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Caramelized Tomato Tart

August 19, 2009


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.

31 Comments leave one →
  1. August 19, 2009 12:36 pm

    1. I am extremely jealous that everyone’s tomatoes are ready…I am still waiting. Tick tock.

    2. This is stunning and I want to make it as my computer wallpaper.

  2. August 19, 2009 9:36 pm

    This is beyond gorgeous. First of all, you got me extremely excited with that cheese shaver (did you shave cheese on top of that tart?) Secondly, cheese or no cheese, you should submit this recipe to!

  3. August 19, 2009 9:53 pm

    Wow, that looks as delicious as it sounds. What stunning photos, and what an awesome sounding dish. I can’t wait to try it!

  4. August 19, 2009 9:58 pm

    Your tomatoes are so so beautiful! I can’t wait until they are in season here, this will be the first recipe I make. Absolutely gorgeous photographs.

  5. August 20, 2009 12:12 am

    that first photograph is simply amazing. saw it on tastespotting, and i had to check it out! sounds delicious!

  6. August 20, 2009 12:43 am

    Your tart looks great! This sounds delicious with the olives too. I have to work up the courage to try this.

  7. August 20, 2009 1:16 am

    Fantastic! I mean really… I cruise through a lot of blogs and this is indeed special. Well done! GREG

  8. August 20, 2009 1:22 am

    This looks absolutely delightful! I pick hundreds of tomatoes each week, especially of the grape and yellow pear variety. This sounds like a great way to use them up.

  9. August 20, 2009 1:33 am

    Found you on Foodgawker– beautiful pictures. I too battle the squirrels for tomatoes, but manage to bring in quite a few every day. I have some “sweet 100s” that would work really well in this dish.

  10. August 20, 2009 3:15 am

    Oh my, this is just really really ridiculously good-looking. And pretty simple to execute, it seems!

    And heat has never stopped me from cranking up the oven. Nothing comes between me and my grub, no sir.

  11. August 20, 2009 4:57 am

    absolutely gorgeous!

  12. Liz permalink
    August 20, 2009 12:35 pm

    lisaiscooking – It’s really quite easy, even for the baking-impaired like myself.

    Debi – I have to say, the squirrel is winning. He staked his claim during strawberry season, when he picked off the ripest berries one by one (Squirrel:15, Liz: 1). At least the tomatoes are growing more fruit than he can eat…

    sippitysup – thanks!

  13. August 20, 2009 9:19 pm

    Pretty stuff!

  14. August 20, 2009 9:46 pm

    That looks gorgeous with all the different colored tomatoes on the tart. I have to make sure I plant tomatoes for next season (bit too late to start now!) as I keep wanting to do it. I do have slug overload in my garden, so maybe not the best plant. I’m not sure yet.
    In the meantime… love your tart and great photos!

  15. August 21, 2009 12:56 am

    Wow, beautiful creation. Impressive photos too!

  16. August 21, 2009 3:43 am

    Hi Liz!

    I had to do a little re-draw on my blog for the cookbook, and you won! Can you send me an e-mail with your mailing address so I can send it out?

  17. August 21, 2009 3:23 pm

    That is one of the most beautiful looking tarts I have ever seen. Brilliant job!

  18. August 21, 2009 7:10 pm

    That is just gorgeous – I cannot come up with anything original to say that hasn’t already been said! I respect your commitment to saving your tomatoes; we’ve been trying to fight the good fight on our end too. I love that you made them in miniature. So much more elegant.

  19. August 22, 2009 2:39 pm

    I don’t know what’s better — the actual tarts or the images thereof. Very nice! The picture with fork and glass is particularly good. I can imagine being in that moment…

  20. August 23, 2009 5:22 pm

    Incredibly beautiful picture! My mouth is watering!

  21. August 23, 2009 6:00 pm

    Really, really beautiful tart! Looks like it was definitely worth defying a heat-wave for!

  22. August 24, 2009 8:23 pm

    The picture is lovely! such lively colors

  23. August 28, 2009 8:16 pm

    That’s a gorgeous tart. Love the colors and collapsed texture of the skins. Nice photos all around – the essence of summer.

  24. August 31, 2009 3:26 pm

    Looks great. I love all the colors from the tomatoes. When I took my first glance I thought it was a fruitcake for moment. This looks much tastier.

  25. kissmyspatula permalink
    September 5, 2009 12:51 am

    wow – sooo gorgeous. need to have NOW. :)

  26. September 13, 2009 9:48 pm

    Hi Liz,
    I just found you from Jen’s Real Good Taste. You are obviously a great cook, but you are also an artist. The pictures of that tomato tart are unreal! Just gorgeous!

  27. September 23, 2009 6:34 pm

    Beautiful photos and tomatoes are my favorite!!

  28. October 10, 2009 4:26 pm

    outstanding. the gorgeous tomatoes, the lovely glaze of caramelization, the scrumptious puff pastry crust. this is simply exquisite.


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