Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Roasted Tomato, Onion and Goat Cheese Tart

For the past month or so, the weather during the weekdays in NYC has been all kinds of suckola (heat, humidity, stinkiness, plagues, locusts and famine) but the weekends have been loveola.  Just in time to have some folks over and eat out on the patio.  And more recipes for you (and vegetarian, no less).

For this dinner, I made an oven-roasted tomato, goat cheese and onion tart, zucchini ribbons with tarragon, and corn salad with shallot vinaigrette.  For dessert I made a summer berry crisp.  To avoid total boredom on my and your parts, I'm going all Harry Potter and will break up the recipes into different posts. 

In this volume, we reveal the tomato tart, which I made based on an amalgamation of various recipes: (1) oven dried tomato, black olive and goat cheese tart; (2) tomato, goat cheese and onion tart; and (3) a little touch from Ina Garten's tomato and goat cheese tarts.

  • 1 sheet of pre-made puff pastry, thawed according to package directions (there are usually 2 sheets to a package)
  • 1 1/2 TBS chopped thyme 
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • About 4 small garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 6-8 roma (plum) tomatoes, sliced crosswise about 1/3" thick
  • 4 oz plain goat cheese (if you use Boursin or something I will hunt you down and hurt you)
  • 2 TBS grated parmesan
  • 2 TBS julienned basil leaves 
  • Plenty 'o' olive oil 
This recipe served 5 people (with second servings).

Making the tart consists of several key components: roasting the tomatoes, caramelizing the onion, making the puff pastry shell, and shoveling everything into the shell. This is an all-day recipe, mostly because the roasting of the tomatoes.

Some recipes just call for fresh tomatoes, but I really love slowly roasted tomatoes--it concentrates the sweetness to an incredible degree, and less water leaches out into your tart.  Plus the roasting shrinks the tomatoes, so you can pile more of them in the tart for greater tomato flavor. However, unlike the thinly veiled threat re: Boursin, no one will come after you and hurt you if you just use freshly and thinly sliced tomatoes--just squeeze out some of the seeds and innards, which may bring too much moisture to the table, depending on what recipe you use.

Also, once as the tomatoes are done, it probably makes sense to continue this recipe with the puff pastry and prep some of the other ingredients while the puff pastry shell is pre-baking.  However I kept forgetting to defrost the damn pastry throughout the day and did this in a weird order.  Doesn't matter too much either way, but just wanted to let you know.

First, the tomatoes.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Slice your tomatoes, sliver your garlic, and mince your thyme.  Lay out the tomatoes on two well-oiled baking sheets.  Scatter half of the garlic slivers on and around the tomato slices (reserve the other half for the onions), sprinkle on about half of the thyme leaves (reserve the other half for the onions), and lightly sprinkle with salt.

Drizzle the tomatoes with 1/4 cup of oil.

Roast for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, rotating baking sheets about every 30 minutes.  I'd show you the picture of the roasted tomatoes but it got towards crunch time and I forgot.

So, moving on to the caramelized onions. Slice your onions thinly (i.e. no more than 1/8 inch, although the point is really to try and keep them of uniform thickness, which I never do anyway because I don't possess those kinds of knife skills).

(that's the other half of the slivered garlic in there with the onions)

Heat about 2 TBS of olive oil over medium low heat.  Toss in onion and garlic. 

Cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until golden brown--this can take anywhere from 15-30 minutes, depending on the size of your onions, the heat, etc.  Towards the end of the cooking, throw in the rest of the minced thyme, plus a little salt and pepper.  You will get this sweet golden oniony-ness, although yours may not suffer from the same personality disorder that mine did due to uneven slicing.

Now let's get this puff pastry thing out of the way, shall we. Basically we create the puff pastry by rolling it out, putting it in our tart pan, and blind baking it (weird term for pre-baking a shell) before putting in the filling.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Roll out the defrosted pastry sheet on a well-floured surface, moving frequently to avoid sticking, to about a 12 or 13" square. 

Transfer to a 9" tart pan with removable bottom.  To do this, I fold the pastry into quarters, place it in the pan, trying to center the middle point of the sheet to the center of the pan, and unfold. *Gently* press the puff pastry into the corners and up the sides. This may involve lifting up a side of the pastry sheet and allowing it to settle into the corners of the pan.  You don't really want to stretch it.

Trim the overhang to about 1/2 to 3/4" inch (I used scissors).  Fold in overhang and press against sides to reinforce the sides of the pastry shell.

Prick the bottom of the shell with a fork.  I forgot to do this and boy I wish I had.  Oil a piece of foil (oil foil, heehee), and put the oiled side face down into the pastry.  Fill with pie weights, beans or rice (I use dried garbanzo beans that I save and reuse for this purpose).  You do this in order to weigh the pastry down and help it keep its shape while baking, since this is "puff" pastry and it has a tendency to do just that.

Bake for about 20 minutes.  You know how I said I didn't prick the bottom? Yeah my bad.  The point of doing that is to let air escape instead of having the bottom puff up.  When I opened the oven after 20 minutes, I was greeted by the bottom of the pastry billowing up so high that it was lifting the beans.  I attacked it with my fork.

Anyway, remove the foil and beans, and put back in oven until light golden, about 8-10 minutes.

My pastry shell ended up looking a little anemic on the bottom, and I give a shit not.

Then comes the layering.  Of which I would show you pictures except that again, it was getting to crunch time and I completely forgot.  But anyway what you do is:
  • Lower oven heat to 350 degrees
  • Spread onions evenly over bottom of shell
  • Distribute half of crumbled goat cheese over onions
  • Layer oven dried tomatoes in concentric circles, each tomato slightly overlapping with the other
  • Distribute remaining goat cheese over tomatoes
  • Sprinkle with parmesan and basil leaves
  • Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until edges of pastry are golden brown and cheese is slightly browned (mine didn't brown that much, to be honest, but I didn't want the pastry edges to burn so I pulled it out)

Kinda looks like a pizza, eh?  I'll show you the other recipes next time.


  1. Alright, I admit this makes vegetables look super tempting, even for veggie-averse peeps like myself. It's the goat cheese, I think. Definitely the goat cheese.

  2. wow that looks amazing! totally food mag-worthy!

  3. Wow, this looks totally amazing. I think I found my Saturday meal. YUM. Maybe I'll just copy your whole dinner and make all of it. :)