It seems like everyone has an opinion these days, and they will defend their viewpoint loudly and emphatically. But there may be one thing we can all agree on - there is nothing more welcome than that first ripe red tomato, right off the vine and warm from the sun.
Gardeners like me hold onto that delicious thought for many cold months, waiting for the spring thaw, the best seedling to be planted on the first week of warm weather, and the long, long wait while the plant blooms and – finally – the little green balls turn from chartreuse to pink to lovely deep red – or gold or striped, etc.
If you are not a gardener, the sight of pyramids of a rainbow of tomatoes at the farmers market will do the trick. Either way you acquire them, tomato time is now!
Certainly there will still be several weeks of tomato goodness in which to savor the sandwiches and salads we have all waited for. But, for me, the height of goodness is the day I can make a Tomato Tart.
There are dozens of recipes for this summer time treat. This is my favorite, and I make it throughout the season. You can use any tomatoes you like, whether you have dark purple heirlooms, the ubiquitous Big Boy, or even meaty Roma style. Small cherry tomatoes can be halved and tucked in spaces around the larger slices. As long as they are very ripe and tasty, any type or combination will work. This recipe has a slightly crunchy crust thanks to cornmeal, which gives it an interesting texture as a great foil to the rich creamy filling and the luscious tomatoes on top.
Another bonus of this recipe is that it is just as delicious served room temperature at a picnic as it is hot from the oven. So bake it in the cool morning if you like, then serve it for lunch or a light supper and enjoy the best of summer on a plate.
An Emile Henry pie pan is perfect for the tart and looks nice on the table. Get one through our online store, where you will find over 100 products to make your cooking tastier and easier, and available for curbside pickup from our Lincoln Square location.
Tomato Pie with Cornmeal Crust
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
Makes one 9 or 10 inch Pie
For the Cornmeal Crust:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup coarse stoneground corn meal (see note)
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, cold, cut into chunks
1. Preheat oven to 400º.
2. In a food processor, combine all crust ingredients and pulse until the dough begins to come together. Remove a bit and see that it will hold together when pinched between fingers – if it is crumbly, add a bit of cold water, up to 2 tablespoons.
3. Remove the dough to a 9-deep dish pie pan or 10-inch removable bottom tart pan, and press firmly into the bottom and up the sides using your fingers, then use the bottom of a measuring cup to make a smooth interior.
4. Bake about 12 minutes while preparing filling – it will not be cooked through, but surface should have dried.
For the Filling:
2 large tomatoes, cored and sliced ¼ inch thick – about 15 slices
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup shredded cheddar or mozzarella
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 cup finely ground Parmesan cheese
Fresh ground black pepper
8 – 10 basil leaves, shredded
1. Slice the tomatoes into 1/4-inch slices and arrange in a single layer on double paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and let stand 10- 15 minutes.
2. Place mayonnaise and cheese in a small bowl. Add the paprika and stir just until combined.
3. When crust has baked, press again to flatten. Let cool on rack 10 minutes.
4. Spread the mayo/cheese mixture evenly over the bottom of the crust. Blot tomatoes well and place into the crust in overlapping circles. (Fill in any empty spaces with halved cherry tomatoes if desired.) Grind some black pepper over all. Sprinkle with the basil leaves and the Parmesan cheese.
5. Bake for 45 minutes. The crust should be golden brown and the filling should be bubbling.
6. Let cool several minutes before cutting - or serve at room temperature.
NOTE: I prefer the crunch of stone ground cornmeal; if you do not, or don’t have any on hand, regular cornmeal from the cardboard cylinder will work just fine.
This recipe will also make four 4-inch individual tarts. The baking time will be slightly shorter, about 30 minutes.
Learn how to make The Chopping Block's Owner/Chef Shelley Young's version of Fresh Tomato Pie in a virtual cooking demonstration to benefit Chicago's Green City Market. You can add a donation to support one of our favorite local farmers markets when you register for the class. Join us on Thursday, August 13 at 6pm CST for this seasonal menu:
- Fresh Herb Salad with Lemon Dressing
- Fresh Tomato Pie