8/13/08

The Topnotch Tomato and Those Loco Spaniards

And to all Spaniard friends out there, please don't post any angry comments. I'll save you the trouble by reiterating that yours truly is (half) Spaniard, as well as irremediably loca en la cabeza. Olé.

You've all heard of La Tomatina, haven't you? The annual tomato fight in Valencia, Spain. Dios mío! What a waste of food that is. Don't get me wrong, I would love to find myself right in the middle of a 'mater melee, except I'd be the one holding up a big-ass catcher's mitt, rescuing every tomato being torpedoed my way. She runs, she catches. Crowd goes wild!

Yes, perhaps I was shaken a lot as a child. But few fruits are as tantalizing to me as freshly picked tomatoes.

And you know what I'd do with my tomato haul, aside from tomato sandwiches and pizza Margherita? Why, a Tomato Tart, of course.



The following has been a long-time favorite, and one which may very well become a favorite of yours.
Btw, I have (successfully) made this using both, a 9-inch round tart pan, as well as in a 14-inch rectangular tart pan.

Tomato Tart

Crust
This makes two 9-inch tart shells.

2½ cups AP flour
3 tablespoons semolina flour
1 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons [1½ sticks] cold, unsalted butter
3 tablespoons cold solid shortening
Ice water

Preheat oven to 400°F. Put the flours and salt in food processor. Pulse a couple of times, just enough to integrate the ingredients.
Add the butter and shortening all at once and pulse until the mixture looks like moist crumbs and no chunks of butter or shortening remain.
Sprinkle ice water over the surface of the dough. Repeat with 3 more tablespoonsful. Pulse to just bring the dough together. The dough should be past crumbly, but holding together. Cut the dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Press each half to form a disk. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before rolling out. Then roll out one disk to ¼" thick. Fit into your 9-inch tart pan, and chill 30 minutes.
Dock the bottom of the tart. Line it with parchment or foil, and weigh it down with pie weights or dried beans. Place tart shell on center rack in the oven and bake 10 minutes. Remove paper and weights from the pan. Return it to the oven and bake another 10-15 minutes or until the tart is a light-golden brown. Remove from the oven and set on wire rack to cool.

Filling

12-15 plum tomatoes, cored and cut into ¼"-thick rounds *
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard **
1 cup coarsely grated Gruyere cheese
1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
2 large eggs
¼ cup light cream
1 teaspoon salt
A few turns of freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375°F. Put the tomato slices in a colander and place in the sink. Let them sit for 15-20 minutes to drain off any excess liquid.
Spread the mustard evenly over the tart shell. Sprinkle the cheese over the mustard.
Working from the outside in, lay the drained tomato slices in overlapping, concentric circles, covering the crust completely.
Whisk the eggs in a bowl, whisk in the cream, Herbes de Provence, salt and pepper. Pour this custard evenly over the tomatoes until it comes to about ¼ inch from the top edge of the crust. Bake for 1 hour, to 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until the custard is set.
Adapted from the book Once Upon a Tart.



* I've found 8 plum tomatoes sufficient enough to fill a 9-inch tomato tart. You may need more or less, depending on the size tomato you use.
** I sometimes spread Pesto instead of Dijon mustard on the bottom of the tart.