tasteless imitations of summer’s gloriously juicy and flavorful gems. And so,
in summer, we make up for winter’s deprivations by eating a shocking number of tomatoes (in our house, for example, tomato and cheese sandwiches are a regular breakfast item).
One of our favorite mealtime indulgences this summer has been tomato tarts, which can be served as a first course at a dinner party or as a delicious stand-alone dish for an informal summer supper or lunch. Simple to prepare, and even better when served at room temperature, a tomato tart has an additional advantage in that it may be made at least a couple of hours ahead of time.
This is a recipe that lends itself to improvising. We generally make our own crust, but a commercial refrigerated piecrust does the job well too. Feel free to experiment with different cheeses for the creamy layer under the tomatoes. Do use firm heirloom tomatoes if possible; otherwise get the most flavorful tomatoes you can find.
One half of a 15 ounce unbaked pie crust (or make your own; optional recipe below)
4-5 tomatoes (use all red or a mix of red, green, yellow and/or orange)
4 ounces goat cheese, softened
1 cup shredded fontina cheese
1/3 cup good mayonnaise such as Dukes, Hellmans or Best Foods
About 1 tablespoon olive oil
6 or7 fresh basil leaves
Preheat the oven to 425°.
Roll out the piecrust dough and fit it into a 9-inch removable-bottom tarte pan. Prick the bottom of it with a fork, then cut a piece of parchment paper to fit over it. Cover it with dried beans, rice or pie weights to hold it down. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the weights and parchment and bake the crust another 8-10 minutes or until the bottom is lightly browned. Remove it from the oven and let it cool.
Meanwhile, cut the tomatoes horizontally in slices about ½ inch thick. Arrange a couple of layers of paper towels in a platter or sheet pan and place the tomato slices on them in a single layer. Let them stand about 15 minutes, then blot with a paper towel, sprinkle lightly with salt and turn them over. After 10 or 15 minutes pat dry and lightly salt them, removing large pockets of seeds.
Mix together the goat cheese, Fontina, Parmesan and mayonnaise. When the mixture is well combined, spread it in the bottom of the cooled tart crust. Add the tomatoes in a single layer, overlapping the slices. Add a little freshly ground pepper and bake the tart for about 30 minutes.
Let the tart rest for 10-15 minutes or up to several hours. When you are ready to serve it, drizzle a little olive oil over the tart. Tear the fresh basil into pieces and scatter them over the top.
For the Crust:
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces
2-4 tablespoons ice water, as needed
Pulse flour and salt together in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse the mixture until it forms pieces roughly the size of lima beans. Pulse in the water, one spoonful at a time, until the mixture just comes together.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and form it into a ball. Flatten it into a disc then cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least an hour, and up to a couple of days.
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The key to a successful match with this dish comes in choosing a wine with enough acidity to hold its own with the tomatoes. Color doesn’t much matter. Nor does weight. The wine, though, needs to exhibit a zesty edge—not tartness but vibrant zip and zing.