My heirloom tomato tart and I have sort of a love hate relationship going on. It is delicious, ridiculously simple to make and looks like a million bucks…see?
It is a truly dependable and spectacular tasting tart so why the animosity you may wonder. Well…I am getting very suspicious that the invitations I am receiving to various dinners and parties are actually an invitation for that little tart of a tart you see there.
When someone invites me over for dinner or any social occasion, usually, the first thing that pops out of my mouth is, “What can I bring?” It’s the way I was brought up, and if you must know the truth, I am a bit of a show-off when it comes to my food. I like to put on that humble appearance of, “You do like that?! Thank you! I just threw it together.” When in reality, I am thinking, “JACKPOT…that was the perfect dish to bring here…Nailed it!!!”
In the good old days, I used to have to toil over what I should bring. Will it be a decadent chocolate cake or a savory dish? But now-a-days, the inviter usually politely and slyly adds,” Would you mind bringing your fantastic tomato tart with you?” See how that clever person first compliments me? She knows me well I’m thinking. Flattery gets you EVERYWHERE around here! And just as she suspects, I answer, “Of course!”
At first, I was the tart’s biggest fan. I was introduced to it at a lovely cooking school in La Canada, CA called Chez Cherie. Cherie, herself, the lively instructor and energetic entrepreneur, demonstrated it and then proceeded to let us taste it fresh out of the oven. As it baked, we were taunted by the heavenly aroma permeating her store. It was love at first bite if you must know the truth. The slightly sharp Gruyere, coupled with the bright and summery sweet tomatoes, all tucked into a flaky crust was almost too much. I could have eaten the whole pie myself if I were there alone, but I wasn’t so we had to share.
Later that night, recipes in tow, I was thinking of how soon I could get myself to the nearest Trader Joe’s where Cherie had mentioned they had a lovely box of reasonably priced heirlooms awaiting me. My book club was coming over that weekend and I was dying to make this tart for them. I went to my local Joes the very next day and to my dismay….yes dismay…I almost teared up…there were no heirlooms to be found. I called around to three more Joes and finally found myself driving back to La Canada to their Trader Joe’s where indeed they were awaiting me.
Purple, orange, red and yellow…all beauties. They were prettier than any box of gems or bunch of flowers if you ask me. I raced home and made my tart. It was everything I had dreamed of all night.
Well it has been almost two years since I first came upon this tomato tart, and I have made it dozens of times by now. Its dance card has been filled up, then started anew and then filled up again. The tart, unlike me, always comes to the party dressed to the nines, in perfect form and gets compliments lavished upon it where ever it goes. Yes, the ugly green monster has taken over—I am jealous of my tart as it so appropriately is named. I guess I am OK for now since it can’t leave the house without me as its chauffeur. I hope you can reign in your tomato tart better than I have!
Heirloom Tomato Tart
Taken directly from Chez Cherie Cooking School in La Canada CA
Pie Dough for a 9″ tart , store bought or homemade works fine (click the link to my Lemon Meringue Pie which includes the plain and perfect pie crust recipe and how-to).
2 t. Dijon mustard
1 c. grated Gruyere cheese
2-3 heirloom tomatoes, sliced (I used 5 small ones)
sprinkle of salt and pepper
2 t. dried herbes de provence(or equal parts dried oregano and thyme and a pinch of rosemary, basil and sage mixed together in a small bowl and then sprinkled over the tomatoes)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll the pie dough out large enough to fit the tart pan (or pie pan if that’s what you have), and line the pan with the dough. Poke the dough all over the bottom and sides with the tines of a fork, gently please…don’t take out your aggressions on this lovely tart dough. Cover the dough with parchment paper or aluminum foil and place pie weights, raw beans or raw rice inside (to weight the pastry down). Place the tart pan in the oven and bake 12 minutes. Carefully remove the parchment and weights and return the tart pan to the oven for 8 minutes.
Remove from the oven and spread the mustard over the cooked crust. Scatter the grated cheese over the pastry, and arrange the tomato slices on top. Season with salt, pepper and the herbs de provence or herb mixture and return to the oven for 15 minutes, until tomatoes are “relaxed” and tart smells fabulous. Let cool for five minutes and then remove from the pan. Slice in wedges to serve. It’s totally irresistible warm.