Roasted Roma Tart
There are three distinct components to this tart. First is the tomatoes, which are slowly roasted into little pillows of tomato velvet with very concentrated tomato flavor. Second is the simple filling, with no ingredients that will upstage those tomatoes. And third is the crust, which is made from flaky, flavorful, old-fashioned lard pastry. (If the lard is a deal breaker for you, see page 397 for another delicious pastry. You should also read the ingredients of most commercial pie crusts.)
The Slow-Roasted Tomatoes are divine. The recipe makes just enough for this tart, so I suggest making extra to allow for the ones you are bound to eat before the tart is assembled, or to have a few left over.
Makes 8 servings
Basic Pastry, baked in a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and cooled to room temperature (pages 396 and 398 or store-bought)
1/2 cup crème fraîche (page 388 or store-bought)
2 tablespoons whole-grain Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, divided
3/4 cup crumbled soft, fresh goat cheese (chèvre)
3 cups Slow-Roasted Tomatoes (recipe below)
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Mix the crème fraîche and mustard and 1 tablespoon of the thyme in a small bowl. Use the back of a small spoon to spread 2 tablespoons of the mixture evenly over the bottom of the tart crust and set the rest aside. Sprinkle the cheese into the crust.
3. Cover the cheese with the tomatoes. Working from the outside of the crust toward the center, arrange the pieces in concentric circles and overlap their edges so that very little of the filling shows.
4. Bake the tart until the tomatoes are just beginning to lightly brown, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of thyme. Cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature with a spoonful of the remaining crème fraîche mixture on the side.
Slow-roasted tomatoes are tomatoes with their flavor volume turned up as high as it will go. A leisurely roast at low temperature cooks out much of the water, leaving petals of sweet, rich, intensely flavored tomato flesh. Romas (also called plum tomatoes, paste tomatoes, or sauce tomatoes) are ideal for roasting because they are meaty with few seeds. Roasted tomatoes keep far longer than dead-ripe fresh tomatoes, letting you enjoy a little taste of summer on a cold, cold night.
Makes about 3 cups
3 pounds ripe Roma or other paste tomatoes
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 250°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Core the tomatoes, cut them in half lengthwise, and use your fingers to scoop out the seeds. (A small tool called a tomato shark is the best way to remove only the core without lopping off the end of the tomato.)
3. Place the tomatoes cut-side up in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with the salt and drizzle with the oil. Roast until the tomatoes have collapsed and their centers are mostly dry, yet still slightly soft and plump, 2 to 4 hours, depending on the size and moisture content of the tomatoes. The pieces should have the texture of a moist prune. Let the tomatoes cool to room temperature on the pan. Gently pull off and discard the skins.
Make-ahead note: The cooled tomatoes can be transferred into a jar and refrigerated for up to 3 days.
For longer refrigerated storage, transfer the cooled tomatoes into a jar that has been sterilized in boiling water or run through the dishwasher on the hottest cycle. The jar should have a sterilized tight-fitting lid. The jar and lid do not have to stay hot, but they must stay sterile.
Submerge the tomatoes in extra-virgin olive oil, close the jar, and refrigerate for 1 hour. Open the jar and run the handle of a small spatula or wooden chopstick around the inside of the jar to release any air bubbles. Top off with more oil, if needed. The tomatoes must remain submerged. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
To store in the freezer, pack the tomatoes into a freezer bag, squeeze out the excess air, close, and freeze for up to 3 months. The flavor will be protected, but the texture declines, and they are best used in cooked recipes.
Sheri Castle is a food writer and cooking instructor based in Chapel Hill, N.C. Visit the author’s website here. Become a fan of her book on Facebook here, or follow the author on Twitter @shericastle.
Recipes from The New Southern Garden Cookbook: Enjoying the Best from Homegrown Gardens, Farmers’ Markets, Roadside Stands, and CSA Farm Boxes by Sheri Castle. Copyright © 2011 by Sheri Castle.