I first created this recipe when my husband came home from the school where he teaches with six pints of cherry tomatoes.
At his school there is a farm-to-table program that aims to incorporate fresh, organic, and locally grown produce into the lunches served to kids.
It’s a wonderful program that supports local farmers and better nutrition.
Unfortunately that week the kids were apparently not diggin’ the cherry tomatoes, so the leftovers were made available to staff. He came home with tons of tomatoes and said, “I figured you could do something with them.”
So, do something with them I did.
Reaching for the beloved to me taste combination of tomato, basil, and garlic I put together this Cherry Tomato & Basil tart.
The tart includes a layer of sautéed garlic, chopped, fresh basil, and fresh Parmesan cheese. These all lay below the sliced cherry tomatoes. If you have different varieties of cherry tomatoes available, the combination of colors in the tart is stunning.
It may seem daunting, the idea of slicing all those cherry tomatoes, but actually I found it quite relaxing!
Have a seat, put on some music, have a refreshing beverage in reach. (Not wine, not yet. After all, we’re using sharp knives here.)
The tomato slicing becomes a zen affair. In addition to bringing this peaceful state of mind, the tiny, sliced tomatoes once artfully arranged make a pretty top on this tart.
Take advantage of the season’s abundant cherry tomatoes, and give this savory tart a try.
Cherry Tomato & Basil Tart
- 1/2 of the recipe for Buttery Pastry Dough Recipe (or store-bought pie crust for 1 pie)
- 2 pints cherry tomatoes, washed and stems removed
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, rinsed and allowed to air-dry
- 1 1/2 cups fresh Parmesan cheese, shredded
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Have ready a 10.25-inch nonstick tart pan with removable bottom.
- Roll the pastry dough out on a lightly floured surface into a circle about 13" in diameter. Carefully place the dough into the tart pan, and press it into the bottom and up along the sides. Have the dough extend over the edge of the pan; trim away excess dough to leave enough to tuck the edge under by about 1/4-inch. Press plastic wrap to the surface of the dough and put the pan into the fridge.
- Prepare the tomatoes: Line a large baking sheet with paper towels. Use a sharp knife and a cutting board to slice the tomatoes, getting 2 to 4 slices from each tomato (depending on the size and squishiness of them.) Lay the slices on a lined baking sheet to allow the excess moisture to drain away. Use another paper towel to gently blot moisture from the tops of the slices. Hold the tray aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a small pan over medium heat, and add the minced garlic. Sauté the garlic for 1-2 minutes: the garlic should be fragrant and softened, but remove the pan from the heat before it starts to brown. Set the pan aside.
- Prepare the basil: Stack 3 or 4 basil leaves on top of one another, then roll them up starting from the long side closest to you. Use a sharp knife to chiffonade the rolled leaves: slice across the rolled leaves to make thin strips. Once all the leaves are cut, run your knife through the pile of leaves a few times to cut the strips into smaller pieces.
- Preheat the oven to 425° F.
Assemble the tart:
- Remove the tart shell from the fridge and remove the plastic. Use a fork to pierce the crust in several places across the bottom to prevent bubbles from forming. Brush the sautéed garlic and oil over the bottom of the crust. Scatter the chopped basil evenly over the bottom, and then sprinkle the shredded Parmesan over the basil.
- Arrange tomato slices over the cheese, starting with a single layer of tomatoes to cover the cheese. (You can do concentric circles, a spiral, or rows.) Once the single layer is finished, lay more tomato slices down to create a second layer. Fill in with the remaining tomatoes until they are all used. Sprinkle the salt lightly over the top of the tomatoes. Lightly brush the remaining oil over the surface of the tomatoes.
- Place the pan in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. After these 15 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 350° F. Bake the tart for an additional 35 minutes, until the tomatoes look cooked with edges beginning to brown, and the crust has lightly browned. Check the tart periodically to be sure the crust isn't browning too fast. If it is, place pieces of foil carefully over the crust to protect it.
- Remove the tart from the oven and place it on a cooling rack. Allow it to cool for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving. Serve it warm or at room temperature.
- Leftover tart can be wrapped and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Makes 8 servings.
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