Hello, everyone! As you read this, T-Hubs and I should be just settling in to our first ever vacation together. It’s about time! But don’t worry, because while I’m away there will be a few fabulous bloggers standing in for me. First up is my friend Shannon, from A Periodic Table (best blog name ever, am I right?). I don’t know when she and I first “met”, but thank goodness we did… every time I visit her site, it’s like she has read my mind and made something just for me. Or at least, that’s how it feels. And let me tell you, she makes some incredible things! If you haven’t checked out her blog, I highly recommend you go do that. Right after you make some of these Heirloom Tomato Tarts, that is!
I don’t normally guest-post, but when Willow needs something, I am more than happy to accommodate.
Why? Because I think she’s pretty wonderful, as a person and as a writer. I forget how long we’ve known each other through our respective blogs, but hers is one of my favorites; so much fantastic information over here, am I right? Her FAK Fridays have become something I look forward to all week.
When I think of Willow, I think of straightforward, delicious food and exceptional photos. She’s sneaky too, because just when you think she’s all smoothies, vegetable risottos, and cookies, she’ll throw a giant cheeseburger into the mix. Virtually everything seems within her reach in terms of food, and she defies being pigeonholed into a particular category of blogger – a trait i love about her.
Above all, she’s very seasonal. Not just seasonal in the way that she uses the produce of the season (and uses it well), but also that she makes things you’d want during certain times of the year. I wanted to echo that as best I could, so I crafted some little throw-together heirloom tomato tarts for you. We’ve all been there: the height of summer, when the mere thought of turning on an oven makes tears spring to our eyes and we run from the kitchen, perplexed about what to make for dinner. Usually by the time this feeling rolls around, we’re temporarily sick of salads but still want something fresh and light.
This is when I turn to perhaps the most precious butter and flour-based gift the heavens have bestowed upon this Earth: puff pastry.
FROZEN puff pastry, sillies, I’m not talking about making it yourselves. I haven’t even taught myself how to do that yet. But the frozen sort is wonderful, and you can do almost anything with it in under 30 minutes in the oven. No par-baking, no rolling it out (at least not much), just thaw and make things; sweet or savory, it matters not. And it looks tremendously fancy coming out of the oven.
We have loads of tomatoes in the midwest right now, and I am quite the sucker for the beautifully-hued heirloom varieties. Who could resist them? If you’re like me, you purchase way more than you need and then scramble to make sure you don’t miss a single bite. These little tarts are a great way to use up some of your tomato stash, and they couldn’t be easier. Simply slice up some of those gorgeous tomatoes, add a little goat cheese and whatever else you may want, and throw them in the oven. In about 25 minutes, you’ll have beautiful little odes to summer to serve yourself or whomever happens to be over.
I encourage you to think of this as a base recipe: it’s delicious just like this, but it’s also wonderful with other things added to the mix. throw some briny black olives or capers on top, substitute a little parmesan for the goat cheese (or sprinkle right alongside), maybe some thinly sliced red onion or whatever else suits your tastes. I like a little basil thrown over top alongside a drizzle of good balsamic vinegar, but feel free to add and subtract any herbs or flavors you have on hand. No matter what you do with them, they will positively scream summer, but in a really nice way. And summer produce? It’ll be gone before you know it, so go grab what you can and start eating.
Individual Heirloom Tomato Tarts
Makes 8 individual tarts
for the tarts:
1 box (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, thawed according to package directions
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds heirloom tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
4 ounces good-quality goat cheese, roughly crumbled
2-3 tablespoons olive oil, for drizzling over
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 egg + 1 teaspoon water, for egg wash
for post-oven topping:
4-5 large basil leaves, chiffonade
good-quality balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
Note: Fresh summer tomatoes are juicy; this we know. To help with making these tarts, I slice my tomatoes and place them on a plate lined with paper towels, which helps to catch any excess juice that could hinder the tart-making process.
Preheat oven to 400˚F. Line 2 un-lipped sheet pans with parchment paper. Whisk together the egg and water until combined.
Place one sheet of thawed puff pastry on a lightly floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, gently press the dough to flatten and seal any fold marks (no need to make the sheet any larger; this is only to even out the dough sheet.) With a thin-bladed knife, slice the dough into fourths and transfer them to one of the prepared sheet pans, evenly spacing them on the sheet. Using the same knife, gently score the dough 1/2-inch in from the sides to make a border; do not cut the dough all the way through.
Cut your tomato slices to fit into the squares; because tomatoes are round and your edges are straight, take a circle of tomato slice and cut one side straight. Vary them (don’t just cut them in half; see photos above) so you can make each one a little different. Use a few slices of the cherry/grape tomatoes to fill in where the curves of the larger tomatoes have left gaps, staying within the scored lines on the pastry. Divide half of the goat cheese (1/2 ounce per tart) over top. Using a pastry brush, brush each square with egg wash. Drizzle a little olive oil over the tomatoes, and season with a little sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry.
Bake in the lower third of your oven for 22-25 minutes, until the edges of the pastry are a deep golden brown and the goat cheese is tinged with a little bit of color at the tips. Serve immediately.