Tomato season is officially upon us! That also means the start of season for BLTs, the classic Caprese salad, even that surprisingly good TikTok cherry tomato & feta pasta my wife is obsessed with, and an unending list of tomato-centric dishes that shine come summer when every roadside stand is inundated with tomatoes in every shape, color and size. I am, admittedly, a bit fanatical about tomatoes. For two months every year in the summer, nearly every meal involves a perfectly ripe, locally grown tomato. The great thing about tomatoes is that when they are lovingly grown in-season close to where you live, possibly in your back yard, there are very few things better. They are the perfect snapshot of summer. I eat them with such fervor that when their season comes to end when the weather is starting to cool down, I am fully ready to not see or eat another tomato for another 10 months!
This Tomato Tart is just the kind of comforting and delicious recipe you will find yourself craving once those first beautiful tomatoes finally arrive. It can be as easy or involved as you like. Store-bought pie dough is perfectly acceptable, but if you want to take a stab at making your own dough, this recipe couldn’t be any easier. The addition of whole wheat flour adds another layer of complexity to the tart.
For my filling, I chose a locally made fromage blanc and harissa I had fermented from last year’s hot peppers. Again, this recipe is flexible. Cream cheese is an acceptable substitute, and a jar of high-quality, store-bought harissa will taste great. You could also swap out the fromage and harissa for ricotta and basil pesto. Get creative and have fun with it.
Served room temperature and paired with a quick little salad, this tart makes a perfect summer dinner that celebrates the mighty tomato.
Whole Wheat Pie Dough:
4 ounces (110 grams) All-purpose flour
4 ounces (115 g) Whole wheat flour
1 Tablespoon (15 g) Sugar
1 teaspoon (4 g) Kosher salt
6 ounces (170 g) Butter, COLD
5 ounces (140 g) Cold water
½ cup Cream cheese (or ricotta), softened
2 Tablespoons Harissa paste (or basil pesto)
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
½ cup Hard cheese (like parmesan), grated
3-4 Heirloom tomatoes, mixed varieties
1 Tablespoon Extra virgin olive oil
Flakey sea salt
Fresh black pepper
- Make your dough at least 2 hours before you plan on baking your tart. In order to bake a super flakey crust, you will want your dough to be as cold as possible before you roll it out.
- To make the dough, combine both flours, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Cut your cold butter into ½” squares and mix into the dry ingredients. Work the butter into the flour by smashing the butter between your fingers to form flat discs.
- Mix in the cold water and knead the dough against the sides of the bowl until it forms a rough, shaggy ball. You want to be careful to not overwork the dough which will lead to a crumbly product. You should still see hunks of butter in the dough.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to sufficiently chill.
- Make the filling. Stir softened cream cheese and harissa together. Season with kosher salt.
- Core and slice tomatoes. Place on a plate in a single layer. Season all slices with sea salt and cracked black pepper.
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
- Remove pie dough from the fridge. On a generously floured work surface, use a rolling pin to roll the dough to your desired shape and size. I rolled mine to about 14 inches wide and an 1/8”. Add more flour if dough is sticking.
- Spread harissa filling in the center, leaving a 1 ½” border. Top with grated cheese and then arrange tomato slices on top in concentric circles. Drizzle with olive oil.
- Fold dough up and around the tomatoes to form a rip. Give each section of crust a little pinch when you fold to ensure that you have no gaps have formed.
- Place finished tart on a cookie tray lined with parchment paper. If dough feels warm, place in fridge to rechill.
- Once cold, bake in oven for about 50 to 60 minutes and nicely browed all over and tomatoes are bubbly.
- Remove from oven and let tart chill for at least an hour before slicing.
Michael Joyce is a chef in the Lehigh Valley and and local food advocate. Spending his career in kitchens devoted to seasonality and sustainability such as Blue Hill, Barbuzzo, and is currently at Bolete Restaurant. He believes that cooking through the seasons and as close to the source as possible, is not only satisfying and inspiring, but critical to the health of our local communities.