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Recipe: Tomato And Cheese Tart With Whole Wheat Crust

Spring onion and cheese tart.
Spring onion and cheese tart.

Ah, tomato tarts! Remember, tomatoes are a fruit, so it’s no surprise that they’d be perfectly comfortable nestled in a crisp pastry shell atop a creamy and cheesy filling. After fiddling with all sorts of crust recipes using olive oil, Food Guy Greg Patent found that for flaky and crispy, you just can’t beat butter. Using a combo of unbleached white flour and whole wheat flour gives the crust a pleasant nuttiness that complements the slight acidity of the tomatoes. Greg writes:

You may be wondering if the tomatoes will make the crust soggy. They won’t. Just prebake the crust with some Parmesan cheese. The cheese melts and forms a waterproof coating. And for more insurance, salt the sliced tomatoes lightly and let them stand for 30 minutes. The salt draws out some of the tomato juices, and blotting the tomatoes with paper towels removes them.

The cheese filling, a nice mix of cream cheese, sour cream, egg yolk, pepper, garlic, and Parmesan — it’s a thin layer — acts as a base for the tomatoes. And once the tomatoes are in place, a sprinkle of mozzarella and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil top the tart before it’s popped into the oven.

And that’s all there is to it. Just scatter a few basil leaves on the baked tart, let the tart compose itself for a few minutes, and it’s ready to serve.

Tomato and Cheese Tart with Whole Wheat Crust

You can serve this tart as a main dish for four along with a salad or as an appetizer or snack. Make the tart shell at your convenience. It may be frozen for a day or two and thawed before filling and baking. Use perfectly ripe but slightly firm tomatoes for this tart. Avoid heirloom varieties; they tend to have lots of juice.

Pastry

1/2 cup whole wheat flour (2 1/2 ounces)

1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (2 1/2 ounces)

1/4 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (4 ounces)

4 tablespoons ice water, plus more if needed

1 teaspoon cider vinegar

1/2 cup (2 ounces) lightly packed grated Parmesan cheese

In a medium bowl, whisk together well both flours and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or two knives until the texture resembles coarse meal.

Combine the water with the vinegar. While tossing the pastry crumbs with a fork, drizzle in the liquid, and continue mixing until the pastry just gathers into a mass. If the dough is too dry, add a teaspoon or so more water. Press the dough together and shape it into a 4-inch wide disk. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour.

Roll the dough to a 13-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. The pastry will be thin. Don’t worry about rough edges. Lightly coat a 12-inch pizza pan with cooking spray and place the circle of dough in the pan. There’s enough pastry to cover the pan bottom and sides with a little extra draped over the pan edges. Trim away the excess dough, and the tart shell is ready to go into the freezer.

Freeze the pastry shell for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, adjust an oven rack to the lower middle level and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Coat the frozen pastry shell lightly with cooking spray and line it with a sheet of heavy-duty foil, pressing the foil against the bottom and sides of shell. Add dried beans to the foil to the depth of the pizza pan and place the pan in the oven. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, until the shell begins to color at the edges. Remove the pan from the oven and carefully remove the foil and beans.

Sprinkle the grated Parmesan evenly over the bottom of the shell and return the pastry to the oven. Bake 5 to 10 minutes more until the cheese has melted and the tart shell is golden brown. If bottom of pastry puffs up at any time, reach into the oven with a fork and prick the pastry where necessary. Cool the pastry completely on a wire rack.

Tomato and Cheese Filling

3 or 4 ripe medium tomatoes (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds total)

Salt

3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1/3 cup sour cream

1 large egg yolk

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 garlic clove, finely minced

1/4 cup (1 ounce) lightly packed grated Parmesan cheese

2 ounces (1/2 cup) shredded mozzarella

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Fresh basil leaves

Remove cores from tomatoes. Slice tomatoes 1/4-inch-thick. You’ll wind up with about 15 perfect slices. Arrange the slices in a single layer on several thicknesses of paper towels and sprinkle tomatoes lightly with salt, 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon in all. Let tomatoes stand uncovered 30 minutes (or longer is okay). Gently blot with paper towels to absorb excess moisture. This salting and blotting step is really important or the tart will be watery.

In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Beat in the sour cream, egg yolk, pepper, garlic, and Parmesan. Taste and add salt if needed. Spread the filling evenly over the baked crust making a thin layer.

Arrange tomato slices, slightly overlapping, in concentric rings over the filling to cover filling completely. Sprinkle mozzarella over the tomatoes and drizzle with the olive oil.

Bake the tart for 20 minutes, until filling is very lightly colored at the edges. Scatter a few basil leaves on the tart. Cool 10 minutes, cut into wedges, and serve.

Makes 4 to 8 portions.

(Broadcast: "The Food Guys," 12/2/18. Listen weekly on the radio at 11:50 a.m. Sundays, or via podcast.)

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