Tomato Tart

Tomato season is glorious! I can’t get enough of the luscious garden tomatoes; like the rays of the summer sun, I just want to soak them up, revel in them and try to store away the joy they bring in order to conjure the memory during the darkest, gloomiest part of winter. I have 12 tomato plants this year and it has been fun growing some unusual varieties: Peach, Big Rainbow, German Green, Pink Brandywine as well as the standards. For this tart, I used the classic Beefsteak tomato. The reddest red with a pure tomato flavor. The recipe originates (with some adjustments) from Midwest Living magazine (June 2005); it is a classic to love and cherish.

A note about the piecrust: I have tried so many different recipes, methods and techniques but in the end I love my own (very easy) recipe the most. I have been making this pretty successfully since high school and I’ve found that I only run into trouble when I try to deviate. Having said this, you can use your own recipe, one from Smitten Kitchen or a store-bought crust (my least favorite option since the crusts usually contain sugar).

Pie Crust:
1 cup flour
1 stick unsalted butter
1/4 -1/2 t salt (your preference)
2 T (or more) water

In a food processor, pulse the butter, salt and flour a fair amount; you want it to be able to hold together fairly well when pinched (so a bit more than the “wet sand” that is often mentioned in pie crust recipes). Turn out this mixture into a large bowl and lightly drizzle the 2 T of water over; toss with a fork until it starts to come together. If you can gather the dough easily into a disk, do so and refrigerate for 1/2 hour or so. If you can’t gather the dough or it is too crumbly, add another teaspoon or two of water, toss with a fork and then gather.

For the Tart:
1 piecrust
8 oz. shredded cheese (use something interesting- I used a Monterey Jack but you can use Gouda, Edam or any shreddable cheese that you like)
2 large tomatoes (you want around 14 wedges roughly 1 to 1 1/2 inch thick- see picture)
basil leaves (I used one snipped into tiny pieces)
1 large clove garlic, minced tiny
1/2 cup mayo
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
freshly ground pepper

Put the tomato wedges on a paper-towel lined plate and salt with kosher salt; let them sit while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
Preheat the oven to 450º. Roll out the pie crust and line a standard (preferably metal) pie plate, trimming the top edge. Freeze for 15 minutes and then bake for 7 minutes (no pie weights necessary). As soon as it comes out of the oven, sprinkle 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese on the bottom. Reduce the oven to 375º.
Stir together the remaining ingredients (except for the tomatoes) and spread across the bottom of the piecrust. Blot the tomatoes with a paper towel and arrange them concentrically over the cheese mixture. Bake for around 50 minutes until cheese is browned and puffed nicely. If you have a pizza stone in the oven on which to bake this tart, all the better!

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