Cherry tomato tarts with goat cheese and four basil
Pastry dough needs to be in any cook’s repertoire. It’s easy and versatile and can be prepared in advance and left to contemplate in the fridge wrapped in wax paper until called upon to perform. One batch of dough can work for both sweet and savoury tarts although if I know I am using it for sweet tarts I add a little sugar to the mix. Earlier this week I made one batch of pastry dough, divided it into two, wrapped each half individually and today I made four cherry tomato tarts from half the dough.
The tarts are easy to make and you can vary the filling and use what you have in the fridge. If you make a vegetable tart (zucchini, mushrooms etc.) you should cook the vegetables before filling the tart but in the case of tomatoes they do not need to be pre-cooked. I used cherry tomatoes, they are sweet and cute and look nice in this tart
I make the pastry with unsalted butter. I know that some cooks use other shortenings but for my taste you cannot beat the flavour of a butter pastry. I make the pastry in a food processor and it comes out fluffy, crispy and delicious, a perfect base for many fillings. I like making individual size tarts but you can also make a large one that you cut into wedges to serve.
It’s early in the season but I already have four types of basil plants growing and I wish I could tell you exactly what they are. One is the regular green basil, the other is the purple variety, the third I believe may be Greek Column basil and the fourth variety has small leaves and it grows upright but I am not sure what it’s called. For this tart I picked a little bit of each variety and added them to the tomatoes and goat cheese and they enhanced the flavour significantly. If you only have one variety you can still make the recipe, but use it liberally both in the tart and then as a garnish on top.
Yesterday we went to another fabulous Joy Road dinner and I will post cook something from the menu for the next post. Stay tuned.
Savoury tart dough:
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces, very cold (or use vegetables shortening)
4 tablespoons ice water (about)
Place flour and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times to blend. Add cold butter and mix with a few pulses until butter is coated with the flour and the mixture is crumbly. Do not over mix.
Add the water, a tablespoon at a time and run the processor until mixture begins to clump together but does not form a ball quite yet.
Empty the dough onto a board or your clean counter and bring it together with your hands. You can sprinkle the work surface with a light dusting of flour to prevent the buttery dough from sticking. Work fairly quickly because you do not want your warm hands to melt the butter in the pastry. As soon as you have a ball of pastry flatten it to a disk and then wrap in wax paper or plastic and refrigerate until cold, at least 30 minutes or overnight. You can prepare this a few days in advance and keep refrigerated until needed.
When you are ready to proceed remove dough from the fridge and let it warm up on the counter for a while, only until it is pliable enough to roll. You will be working with a cold dough so don’t bring it to room temperature but the butter should be pliable enough to roll smoothly. I usually beat the ball of dough a few times with the roller to soften the butter.
On a lightly floured surface roll the dough into a circle or square about 1/6 inch thick, dusting with flour as needed to prevent it from sticking. To fit the dough into the tart pans you have a couple of options: either cut it into circles large enough to fit into the pans and press them into place individually. Or do it all at once: set the tart pans close together on the counter, roll the dough sheet onto the rolling pin and unroll it over the tart pans. Gently press the dough into the tart shells and then roll the rolling pin over . This will cut the dough into each individual tart pan. Re-roll and repeat for remaining tart pans. When you re-roll the dough don’t just lump the pieces together. Rather, layer the pieces on top of each other and then roll. It’s a cumbersome explanation but simple to execute.
When all the tart pans are nicely lined with the dough refrigerate them until needed. You can prepare this a couple of days in advance and keep them wrapped in the fridge. Make sure they are cold when you fill them.
To fill 4 individual tarts: (using 1/2 the dough)
1 cup goat cheese
1/2 cup cream
A bunch of basil leaves, more than one variety if you have them
2 cups cherry tomatoes, haleved
Combine egg and cream and whisk together.
Remove tart shells from the fridge and place on a baking sheet.
Scatter the cherry tomatoes halves over the pastry
Scatter goat cheese over the tomatoes in each tart.
Sprinkle chopped basil leaves over the cheese.
Pour the egg and cream mixture into the shell and over the tomatoes just so it fills up to the edges, try not to spill it over the edge.
Place in a preheated 400F oven and bake until tarts are puffed and begin to turn golden on top, about 30 minutes or so.
Remove from oven and let cool a little before serving. You can cook these in advance and reheat in 350F oven for a few minutes before serving.
Serve with a small salad on the side.