This roasted tomato tart with Cheddar and basil is brimming with flavorful slow-roasted tomatoes that bear an intensely concentrated essence and melds it all with an easy free-form pastry crust.
Any tomatoes, whether plain old plum or Roma tomatoes at the supermarket or seductively misshapen heirlooms from the farmers’ market, will do the trick in this 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. 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.–Renee Schettler
Roasted Tomato-Basil Tart
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 rosemary leaves
- 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 (3 oz) 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 basil leaves (that means cut into long, narrow strips)
- 2 tablespoons crème fraîche
- 1 large egg mixed with 1 tablespoon whole milk
Make the slow-roasted tomatoes
- Preheat the oven to 225°F (107°C).
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat it to 375°F (190°C).
- 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.
- 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 move the round to the parchment.
- 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.
- Bake the tart for 30 to 40 minutes, until the crust is a nice golden brown. Remove the tart from the oven, and slide it onto a wire rack, and let it cool until it’s warm or at room temperature. Slice and serve.
*What is St. George cheese?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. It’s a semi hard to hard cheese, made from cow’s milk. It has a texture similar to Cheddar with a buttery feel and spicy, tangy undertones. A good sharp white Cheddar or even Manchego would make a terrific substitute.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
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?
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.
Originally published September 19, 2012