Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What We Leave Behind: Heirloom Tomato Tart

The wind blew a new front in today, and the air is cooler tonight.  Sitting next to the window overlooking our porch, I'm enjoying the breeze, listening to the katydids and crickets, the gentle tinkling of neighbors' chimes, a faint rustling of leaves.  Our garden is beginning to look more  barren now: we've pulled up the carrots and dried cilantro, the tomato vines are just starting to wither and brown, and the raspberry canes around the edges have produced their last fruit.  The beginning of the end of the harvest makes me think about what we leave to the next generation, and to the next year: as we pull in the summer vegetables, we start to gather and dry seeds from our produce, planning next year's garden before this one is completely empty.  It's interesting to me that this process coincides more or less with the Jewish New Year in the northern hemisphere ... we take stock of what we have, and plan for the future.  Cilantro, grape tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes.

In some ways, too, this season makes me think about what I'm leaving not just to the next garden, but to the next generation.  What will our heirlooms be?  I'm not talking about the jewelry and furniture ... but the things that really matter.  What legacy will we leave?  As I feel the bean stir in my belly, I can't help but hope that my heirlooms will make the world just that much better.

We finally got some heirloom tomatoes in our CSA box this week; I've been looking forward to them all summer.  You can't cook heirloom tomatoes, though.  (Well, I suppose one could, but it feels so wrong to spoil the flavor.)  I found this tart on 101 Cookbooks, and knew that I had to try it ... between the heirlooms and the huge bunch of basil in our box, it was meant to be.

L'shanah tovah to my friends who celebrate Rosh Hashanah, and to all of you, here's to the endings that are also beginnings.

Heirloom Tomato Tart in a Parmesan Crust

6 perfect, colorful, medium-sized heirloom tomatoes - washed and sliced 1/6-inch thick
1 t. fine-grain sea salt
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unsalted organic butter, well chilled + cut into 1/4-inch cubes
4-ounce chunk of good fresh Parmesan, microplane-grated (you should end up with about 2 cups loosel ypacked grated cheese. Save any leftover grated cheese for sprinkling on the crusts when they come out of the oven.
2 T. ice cold water
2T. best quality extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup slivered basil

Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

Prep the tomatoes: To avoid a soggy crust later on, you need to rid the tomatoes of some of their liquid. Clear a space on your counter and put down a double layer of absorbent paper towels. Place the tomatoes in a single layer on the paper towels and sprinkle them with about 1 teaspoon fine-grained sea salt. Top the tomatoes with another layer of paper towels and press gently. Let the tomatoes sit here until you are ready to use them.

Make the tart crust(s): Place both flours, butter, and Parmesan in a food processor and pulse quickly about 25 times. You are looking for a sandy textured blend, punctuated with pea-sized pieces of butter. With a few more pulses, blend in the 2T of ice water. The dough should stick together when your pinch it between two fingers. Pour the dough into the tart pan. Working quickly, press the dough uniformly into the pan by pressing across the bottom and working towards the sides and up to form a rim. Place in the refrigerator and chill for 15 minutes.

Bake the tart crust: Pull the tarts out of the refrigerator and poke each a few times with the tongs of a fork. Cover the tart with a square of aluminum foil and fill generously with pie weights. Place on a baking sheet and slide the tart onto the middle rack in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, pull the shell out of the oven and very gently peel back and remove the tinfoil containing the pie weights. Place the uncovered tart back in the oven, weight free, and allow to cook for another 10 minutes, or until it is a deep golden brown in color. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with a little shredded Parmesan (this will act as another barrier to the tomato liquid). Let cool to room temperature before filling.

Assembling the tart: Just before serving, arrange tomato slices in a concentric pattern inside the tart shell. Drizzle with your best quality extra-virgin olive oil, and sprinkle with the slivered basil. Serve at room temperature.
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  1. Oh yum! I can't *wait* for tomatoes - real tomatoes! This has been such a long, dark winter for me that spring finally coming to my corner of the southern hemiphere is sooooo important. We're still having frosts, but it's time to get heirloom tomatoes seeds going. . .as you're having the last of your harvest.

  2. I tried to make something with heirloom tomatoes this week and couldn't find them! Looks so delicious!

  3. Tomatoes are the ultimate pregnancy fruit.


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