For a summer lunch, an appetizer for a more formal dinner, or a simple supper dish paired with a hearty salad, this tart is a versatile addition to anyone’s repertoire. Because the crust is made with purchased puff pastry dough, it’s extremely easy to make, even for crust-phobics. Since I prefer the taste of fresh tomatoes, I make this like a savory version of a fruit custard tart, arranging the raw sliced tomatoes on top just after the baked tart comes out of the oven, which heats the tomatoes but doesn’t cook them. If you prefer the flavor of cooked tomatoes, arrange the sliced tomatoes on the dough, pour the custard filling over them, and bake. Although you can make this tart early in the day if you put the tomatoes in first and then cook them, this is not a recipe to make ahead if you’re topping it with raw tomatoes-once you’ve put the tomatoes on top of the custard, it should be served within an hour or two.—Deborah Krasner
1 puff pastry sheet, thawed according to the package directions
1 cup fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons fruity and fragrant olive oil
3 extra-large eggs
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 large ripe tomatoes
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a 9-inch porcelain or metal tart pan with the pastry. Do not grease the pan. Put the whole square sheet in the pan, cutting and patching as necessary to make it fit.
2. Combine the basil, cream, 2 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil, eggs, and salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor, and process until the basil is very finely chopped.
3. Pour this mixture into the pastry-lined pan, and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until cooked through, golden, and fragrant. The tart will puff up in the oven, but will immediately deflate when it starts to cool.
4. While the tart is baking, use a sharp serrated knife to thinly slice the tomatoes. As soon as you remove the tart from the oven, arrange the tomato slices on top, working in a spiral from the outer edge to the center, overlapping the slices. Use the smallest pieces of tomato for the center. Drizzle the remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil over the tomatoes. Serve slightly warm.
Recipe © 2002 Deborah Krasner. All rights reserved.