tomato-basil-tart

Tomato, mozzarella and basil tart

AP PHOTO

There are very few things more delicious than tomatoes in season. Sure you can buy them year-round, but these imports tend to be mealy and flavorless, so why bother? Tomato Mozzarella and Basil Tart is a celebration of the tomato at the peak of its perfection, namely right now.

Also, if you don’t feel like making pie dough from scratch, go ahead and substitute store-bought pie dough. Tomato Mozzarella and Basil Tart

For the dough:

6 ounces (about 1 1/3 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon table salt

10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

2 to 4 tablespoons ice water

For the pie:

4 medium beefsteak tomatoes (about 1 3/4 pounds)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for sprinkling on the tomatoes

1 cup packed basil leaves plus extra small leaves for garnish

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole-milk ricotta cheese

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup coarsely grated mozzarella cheese (about 6 ounces)

1 ounce freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Extra-virgin olive oil for brushing on the tomatoes

Make the dough:

In a large bowl, stir together flour and salt, add butter and, working quickly with your fingertips or a pastry blender, mix dough until most of mixture resembles coarse meal, with the rest in small (roughly pea-sized) lumps. Drizzle 2 tablespoons ice water evenly over mixture and gently stir with a fork until incorporated. Gently squeeze a small handful: it should hold together without crumbling apart. If it doesn’t, add more ice water, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, stirring 2 or 3 times after each addition until it comes together.

Turn dough out onto a clean work surface and with the heel of your hand, smear dough in a forward motion on work surface to help distribute fat. Gather smeared dough together and repeat process. Form dough into a disk. Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour.

Remove dough from refrigerator and let it soften for 30 to 40 minutes at room temperature. On a lightly floured surface roll out dough into an 11-inch round. Ease round into a 9-inch tart tin with a removable fluted rim, trim excess dough and prick bottom and sides of dough all over with a fork. Cover and chill for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400 F. Line shell with aluminum foil and fill it with pie weights, dried beans or rice. Bake in lower third of the oven for 20 minutes. Carefully remove foil and pie weights, return tart shell to the oven and bake it until it is golden brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool.

Make filling:

Reduce oven temperature to 350 F. Slice tomatoes 1/3-inch thick, lightly salt slices on both sides and transfer to a large colander or cake rack to drain for 20 minutes.

In a food processor, combine basil, ricotta and eggs and process until blended. Add salt, mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano and pepper and process until combined.

Pat tomatoes dry with paper towels. Line bottom of pastry shell with the tomato end pieces, and spoon on cheese mixture, smoothing it out with a spatula. Arrange remaining tomato slices on top, in one layer, overlapping them slightly. Brush tomatoes with olive oil and bake until cheese mixture is set, about 1 hour. Transfer to a rack to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

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