A Tomato that looks flawed creates a Tart that is pure perfection.
The heirloom tomato has arrived. Heirlooms, or “Heritage Tomatoes” if you’re British, are not always the most beautiful on the outside. But the first slice brings a flood of great tomato flavor. They’re sweeter and more robust than any other variety. You must carefully select them because they have a short shelf life and you’ll only find them in summer. And then, for far too few weeks. This tart is a celebration of the Heirloom Tomato. Their juicy presence is in every bite of this cheese-filled,pesto-accented custard filling in a flaky crust. And if you don’t fancy making that crust, Vallery Lomas, whose recipe this is, allows as how you can use a store-bought crust. Need we tell you, that will never happen in our house.
How to pick the perfect Heirloom Tomato:
If there’s anything worse than spending a small fortune on an Heirloom, it’s getting home and finding it a mushy mess. It happened here! So here, some words of wisdom on how to avoid disappointment. Do not buy Grocery Store heirlooms. The more local the tomato, the better it’s going to be. A farmer’s market or farm stand is your best bet. There, you can ask which varieties are best. Use your eyes. The skin should be taut and shiny. No splits or bruises. And the bottom of the tomato should be nice and dark when you gently pick up your candidate. Then sniff your best bets—don’t squeeze! That can bruise or even split the skin. The heirloom should smell earthy and slightly sweet.
Why do Heirlooms and Summer’s field tomatoes taste so good?
Let’s face it: for months you haven’t tasted anything remotely like a sun-ripened field tomato. Growers may keep them on the vine, or raise them in a greenhouse. They never approach the flavor of sun-kissed ripe tomato. Think Jersey Beefsteaks! Off-season tomatoes may look flawless in their uniform size and their ability to travel from the ends of the earth in mid-winter. And that’s precisely why they have so little taste. They’re shipped green, ripening on their journey. Heirloom tomatoes have a deep connection to the past. Their seeds are preserved from season to season often for generations. Seeds are harvested from the juiciest, sweetest specimens. They are saved and planted next season. There are literally thousands of varieties in all kinds of shapes and colors. They have no resemblance to those supermarket staples that we bypass all winter. This tomato pie celebrates Heirlooms in all their misshapen variety. Ms. Lomas used wedges in hers, pictured here. Andrew used slices in his. As mentioned, Ms. Lomas allowed store-bought pastry and pesto to be used here. We’ve included recipes for both. And here they are.
Short Crust Pastry
The perfect crust for any savory tart or pie.
- 145 grams all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 stick cold unsalted butter (1/4 pound), cut in 1/8-inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons ice water
- Step 1 Put flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer or food processor. Add butter and quickly cut it into the flour until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.
- Step 2 Add ice water and mix briefly, about 30 seconds, to form a soft dough. Remove dough, shape into a thick disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Bring to cool room temperature before rolling.
- Step 3 To roll, lightly flour dough and counter. Roll out gradually, periodically letting dough rest for a moment before continuing. This makes rolling easier and will keep the dough from shrinking back during baking.
- Step 4 Roll dough to a thin round approximately 13 inches in diameter, then trim to make a 12-inch circle (refrigerate and save trimmings for patching). Lay dough loosely into a 9 1/2-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom, letting it relax a bit. Fold overlap back inside to make a double thickness, then press firmly against the pan so the finished edge is slightly higher than the pan. Refrigerate or freeze for an hour before pre-baking.
Walnut Pignoli Pesto
The genuine article...Genovese pesto that should be in every refrigerator this summer.
- 1/4 cup walnuts
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 3 tablespoons diced garlic (9 cloves)
- 5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups good olive oil
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Step 1 Place the walnuts, pine nuts, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade.
- Step 2 Process for 30 seconds.
- Step 3 Add the basil, salt, and pepper.
- Step 4 With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is pureed.
- Step 5 Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute.
- Step 6 Use immediately or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top.
Heirloom Tomato Tart
The juicy presence of Heirloom Tomatoes is in every bite of this cheese-filled, pesto, and herb-accented custard in a flaky crust.
- Dough for a 9-inch single-crust pie, or use store-bought, rolled into an 11-inch round (see Note)
- 1 ½ lb ripe heirloom tomatoes (about 4 medium)
- ¼ cup store-bought pesto
- ¾ cup shredded mozzarella (about 3 ounces)
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
- 3 large eggs
- ⅓ cup heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Step 1 Heat oven to 350 degrees. Fit the rolled-out dough into a 9-inch tart pan, allowing the edges to rise about 1/4 inch above the rim of the pan. Prick the dough all over with a fork.
- Step 2 Line the dough with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes until beginning to brown at the edges. Remove from the oven and carefully remove the foil and weights. Increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees.
- Step 3 Meanwhile, cut the tomatoes into 1/2-inch slices. Place in a colander to drain excess tomato liquid for 20 minutes.
- Step 4 Spread 1/4 cup pesto in an even layer over the parbaked tart crust. Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella over the pesto. Sprinkle the fresh basil and oregano over the cheese.
- Step 5 In a medium bowl, prepare the custard: Whisk together the eggs, cream, salt, and pepper until combined.
- Step 6 Place the sliced tomatoes evenly over the cheese and herbs in overlapping concentric circles.
- Step 7 Pour the custard evenly over the tomato slices. Swirl the pan to evenly distribute the liquid. Bake until the filling is set and won’t jiggle when shaken, about 35 minutes.
- Step 8 Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before serving warm. This tart can also be served at room temperature.
- Step 9 Note: Packaged pie dough is an excellent shortcut for weeknight meals, and the tart crust can be parbaked a day in advance.