Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts

How is this for a weekend lunch?

Jim and I went to the Farmers Market on Saturday and were mesmerized by all the gorgeous tomato varieties.
It’s a kick in the pants to have to purchase them with so many tomato plants in our garden, but our neighborhood tough-ass chipmunks steal them while they’re still green, and we have yet to eat one.
Now they have included the ripe figs into their daily diet.
Jim decided we would be better off having a chipmunk farm and selling their succulent little carcasses – filleted and deboned, for the squeamish.
It is probably the best meat in the world considering their perfect au courant diet of fruits, vegetables and nuts… local and in season.

Hence, Jim and I were scouting the market.
I needed a couple varieties to bake in a tart, and others for a Capresse Salad.
We purchased an heirloom variety called Brandywine, the clear favorite of one farmer.
Jim spotted a couple of nice looking Beefsteaks, a favorite seedling sold in the nurseries in the spring.
We also bought Juliet, Cosmonaut, and a small yellow one to round out the color wheel.

Our tasting lunch was an eye opener – Brandywine rose to stardom, with a meaty density and delicious flavor. Cosmonaut and Beefsteak were feeble last place finishers. (Do you think we’ve been watching too much of the Olympics?)
Later, I put together the tart to serve as hors d’oeuvres for a casual dinner with friends.

Ina Garten, (aka The Barefoot Contessa), never lets me down. I have a cookbook stand on the counter, and more often than not, one of her seven books is on it. They are well loved, with my many handwritten notations of celebrations, dates and exclamations, like ‘The best chocolate cake in the universe!’ and ‘Watch out! This is too good!’

We unanimously swooned over the deliciousness of the Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart.
I mean, it was crazy good…not to be missed heavenly.
I think the ultimate way to enjoy these is to have one tart all to yourself, (a massive indulgence), alongside a freshly plucked green salad, and a lovely cool glass of Chardonnay.
What a perfect Sunday lunch with your best pal or adoring husband. (If he doesn’t adore you now, he will after tasting this.)

Another great thing about this recipe is that once you’ve assembled the base of pastry with the slow, (slow is SO important….the key to success), cooked onions on top, you can add any seasonal vegetable you love, from asparagus to broccoli to sun-dried tomatoes to zucchini…let your imagination make some magic with your own tasty concoction.

1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) puff pastry, defrosted
Good olive oil
4 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (2 large onions)
3 large garlic cloves cut into thin slivers
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons dry white wine
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, plus 2 ounces shaved with a vegetable peeler
4 ounces garlic-and-herb goat cheese (recommended: Montrachet)
1 large tomato, cut into 4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices
3 tablespoons julienne basil leaves
Unfold a sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll it lightly to an 11 by 11-inch square. Using a 6-inch wide saucer or other round object as a guide, cut 2 circles from the sheet of puff pastry, discarding the scraps. Repeat with the second pastry sheet to make 4 circles in all. Place the pastry circles on 2 sheet pans lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium to low heat and add the onions and garlic. Sauté for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are limp and there is almost no moisture remaining in the skillet. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the wine, and thyme and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned. Remove from the heat.

Using a sharp paring knife, score a 1/4-inch-wide border around each pastry circle. Prick the pastry inside the score lines with the tines of a fork and sprinkle a tablespoon of grated Parmesan on each round, staying inside the scored border.

Place 1/4 of the onion mixture on each circle, again staying within the scored edge. Crumble 1 ounce of goat cheese on top of the onions. Place a slice of tomato in the center of each tart. Brush the tomato lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with basil, salt, and pepper. Finally, scatter 4 or 5 shards of Parmesan on each tart.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. The bottom sheet pan may need an extra few minutes in the oven. Serve hot or warm.

Tonight, we went to a cocktail party, and I assembled the tart the same way but in mini muffin tins.

I’ve tried several other puff pastry brands, but it is clear why Dufour is a prizewinner.

In these mini portions, be generous with all the ingredients but thinly slice the tomatoes so they cook thoroughly.


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