I’m in love, and yes, my husband knows all about it. It’s quite scandalous indeed. I did have this long running affair with chocolate, but recently my affections have been directed elsewhere and my husband is to blame.
He just returned from a trip to visit his cousin Gerry in Petaluma, California. While he was there they went to a farm where they could pick their own produce, and he brought me home several bags filled with a variety of fruits and vegetables. In fact, one entire bag was just filled with the most gorgeous selection of heirloom tomatoes. So, needless to say we’ve had a real “tomato fest” at the house this week. Heirloom tomatoes are at their peak of perfection in these summer months and these were sweet and full of flavor.
For dinner my husband made mahi mahi with roasted tomatoes, I made this Heirloom Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart, and my son Erik made a tomato tartare. Erik is a chef at an upscale Los Angeles restaurant and my husband and I were dazzled by what he created with the tomatoes. I’m a proud mama!
The Heirloom TomatoTart is a great combination of flavors and textures. What could be bad about a crumbly pastry crust, creamy goat cheese and sweet heirloom tomatoes. If you don’t have access to heirloom tomatoes, certainly you can use any variety you have. But, if you’re looking for flavor, the heirloom is your best bet.
Heirloom Tomato Tart
Ingredients for the crust
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 10 tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter cut into 1 inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons ice water, plus more as needed
Ingredients for the filling
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 4-5 heirloom tomatoes, sliced and seeded (do not slice the tomatoes thin)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 8 ounces goat cheese (chèvre)
- 1/2 cup slivered fresh basil leaves ( plus more for garnish)
- For the pastry: in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, combine the flour and salt and mix on low for 15 seconds.
- Add the butter and continue beating until the mixture resembles pea-size crumbs. Add the water 1 tablespoon at a time, adding more water as needed, until the dough comes together.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and press it together to form a rectangular shape. Wrap with plastic wrap for about an hour.
- Place the rack in your oven in the lower third and preheat to 400 degrees F.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/8″ thickness to fit a 13 3/4 by 4 1/4 inch tart pan. ( I also have made mini tarts instead of 1 large tart). Press the dough into the pan and trim the dough leaving a 1/2″ overhang around the rim. Fold in the excess dough and press it into the sides so they are thicker than the bottom. Refrigerate at least 10 minutes.
- To make the filling: warm up the 1/3 cup of olive oil in a non-stick saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and fry, stirring occasionally, about 1 minute. Do not let it burn. Remove the garlic from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper and cook in the pan for about 2 minutes without flipping them over. Remove and transfer them to a platter.
- Remove the pan from the heat and empty the olive oil leaving behind about 1 tablespoon. Stir in the goat cheese, garlic basil and salt and pepper to taste until smooth.
- Brush the prepared pastry with olive oil and spread the goat cheese mixture evenly over the bottom of the pastry.
- Top with the tomatoes and drizzle with some olive oil.
- Bake until the crust is golden and crisp, about 50 minutes-1 hour. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. Garnish with fresh slivered basil.
Food is a fun part of my life, but having friends to share it with is what really matters. Everyone has commitments, family responsibilities and jobs, so it’s rare that we can get the girls together for a few days all at the same time. However, we managed to do that at my friend’s house up in Santa Barbara the other day.
For our first night in Santa Barbara we decided to stay in and make a home-cooked meal. Earlier in the afternoon we had walked up to the farmer’s market on State Street in downtown, and purchased fresh produce for that evenings dinner. We literally spent hours perusing the vendor’s booths, marvelling at the beautiful array of fresh vegetables, artisanal breads and home-baked fruit pies. Everyone had a job to do in preparing the meal which really made this effort a good time. My friend Joni, who had her own restaurant in Palm Springs and has run many other high-profile restaurants in the past, was serving us her Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta.
The fresh ciabatta was perfectly grilled, and the heirloom tomatoes which had probably been picked that morning were full of flavor. I loved the dish so much, I decided to share it with you.
Joni’s Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta
5-6 medium to large Heirloom tomatoes cut in large dice*
handful of fresh basil leaves chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
fine sea salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1-2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
fresh Ciabatta loaf
olive oil for grilling
In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, basil and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Dress with Balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
Toss gently. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
Allow the tomato mixture to sit at room temperature while grilling the ciabatta.
Cut the Ciabatta into 1″ thick slices. Lightly brush each side with olive oil and grill until well toasted on both sides.
*A serrated knife works best when slicing tomatoes.