Every summer when tomatoes are plentiful, I think about making a tomato tart. There is something very appealing about the idea of ripe, juicy tomatoes encased in a flaky, buttery crust. Add a salad and a glass of wine and you have a simple, elegant dinner. I've tried a few of these tarts over the years, and while they are almost always pleasing to the eye with their golden brown crust and concentric circles of ripe red tomatoes, there is always the issue of keeping the crust from becoming soggy. Tomatoes are, after all, 90% water.
Tips and Tricks for a Crisp, Flaky Crust
Imagine my delight when I came across a recipe for a Rustic Tomato Tart in the August/September issue of Cook's Country magazine that claimed to have solved the soggy crust dilemma! I had to give it a try for myself. Indeed, this was the best tomato tart I have made to date thanks to a few tricks designed to keep the crust crisp and flaky:
- Brush the surface of the crust with dijon mustard prior to adding then filling. This creates a moisture barrier between the tomatoes and the crust and imparts a little extra flavor to the finished product.
- Use a dry cheese. Some of the tomato tart recipes that I've made in the past have called for a soft cheese like mozzarella which has a comparably high moisture content. The original version of this recipe called for Gruyère which is drier in texture but still melts well. I used an aged Danish Havarti for my version.
- Put the tomatoes on top of the cheese layer. The cheese adds yet another layer between the wet tomato filling and the crust which again helps keep things crisp.
- Salt and drain your tomatoes prior to baking them. This helps draw moisture out of the fruit and ultimately leads to a drier filling and a crisper crust.
One of the other things I love about this recipe is its charming rustic appearance...no tart pan required! Simply leave a border around the edge of the tart and fold it up and over the filling, folding pleats into the dough as you go. So easy and no special equipment.
In the interest of bringing my own Nordic vibe to this recipe, I replaced some of the all-purpose flour from the original recipe with dark rye flour and loved the results....just a hint of that slightly sour, earthy flavor of rye really added to the tart's rustic nature. As I mentioned above, I also used an aged Danish Havarti for the cheese rather than the Gruyére that was originally called for.
If you are looking to put those late summer tomatoes to use in something really lovely and delicious, I highly recommend giving this stunning tart a try.
Rustic Tomato Tart with Rye Crust
For the Crust:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup dark rye flour
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter cut into ½ inch squares
- 6 tablespoons ice water
For the Filling:
- 1 ½ pounds garden tomatoes a mix of any variety is fine, cored and sliced into ¼ inch thick rounds
- 1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt divided
- 1 medium shallot sliced thin
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
- 1 garlic clove minced
- Freshly ground pepper
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 3 ounces aged Danish Havarti cheese or Gruyère if you can’t find it, about 1 cup shredded
- 2 tablespoon finely grated parmesan cheese
To Assemble and Serve:
- 1 large egg beaten
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
- Make the Crust: Combine flours and salt in the work bowl of a food processor and process to combine. Scatter butter cubes over the top of the flour mixture and pulse until mixture resembles coarse sand with a few pea-sized pieces of butter here and there, about 8-10 pulses. Transfer mixture to a bowl and sprinkle the ice water over the top. Mix with a fork and/or your fingers until no dry spots remain and the dough holds together when squeezed.
- Transfer dough to a piece of plastic wrap. Gather into a ball and press into a disk, about 5 inches in diameter. Chill for at least two hours or up to two days before rolling.
- Make the Filling: Using your hands, gently toss tomato slices in a large colander with 1 teaspoon salt. Set over a sink to drain for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Transfer chilled dough round to a piece of parchment paper. Dust the top of the dough round with flour to prevent sticking. Using a rolling pin, roll into a 12 inch circle. Trim the edges with a pizza wheel if desired. Transfer to an inverted baking sheet leaving parchment paper in place. Place in the refrigerator for 20-30 to firm up slightly.
- Meanwhile, shake colander to get rid of any accumulated water. Combine tomatoes, shallot, oil, thyme, garlic and few grinds of freshly ground pepper and ½ teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Remove dough round from the refrigerator and place the dough round and parchment inside the rimmed baking sheet. Spread mustard over the surface of the dough, leaving a 1 ½ to 2 inch border around the edges. Sprinkle Havarti cheese in an even layer over the mustard.
- Using your hands, arrange tomato mixture on the bottom of the tart in concentric circles, continuing to leave a 1 ½ to 2 inch border around the edge. Leave any accumulated juices behind in the bowl. Sprinkle with parmesan.
- Fold the border of the dough inward over the tomato mixture so that it covers the filling by about 1 inch, overlapping the dough every couple of inches. Gently press dough so that it adheres. Brush with beaten egg.
- Bake until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly, about 50 minutes. Transfer baking pan to a wire rack to cool. Sprinkle with basil. Cut into wedges and serve.