Roasted Tomato-Basil Tart with St. George Cheddar

Roasted Tomato-Basil Tart Recipe

This is another recipe inspired by a trip my wife and I took to Paris. We were there in the late summer and fell in love with a tomato and basil tart. When we got home, we went to the market, found the freshest heirloom tomatoes and basil available, and then made that tart. Although it was delicious, the tomatoes released too much of their liquid, which made the crust soggy. So we decided to slow roast the tomatoes to draw out their moisture and intensify their flavor before we added them to the tart shell. The smell and taste of the finished tart were so vivid that eating it was like taking a sensory vacation to Paris. If you’ve been to Paris, this tart will take you back. If you haven’t been to Paris, it will give you a taste of what you will find when you do go.

I make a free-form tart shell using Italian pastry dough known as pasta frolla, a shortbread-type dough that is more commonly used for fruit crostate (tarts), though I nix most of the sugar. St. George cheese—made in northern California—is reminiscent of Cheddar but in the style of a traditional cheese of the Azorean island of Sào Jorge. What I like about this dish is that it can be used at any point during a meal. You can cut it up into small pieces for a great “small bite,” serve it as an appetizer, or pair it with a salad for a satisfying main course.–Mitchell Rosenthal

LC One Size Fits All Note

Any tomatoes, whether pale plum or Roma tomatoes at the supermarket or seductively misshapen heirlooms from the farmers’ market, will do the trick in this seductive tart. Slow roasting the summery orbs (or, if using plum tomatoes, oblongs) concentrates the tomatoes’ sweet depths without masking their inherent acidity. And when you layer that on a simple pastry with aged cheese and basil, well, you sorta have to taste a slice of this tart to truly understand.

Roasted Tomato-Basil Tart Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 45 M
  • 6 H
  • Serves 8

Ingredients

  • For the slow-roasted tomatoes
  • 2 pounds plum tomatoes (or smallish heirloom tomatoes of any sort)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For the tart dough
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons ice water
  • For the tart
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound St. George or medium-aged white Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup chiffonade of fresh basil (that means cut into long, narrow strips)
  • 2 tablespoons crème fraîche
  • 1 large egg mixed with 1 tablespoon whole milk

Directions

  • Make the slow-roasted tomatoes
  • 1. Preheat the oven to 225°F (107°C).
  • 2. Cut each tomato in half crosswise. (Alternatively, if using large plum tomatoes or any size heirloom tomatoes, thickly slice the tomatoes crosswise into about 4 portions.) Arrange the sliced tomatoes, cut side up, on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle the tomato halves evenly with the olive oil, sprinkle with the rosemary, and season with salt and pepper. Roast the tomatoes until the moisture is completely removed, 4 to 6 hours, depending on the size of your tomatoes. The tomatoes should be dry but still soft to the touch, and when you press a tomato with your finger, it will feel plump yet exude no liquid. (If using sliced tomatoes instead of halves, you may wish to start checking them at 2 hours.) Remove from the oven and let the tomatoes cool completely.
  • Make the tart dough
  • 3. In a bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Scatter the butter over the flour mixture and, using your fingers, gently press the butter and flour together until it resembles a coarse meal. Drizzle the ice water over the top and, using a fork, gently toss and stir just until the dough comes together in a cohesive clump.
  • 4. Gather the dough into a ball and place it on a lightly floured work surface. Flatten the dough into a thick disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.
  • Assemble the tart
  • 5. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat it to 375°F (190°C).
  • 6. In a sauté pan, heat the 2 tablespoons oil over low heat and stir in the onion. Cover and sweat over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent. Do not allow the onion to color. (Alternatively, if you prefer properly caramelized onions, you can uncover and cook the onions until golden brown and intensely flavorful.) Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper, and let cool completely.
  • 7. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to a round about 12 inches in diameter. Carefully transfer the round to the parchment.
  • 8. Layer half of the cheese on the dough round, leaving a 1-inch border uncovered around the edge. In a small bowl, combine the cooled onion, the basil, and the crème fraîche and mix well. Spread the onion mixture evenly over the cheese layer. Top with the roasted tomatoes, then cover with the remaining cheese. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Fold the uncovered edge of the tart onto itself, forming uniformly spaced pleats every few inches around the perimeter. Brush the overturned edge of dough with the egg wash.
  • 9. Bake the tart for 30 to 40 minutes, until the crust is a nice golden brown. Remove the tart from the oven, transfer it to a wire rack, and let it cool until it’s warm or at room temperature. Slice and serve.
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Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Erin W.

Sep 19, 2012

Oh my. This tart is definitely in the “make again” category for a number of reasons. First of all, nothing beats the combination of late-summer tomatoes and good-quality white cheddar cheese. Since I didn’t have plum tomatoes in my garden, I used grocery store tomatoes and found, much to my infinite delight, that the slow roasting brought out every bit of smoky sweet goodness those tomatoes had to offer. Wow—these just dripped and oozed flavor. Could it be that this tart can be replicated in the tomato’s off-season with equal success? I’ll definitely be finding out. The tart dough was a dream to work with. It came together quickly in my Cuisinart and, once chilled, was so easy to roll out and crimp up in a rustic crostata style. The finished product looked like it came out of a professional kitchen. This would be a real showstopper at a dinner party or luncheon.

My halved plum tomatoes were still very moist at 4 hours, and in fact, still pretty moist at 5 and even 6 hours, so I was confused by the instruction to roast until “the moisture is completely removed.” Luckily, the remaining juices didn’t ruin the bottom of the tart dough as I’d feared, but I still feel like the potential for a soggy tart bottom is fairly high. My recommendation would be to cut the plum tomatoes in 4 slices next time, not 2 (and to watch them in the oven carefully after 2 hours so they don’t become too dry and leathery). Also, I believe the 2 pounds of tomatoes called for was on the high side. The tart wasn’t overly generous in size and I only had room on top for 6 halves. Maybe I should’ve added more tomatoes, overlapping them?

Testers Choice
Lori Widmeyer

Sep 19, 2012

I love tomato pie but have always had the same problem—the liquid from the tomatoes‚ even after I drained and salted them, making the crust soggy. So I was so excited to see this brilliant recipe using roasted tomatoes. When I removed the tomatoes from the oven, they had a dark, rich color with brown edges. Making the tart dough the day before and the tomatoes and onions in the afternoon made this so easy to put together and have for dinner with friends. I served this with a salad, grilled marinated pork tenderloin, and rolls—truly wonderful.

Testers Choice
Adrienne Lee

Sep 19, 2012

This is a delicious tart. Given that tomatoes are in season right now, it’s a great time to do something different. You can do this recipe in pieces over a few days to make it easier or as a weekend project. The onions took a lot less time than the recipe stated and they definitely could be made a day ahead. I’d also say that a little browning wouldn’t hurt. (We all really like caramelized onions here.) The dough could also be made a day ahead. I used aged sharp white Cheddar, and it was delicious in combination with the other flavors. It took about 30 minutes to bake. It has a very thin crust. The taste is great and it looks beautiful.

Testers Choice
Linda Pacchiano

Sep 19, 2012

I made this tart twice, and both times it got rave reviews from my tasters. The tomatoes took exactly 4 hours to roast. They were quite dry, but still soft to the touch and looked exactly like sun-dried tomatoes. I used my own homegrown San Marzano tomatoes, which roasted to a sweet, intense tomato flavor. The crust was perfectly tender and flaky, which I attribute to mixing it by hand. Nowadays, so many tart/piecrust recipes use the food processor, which can lead to a much less tender crust. My tart took 40 minutes to bake.

Testers Choice
Kim Graham

Sep 19, 2012

This tart was a little bit of a project, but very easy to break down into parts and then put together quickly. It came out beautifully, too, with perfect, flaky pastry, sweet tomatoes, and tangy Cheddar. I’ve made a different tomato tart each week this summer, trying to keep up with the tomatoes ripening in my garden, and this one is my favorite to date.

The only small problem I ran into was with the roasting of the tomatoes. After 4 hours in the oven, they still seemed to have quite a bit of liquid left so I let them go for another hour, and then another hour after that for 6 hours total. At that point, I still wasn’t 100% sure that they were done, but it was late and I needed to get to bed so I let them cool a little before putting them away in the refrigerator. The next day, it became clear that they were in fact done when I pulled them out. I think the main cue was that when I pressed into one with my finger, even though it still appeared to be plump, no liquid seeped out and they were quite a bit darker than when they started.

With the pastry, I found I only needed 4 tablespoons of the ice water. All the bits of flour were wet and I was afraid if I added the last tablespoon it’d be a soggy mess. I’d recommend adding 2 tablespoons at a time, tossing the flour/butter mixture until it appears it’ll come together into a cohesive dough. I refrigerated the pastry for several hours and it rolled out beautifully once I was ready to assemble the tart.

When the tart was sitting on the counter waiting to go into the oven, my husband came into the kitchen and was very impressed with how pretty it looked. We both hoped that its flavor would live up to its looks and it certainly didn’t disappoint. We served the tart with a simple green salad for a wonderful summer meal.

Testers Choice
Chiyo Ueyama

Sep 19, 2012

A very nice summer tart full of great flavors. The tomatoes were rich from slow roasting, and with the sweet onion and cheese, they made a juicy, gooey, and delicious topping. I made the crust, roasted the tomatoes, and sautéed the onion the day before (I didn’t think the onion would “cool completely” while the oven preheated), which made it a cinch to assemble the tart for dinner the following day. Do you end up with lots of garden tomatoes at the end of the season? Save 8 or so plum tomatoes for this tart—it’d be lovely for a summer’s-end picnic. (One leftover piece spent the night in the fridge at our house. I ate it cold the next day for lunch and was pleased that the crust wasn’t at all soggy.)

Testers Choice
Steve Dunn

Sep 19, 2012

As a longtime fan of tomato pie (my mom makes a killer one), I had high hopes for this more refined interpretation, and I wasn’t disappointed. Whereas mom’s tomato pie dilutes the essence of the tomatoes by using them raw and including copious amounts of mayonnaise, this tart highlights our sweet summer friends by calling for roasted tomatoes (the roasting greatly concentrates their flavor), just a touch of crème fraîche, and a fine cheddar to provide a salty counterpoint. The sweetness of the gently cooked onion reinforces the flavor of the tomatoes without overpowering it, and the herbal kick from the basil brings the whole combination into sharp focus.

The tart dough was wonderful to work with, though I did find that a 1-inch border didn’t quite provide enough of a lip to safely contain the tart’s filling, which started to ooze out in a couple of spots. I also found that the tomatoes took about an hour longer than the recipe dictates to achieve the supple, leatherlike consistency of a perfectly roasted Roma. Of course, it could be due to the fact that my Romas were a touch on the large side. Finally, in my oven the tart was done at just over 40 minutes, with the cheese starting to burn in spots, so pay attention as you approach the end of the stated cooking time.

We let ours cool to just slightly warm before eating it and were thrilled with the result. The crisp, buttery crust, the bold umami sweetness of the roasted tomatoes, and the caramelized salty chew of the cheddar make this a dish that I know we’ll enjoy many more times in the waning weeks of our fabulous tomato season.

Testers Choice
Linda B.

Sep 19, 2012

This tart is flavorful and savory and would be perfect before dinner with drinks or as a main course with a salad. For an appetizer, it might be fun to make in a long rectangular tart pan so it could be cut into squares. Also, the tomatoes are delicious on their own.

Comments
Comments
  1. Lauralee Hensley says:

    Oh YUM.

  2. Penny F. says:

    Oh this just looks sooooo good! I will be making this soon.

  3. Rod says:

    I have been roasting tomatoes for some time and use them for salsas, sauces, etc. I find that the convection setting at 200 does the best job.

    • Beth Price, LC Director of Recipe Testing says:

      Thanks for the tip, Rod. Are you going to use some of your tomatoes in this luscious tart?

      • Rod says:

        Yes, making one right now. Used some just picked beefsteak tomatoes. Sliced half inch thick and roasted at 200 covection. Took 2.5 hours to get to consistency. Will have for lunch. Now if I could only make pastry!

        • Beth Price, LC Director of Recipe Testing says:

          Well, Rod, the old adage of “practice makes perfect” really applies to pastry doughs. It seems like each time you make it, the process gets easier and results more pleasing. Though I have to admit, in a pinch I’ve been known to use refrigerated pie dough from the store. Shhh, don’t tell.

  4. I had initially planned to roast the tomatoes today and make the tart tomorrow. But honestly, the smell of the tomatoes roasting for hours pushed me over the edge and I’ve whipped the tart up a day early. (You really should warn people about the tantalizing aroma. I was able to refrain from licking my oven door, but my son kept toddling into the kitchen and pointing at the oven accusingly, in a manner that suggested I’d created a special new form of torture. This is truly a delight and a recipe not to be missed!

    • Lindsay Myers says:

      Oh Kristen, what a hysterical image. I feel as though we ought to apologize for driving your family temporarily mad with tomato tart lust, but it sounds like it was well worth it!

  5. Karyl says:

    I wonder about using sun-dried tomatoes, canned in olive oil and drained well…
    Your recipe just arrived in my FB and I’m drooling!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Love to hear that you’re drooling, Karyl! I worry that sun-dried tomatoes may become a little tough…but if you try it, kindly let us know how it goes…!

  6. Karen says:

    Oh My! This was so delicious! The roasted tomatoes were sweet and robust. The crust was to die for. I had no issue with the crust becoming soggy. It takes time to do this in a day, so plan ahead. But, it is so worth it!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      So glad to hear you found it every bit as worthwhile as we did, Karen! Really appreciate you taking the time to jot us a note. Looking forward to hearing which recipe from the site you try next…!

  7. Heather Hill says:

    I love this tart and wonder if it can be made ahead of time and frozen? Has anyone done that? Heather

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Heather many thanks for letting us know how well the tart turned out. We’ve heard nothing but raves about this recipe! I just posed your question about freezing the tart to our recipe testers who’ve made this, and no one has frozen the entire tart. We worry about freezing the assembled tart due to the crème fraîche mixture and the resulting wateriness that could result during thawing. However, one tester has frozen the dough for the crust as well as the oven-roasted tomatoes, separately, with great success. Although this is not quite the same as being able to pop the entire tart into the oven straight from the freezer, it does still save you a substantial amount of time the day that you’d like to serve the tart. I hope this helps, and we’d love to hear what you decide to do and how it works.

  8. Jane says:

    I searched for a recipe online having had a tomato pie at a restaurant. Their recipe had feta and olives in it so bought some in readiness for making my own version. Then I came across your recipe…. I was sold on your idea of roasting the tomatoes. I also loved the idea of making a freeform pastry case. So… my version of your tomato basil tart also contains feta and olives. Last fall I froze ice cube trays full of my over production of basil with olive oil – only enough olive oil to lubricate the food processor – and allow a basil puree to form. I used 4 thawed basil cubes to mix with the onion to form the underlayer, then used a combination of feta and gruyere for the cheese. Layered the tomatoes and finished with grated gruyere. I left a margin of around an inch and a half around the edge to pull up and crimp. Baking on parchment paper on a metal tray was wonderful for ensuring no ‘soggy bottom’. All in all your recipe was a wonderful basis for a tomato tart! Thank you.

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