Caramelized Tomato Tart
This is the point in the summer where I succumb to my garden’s late-August bounty.
My tomatoes, which lost their leaves overnight to the great tomato blight, are staging a last stand of frenzied fruiting. The cherry tomatoes, once tamed by the occasional omelet, are turning out avalanches of tiny red orbs.
Despite the valiant tomato-eating efforts of my husband, a helpful houseguest and a persistent squirrel, the soft plop of the overripe fruit dropping off the vines drove me to desperate measures. Early last Sunday, I flipped on the oven, stripped the plants bare, and set out to make a tart.
At this point, my houseguest rolled over, surveyed me sleepily and groaned, “You’re making a tart? Now?”
She had a point. Not only was I involving the oven amidst a sweltering heat wave, but my relationship with baking is ambivalent at best. Luckily my target tart was a low-fuss affair, invoking little more than a swirl of sugar, a handful of fruit, and a sheet of puff pastry.
The original recipe calls for one large tart, but I split it into two smaller saucepans and also scaled the sugar back slightly. After a half hour in the oven, the tarts emerged golden brown, filling the house with the smell of buttery pastry and roasting tomatoes.
The olives and vinegar lend a savory balance the beautiful candied tomatoes, which emerge as glistening globes when you flip the tarts onto plates. The key is to cover the pan with a similarly-sized plate and flip fluidly; on my first attempt, the tomatoes all slid to the side.
Luckily, the second tart emerged unscathed, and looked impossibly sophisticated given its easy assembly. They’d make an awesome autumn side for a roast leg of lamb, but for a summer morning they served as a lovely Sunday brunch in the garden.
For more great tomato ideas, check out Summer Fest, a blogger’s roundup of tomato-inspired treats. It’s hosted by some of my favorite blogs: matt bites (gorgeous photography), white on rice couple (stunning styling), a way to garden (some serious growing know-how and an amazing garden), and steamy kitchen (consistently interesting recipes). There are also ideas from guest contributors – The Sister Project, Simmer Til Done, and Gluten Free Girl – and there are plenty of posts in their comment sections too.
Caramelized Tomato Tart
Adapted from The New York Times, 2008
14-ounce package all-butter puff pastry, defrosted
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 red onions, halved and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons plus a pinch of sugar
1/2 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1/4 cup chopped pitted Kalamata olives
1 1/2 pints (about 1 pound) cherry or grape tomatoes; a mix of colors is nice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Unfold puff pastry sheet and cut into a 5-inch round (I traced around a plate roughly the same size as my pan). Chill, covered, until ready to use.
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and a pinch of sugar and cook, stirring, until onions are golden and caramelized, 15 to 20 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons water and let cook off, scraping brown bits from bottom of pan. Transfer onions to a bowl.
In a clean, ovenproof skillet, combine 3 tablespoons sugar and 3 tablespoons water. Cook over medium heat, swirling pan gently (do not stir) until sugar melts and turns amber, 5 to 10 minutes. Add vinegar and swirl gently. The caramel should coat the bottom of the pan.
Sprinkle olives over caramel. Scatter tomatoes over olives, then sprinkle onions on. Season with thyme leaves, salt and pepper. Top with puff pastry round, tucking edges into pan. Cut several long vents in top of pastry.
Bake tart until crust is puffed and golden, about 30 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes, then run a knife around pastry to loosen it from pan. Cover with a plate and flip tart out onto a serving platter in one smooth motion.
Cut into wedges and serve immediately.