You know summer is here when tomatoes taste like tomatoes. And what better way to showcase them than in a savory tomato tart?
If you are not fortunate enough to have your own garden and grow your own tomatoes (I’m not…) try to get them at your local farmers’ market. Don’t waste your money on supermarket tomatoes — They may look beautiful, but most of the time they don’t have much flavor and the texture is often wrong. Trust your local markets, instead. Many farmers will let you sample them before you buy.
There are bushels of recipes for tomato tarts. I have seen and made them with just piecrust, tomatoes and cheese. I have made deep dish tomato pies. But to me, one of the best versions has a bechamel sauce to anchor the tomatoes, which gives a creamy, cheesy flavor without being heavy. No one wants to feel heavy in the summer! My version showcases tomatoes in all of their summer glory.
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Summer Tomato Tart
- 1 recipe for a 9-inch (23 cm) pie dough (also known as pâte brisée (French) or pasta frolla (Italian)), bottom, only. Use your favorite, or try this or this:
- 1 recipe for a thick béchamel (see below)
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Small pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
- 1 large tomato, one medium, and several cherry or grape tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- Kosher or sea salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Optional: Toss in a small handful of some very thinly sliced red onion
- Pre-heat oven to 350 F (180C)
- Make the pie dough. Wrap it in plastic and refrigerate for 60 minutes
- Roll out dough and line a 9-inch spring form pan or removable bottom tart pan with dough with sides 1/4-inch high (1/2 cm). Refrigerate the pan while you prepare the rest of the ingredients
- Make béchamel and let cool; re-whisk before using
- In a small sauce pan, heat milk to a simmer. It’s ready when you see bubbles around the edge of pan. Or microwave, if you prefer, for 2 minutes
- In a small sauce pan, over medium heat, melt the butter. Once fully melted, add the flour and whisk vigorously until the flour is fully incorporated into the butter. Cook for approximately 1 minute
- Add the heated milk and nutmeg to the sauce pan with the butter and flour. whisk constantly until thickened, about 4 minutes. Once it comes to a soft boil, boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and whisk in the Parmesan
Note: This is an extra thick béchamel sauce. As a rule of thumb, a classic béchamel is a ratio of 1 1/2 tablespoons each of flour and butter per cup of milk
- Slice the tomatoes approximately 1/4-inch thick (1/2 cm)
- Evenly spread the cooled béchamel over the dough
- Arrange the sliced tomatoes (and red onion, if using) on top of the béchamel
- Sprinkle the thyme leaves and salt and black pepper over the tomatoes
- Bake for 45 – 50 minutes uncovered. The crust should look golden brown
- Once out of the oven, lightly brush some olive oil over the tomatoes both for taste and looks
- Let cool for at least 20 minutes before serving. Serve warm or room temperature