I feel so badly that I didn't take a photograph of this gorgeous thing, but I do have to share this recipe...it's a mix of several recipes, all modified to incorporate the ghosts of tomato tarts past, a bunch of things I learned after taking a baking class at Sur La Table with my pal, Michael Ritterbrown, and a lot of trial and error...
You can make the crust the day before and keep it in an airtight container in the fridge until you have to roll it out...
For The Crust:
1 stick (4oz) cold unsalted better, cut into 1/2" pieces
3-4 T cold water (I use a cup of water with ice in it!)
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 – 3/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano shavings
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Place cut pieces of butter in a bowl or plate and freeze for 20 minutes. Refrigerate water in a small measuring cup until needed.
Mix the Dough: Place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process about 10 seconds to blend the ingredients. Add the frozen butter pieces and pulse 6-10 times (in 1 second bursts) until the butter and flour mixture looks like oatmeal flakes.
Immediately transfer the butter-flour mixture into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle a tablespoon of the cold water over the mixture and “fluff” it in with a fork, then add another, and another, until 3 Tablespoons have been added. Continue to fluff and stir 10 – 12 times. It will not be a cohesive dough at this point, but a bowl of shaggy crumbs and clumps of dough. Before bringing the dough together, you need to test it for the correct moisture content. Take a handful of the mixture and squeeze firmly. Open your hand. If the clump falls apart and looks dry, remove any large, moist clumps from the bowl and add more water, one teaspoon at a time, sprinkling it over the top of the mixture and immediately fluffing it in. Test again before adding anymore water. Repeat, if needed. The dough is done when it holds together (even if a few small pieces fall off). If the butter feels soft and squishy, refrigerate before continuing. If the butter is still cold and firm, continue to the next step.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and kneed gently 3-6 times. If it won’t come together and looks very dry, return it to the bowl and add another teaspoon or two of ice water (one at a time), mixing it in as above and try again. Flatten the dough into a 6-7” disk, wrap in plastic or parchment paper, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
When dough is cold again, roll it out into a thin circle (enough to fully cover an 9.5” tart pan (I use the fluted ones with removable bottoms), using a floured rolling pin on a floured board. Carefully lift crust and press into the tart pan.
Line the tart shell with parchment or foil, and fill with pie weights (I use dried beans for this!). Make sure the weights reach up the sides to the rim of the pan!
Bake the shell for about 20-30 minutes, in a preheated 375 degree oven, until it starts to look golden. Take shell out of the oven (be sure to hold the pan by the sides and not the bottom!!), and lift out the parchment / foil and weights. Line the bottom of the tart shell with the parmesan shavings, sprinkle with thyme leaves, and return it to the oven for about 10 minutes.
For The Filling:
About 2 lbs mixed heirloom tomatoes, halved lengthwise. I like to use different colors and sizes...everything from grape to plum to big old brandywines.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
2 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano shavings plus additional for garnish
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss tomatoes with 2 tablespoons oil, 2 teaspoons thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in a bowl until well coated. Roast tomatoes, cut sides up and in 1 layer, in foil-lined baking pan in middle of oven, about an 1 hour, or until tomatoes start to brown.
After roasting tomatoes for about 20 minutes, move tomatoes in pan to lower third of oven and put pastry on baking sheet on middle rack. Bake pastry and tomatoes separately (see instructions) until pastry is finished, and edges of tomatoes are slightly browned but still appear juicy.
Top shavings with warm tomatoes, cut sides down and in 1 layer, then sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/2 teaspoon thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, pepper to taste, and additional cheese shavings if desired. (Also the olive oil and tomato drippings (yum) left in the roasting pan is great to drizzle on top!)
Let me know how it goes…Happy Cooking!