food

Herbed Tomato and Three Cheese Tart

I'm a sucker for a flaky, buttery crust.  I especially love it when said crust is used to compose a rustic, free-form tart.  Sweeten the deal with some fillings full of flavor and texture and I'm definitely in.  This tart delivers on all levels, my friends.

It begins with this foolproof dough, made entirely in the food processor.  Milk, lemon juice, and egg ensure tender flakiness while butter and the addition of fresh chopped herbs give it incredible flavor.

Once it's been rolled out into a rustic circle, the dough is topped with a bed of deeply caramelized onions and a crumble of herb-and-garlic goat cheese and cream cheese.

Before the edges are pulled up and pleated haphazardly, a generous layer of ripe, red tomatoes sprinkled with fresh basil goes on top.

Halfway through the baking time, a topping of big parmesan shavings is applied liberally for sharpness and melty goodness.

This tart, a triumph of simple flavors and wonderful textural contrast, is a must-try.  While it may seem time-consuming at first glance, the recipe can easily be broken down into manageable components.  Make the dough and caramelize the onions early in the day -- or even a couple of days in advance -- and dinner will come together in just over a half an hour.  That's the beauty of a free-form crust like this one: it bakes faster than one in a baking dish and has the bonus of all-over golden color.  It's divine with a green salad and a glass of bubbly and it's just as yummy eaten cold from the refrigerator a few hours later.

I'd love for you to find out just how simple and tasty this recipe is.  If you try it, post your photo to Instagram and tag it #blairfromscratch -- I would be tickled to see it!

Herbed Tomato and Three Cheese Tart

serves 6, generously

Crust

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 teaspoons fresh chopped herbs (suggestion: rosemary and thyme)
  • a few grinds black pepper
  • 6 oz. (1 1/2 sticks) butter, very cold
  • 1/3 cup milk (whole is best)
  • 2 eggs, divided
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Filling

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, thinly slices
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • coarse salt and black pepper
  • 2 oz. garlic-and-herb goat cheese
  • 2 oz. plain cream cheese
  • 2 large tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 2 oz. parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley

Combine the flour, salt, herbs, and black pepper in a food processor fitted with the steel blade.  Cut the cold butter into small cubes and add to the flour mixture.  Pulse about twenty times or until the mixture becomes a coarse meal.  In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the milk, 1 egg, and lemon juice.  With the processor running, pour the liquid through the opening on top of the food processor and process just until the dough comes together.  Dump the dough onto a square of plastic wrap and form into a rough disk.  Wrap tightly and refrigerate for thirty minutes or up to 3 days.  It can also be frozen up to a month.

Meanwhile, caramelize your onions.  Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the sliced onions and toss.  When they begin to turn golden, turn the heat down to medium-low and add the garlic and salt and pepper to taste.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and brown.  Remove to a plate and allow to come to room temperature.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the chilled dough out into a circle 14 inches in diameter.  Transfer to a parchment-lined half sheet pan (the circle will hang over the short sides slightly.)  Refrigerate while you prepare the remaining toppings.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Spread the onions in an even layer on the round of dough, leaving a 2 inch border all the way around.  Crumble the goat and cream cheeses on top.  Lay the tomato slices in overlapping circles on top of the cheeses and sprinkle them with salt, pepper, and the basil.  Use your fingers to fold the border of the dough up over the rim of the toppings, pleating as you go.  Brush with the remaining beaten egg.  

Bake the tart for 15 minutes.  Using a vegetable peeler, shave big shards of the parmesan on top of the tomatoes.  Bake the tart 15 minutes more.  Sprinkle with the parsley and serve hot or at room temperature.