Where have I been? Where have I been? Well, I’ve been unsuccessfully working on composing this post for over a week now. In fact, it’s taken me so long to get this post completed, that I actually received a semi-panicked phone call from my dad, during the mutually agreed upon no-call hour (kids’ bedtime) to make sure I was ok. Awww… My dad checks in on me via this blog. I love that. And yes, I’m am fully ok. Just sucked into the time warp which is having a newborn baby and two very active young boys.
To be fair, I can hardly blame my absence on the baby. He is fully content to stay snuggled in my lap, quietly nursing, as I write. It’s my other two monkeys who leave me with minimal focused time for writing; the ones who are in a perpetual state of movement, mischief, and mayhem.
Oh, and the noise level… I have no words to describe the constant cacophony of assorted noises in this house; trucks, barking dogs, rockin’ guitars, the singing Handy Manny tool box, Spongebob on TV, laughing, screaming, whining, and some other toy that’s perpetually shouting letters at me. Even the puzzles make noise. I’m considering ditching all of these modern, noise-making toys, and bringing back some nice, quiet, battery-free tops, jacks, and jump ropes. Or perhaps I should just buy a set of heavy duty, noise-blocking headphones?
When all is said and done, it’s just been a bit tricky to write lately.
My posts may be few and far between these days, but we’re definitely still cooking! My busy little family needs to eat and summer produce is just begging to be devoured. It’s tomato season now; that time of year where tomatoes are so sweet and luscious, they really live up to their classification as a fruit. Now is the time to whip out those recipes which really showcase ripe tomato flavor.
I’m paying homage to a few beautiful heirloom tomatoes in a simple tart, paired with goat cheese, in a buttery pine nut crust. A bit of fresh basil pesto and a drizzle of balsamic glaze complete the dish. My children have aptly dubbed this recipe “rainbow tomato pie”. My grocery store carries an assortment of gorgeous heirloom tomatoes when the season is right, but specialty tomatoes are not a necessity for this recipe. A few ripe plum tomatoes from your garden or the grocery store will work perfectly.
The tart itself is a cinch to put together once you’ve prepared the crust. There’s no need to get complicated when the ingredients are so prime. Preparing the crust takes a little time, but the good news is that it can be prepared at any point ahead of time and frozen until you’re ready to use it. Freezing the dough in the tart pan prior to baking has the added benefit of reducing shrinkage during baking.
The key to preparing a perfect pie or tart crust is to keep the ingredients cold and avoid overworking the dough. To this end, you’ll want to keep all of your ingredients refrigerated until the moment of use. An extra cold surface, such as a marble slab, is helpful, but not mandatory. As you work, handle the dough as little as possible to prevent the butter from melting by the warmth of your hands.
Heirloom Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart in a Pine Nut Crust
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 10 tablespoons butter, very cold
- 1 egg
- 3 tablespoons ice cold water
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
- 3 ounces goat cheese
- 3 heirloom tomatoes, sliced
- Fresh Basil Pesto (Click here to see my basil pesto recipe.)
- Balsamic Reduction/Glaze (optional)
To prepare the pine nut crust: Cut the butter into small chunks, then refrigerate to ensure it is very cold. Combine the flour and salt, then pour the dry ingredients onto your work surface. Add the butter to the flour and use a dough cutter or a fork to cut the butter into the flour mixture until the chunks of butter resemble very small peas. Form an “O” shape on your work surface with the mixture. Place the egg and cold water into the center of the “O”, then use your fingers to gradually draw the flour mixture into the wet ingredients. Continue combining the flour mixture with the egg and water until a dough forms. Once the dough has mostly come together, add the pine nuts and gently knead the dough a few times, just until the pine nuts are evenly dispersed. Work quickly to avoid melting the butter. The dough should be firm and not too sticky. Add additional water, a few drops at a time, if necessary. Form the dough into a round disk shape, wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
Once the dough is chilled, roll it into a round on a lightly floured surface, about 1/8″-1/4″ thick, wide enough to fit your tart pan. (A 9″ diameter tart pan, with a low edge and removable bottom is ideal for this recipe, but other tart pans can be used.) Carefully transfer the dough into your tart pan, gently press it into the bottom and sides, and use a knife to cut off any excess dough. Prick the bottom of the dough several times with a fork. Gently press foil over the dough to cover it and freeze for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake, with the foil in place, for 20-25 minutes until the dough appears mostly cooked. Then, remove the foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until the dough is golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool before assembling the tart.
While the tart crust cools, prepare the tomatoes by sprinkling with a bit of salt. Then, place the salted tomatoes in a colander to drain for about 30 minutes. The salt will help to draw out some of the excess liquid in the tomatoes in order to prevent a soggy tart.
To assemble the tart, spread a thin layer of basil pesto on the bottom of the tart crust. Sprinkle the goat cheese in an even layer over the pesto. Then, arrange the tomato slices on top of the goat cheese. Bake for about 25 minutes in a 375 degrees oven. Allow to cool slightly before serving. The tart is best served a little warm or at room temperature.
If desired, drizzle with a bit of balsamic glaze before serving. (You can purchase balsamic glaze at many grocery stores or prepare your own by simmering balsamic vinegar with some sugar or honey until it reduces into a thick, sweet glaze.) I highly recommend this finishing touch!