So many tomatoes, so little time…it’s the delicious dilemma of tomato season in the midwest- when everything seems to ripen at once! And we know it’s fleeting so we don’t want to waste One. Single. Tomato.
Am I right?
There’s truly no “dilemma” I enjoy more
…than figuring out what to do with the rainbow of juicy, colorful, bursting-with-flavor tomatoes that begin piling up on my kitchen counter towards the end of summer. This fresh tomato and zucchini garden tart is the perfect way to showcase all they have to offer!
If this tart looks familiar to you, you may have seen (or eaten) Anna’s Tomato Tart, the recipe that Ina Garten shared in her book Cooking For Jeffrey several years ago. That recipe is the inspiration for this tart. I’ve made it several times exactly as she published it (pictured below) and it’s FABULOUS! But over the years I’ve also made a few tweaks -like changing up the cheese and herbs and adding zucchini – that ALSO results in a fabulous tart.
Make either version…or use it as inspiration to create your own twist! Whatever you decide, just make it 🙂
Are Summer Tomatoes Really That Different?
Tomato season is one of my favorite times of the year- I think I look forward to it as much as Christmas- and I’m not exaggerating even a little. Of course we can eat tomatoes year round. But in the summertime? When they ripen on the vine -absorbing the very essence and flavor of sunshine through their delicate, colorful skins- they’re just…different.
Summer tomatoes actually taste like tomatoes.
Eric was telling me how he thought he hated tomatoes as a kid until the first time he tasted a still-warm-from-the-sun just picked tomato. That bite was enough to convert him.
One of my earliest childhood food memories is of my dad smearing soft, white bread with Miracle Whip, sprinkling thick slices of tomato with salt and pepper and sandwiching them between the slathered slices. He handed his simple masterpiece to me with extra napkins. It was juicy and messy and one of the best things my 5 year old self had ever eaten. I was hooked.
Selecting Your Produce
Using really good tomatoes and fresh herbs is key to this recipe. If you have a garden you already know where to find the best tomatoes (lucky you)! If you don’t, I suggest making friends with someone who DOES 🙂
When that’s not an option check out a farmer’s market or look for “heirloom” varieties or those labeled ‘local” in the grocery store.
In the summer I’m always looking for ways to use up zucchini, too. Smaller zucchini are best for this recipe, slice them very thin. You could also use yellow summer squash. The more color the better, I think!
For the herbs I use a mix of parsley (use flat leaf, it has better flavor than curly), basil, mint and thyme. This is definitely a place where you can play with flavors and use what’s available to you! I think dill would be excellent here, too!
Finding Tomatoes When It’s Not Summer
Maybe it’s not tomato season and you’re craving this recipe? When tomatoes AREN’T in season I look for plum (Roma) tomatoes, cocktail tomatoes or tomatoes on the vine. They seem to have the most tomato flavor for off-season tomato eating.
Making The Crust
Using a food processor makes the dough come together quickly. Alternatively, you can use this method to mix by hand. The key to making pastry that’s light and flakey rather than heavy and tough is to make sure your butter and water are VERY cold and not to over-mix. You WANT to see little pockets of butter and you want to handle the dough as little as possible.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- All purpose flour
- cold, cubed butter
- Ice water
- 2 egg yolks
Dough in 3 steps:
Once your dough is combined dump it onto a lightly floured counter (it will look crumbly) and gather it into a disk with your hands. Wrap it up tightly in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill. You can do this the day before, too.
To yolk or not to yolk?
I’ve made this tart many times over the years but this last time (when I took the step by step photos, of course lol) I forgot to add something.
Sometimes when I’m in the kitchen my mind wanders, does that ever happen to you?
Anyway… I didn’t realize what I’d done until the next day. The crust was more “cracker like”- which wasn’t a bad thing- it was just different than normal. So, as I was proofreading my recipe and scanning the ingredients list there it was- two egg yolks. Those egg yolks had never made their way into my dough.
My takeaway? The egg yolks are optional although you may need to add a couple additional Tbsp of water. Your crust will be crisper and more cracker-like without them, and richer and more golden with them. Maybe this is helpful to someone with an egg allergy or if you’re ready to cook and suddenly realize you’re out of eggs.
Par-bake the crust
Preheat your oven and roll out your chilled dough into a rectangle . Place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, place another baking sheet DIRECTLY ON TOP of the dough (this helps the dough bake flat) and bake for 15 minutes.
Remove the top sheet and prick the crust all over with a fork, return to the oven and bake another 10-15 minutes until just lightly golden. It won’t be completely cooked and that’s what you want. It will finish baking after it’s assembled. Let the crust cool.
Preparing The Topping
Now’s the time to gather all of that beautiful produce! I like to make the topping while the crust bakes.
- Slice the tomatoes about 1/4″ thick and the zucchini 1/8″ thick. Place them in a bowl.
- Use a food processor to process the herbs, garlic, salt and pepper until finely chopped.
- With the motor running, pour olive oil through the feed tube in a steady stream until everything is nice and smooth.
- Toss vegetables gently with the herb mixture. I like to use my hands for this so that I don’t tear the tomatoes.
- Let them stand for a while at room temperature so the flavors can develop
Gather the Rest of Your Ingredients
Assembling the tart is easiest if you have all of your ingredients measured out and ready, here’s what you need:
- Prepared tomato/zucchini mixture
- dijon mustard (ok, in all honestly I don’t actually measure this out- I just eyeball it)
- crumbled goat cheese
- shredded gruyere
- shredded parmesan
- Par-baked crust
Assembling Your Fresh Tomato and Zucchini Garden Tart
Your crust is baked, your tomatoes and zucchini prepped and your ingredients are gathered. It’s time to assemble your tart!
- Dot crust with dijon and then spread it evenly over the surface, leaving a 1″ border
- Crumble most of the goat cheese over the dijon, followed by most of the gruyere and all but 2 Tablespoons of the parmesan
- Arrange your tomatoes and zucchini in a slightly overlapping pattern to cover the cheese (you want to keep a small border all the way around)
- You’ll have herb/oil mixture left in the bowl. Don’t let all that flavor go to waste! Strain the solids using a fine mesh strainer and sprinkle them over the vegetables (discard the remaining liquid)
- Finish by sprinkling the reserved cheese over the top
How gorgeous is this?????? SWOOOOOON 🙂
Ready To Bake?
We’re almost to the finish line (can’t you just taste it?????). Place the tart in a preheated oven for about 30 minutes, until the crust is golden, the cheese is melty and the tomatoes and zucchini have roasted into soft, savory summertime deliciousness.
Let it cool slightly and cut into squares. This tart is equally delicious warm or at room temperature 🙂
Perfect Picnic Food
Because this tart is good at room temperature it makes the perfect picnic food!
Last year Hannah and I packed it up for a picnic lunch at the beach with the grandkids (below) and after writing this post I’m thinking maybe we need to squeeze in another beach day before summer slips into fall.
If you make this recipe (and I really hope you do!) I’d love to hear how it turns out and if you change it up at all. Let me know in the comments! Or post your pictures and tag me on fb and Instagram @breathingandcooking
And maybe plan a little end of summer picnic/beach day of your own!
For The Crust
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 12 Tbsp unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup ice water
For The Filling
- 2 pounds assorted, firm tomatoes (I love a variety of sizes and colors)
- 1 smallish zucchini
- 1/2 cup lightly packed flat leaf (Italian) parsley)
- 1 cup lightly packed rough chopped fresh basil
- 2 sprigs fresh mint
- 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
- 2 large garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup good quality olive oil
- kosher salt and cracked pepper
- 6 Tbsp dijon mustard
- 5 ounces grated gruyere
- 4 oz creamy goat cheese
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan plus 2 Tablespoons for sprinkling over top
Make The Dough
- Put flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor, add cubed, chilled butter and pulse machine off and on just until butter is the size of small peas (10-15 pulses)
- Add yolks and pulse a couple of times to combine
- Pour ice water through the feed tube while keeping the machine running and once the water has been added pulse the machine off and on just until dough begins clumping together. Don't over process (until dough all comes together in a ball) or it will be tough.
- remove dough to a floured counter top and bring it together with your hands, shaping into a flat rectangular shaped disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
Make The Filling
- While the dough chills, preheat your oven to 400°f and prepare the vegetables. Core and slice tomatoes 1/4" thick. Leave small cherry tomatoes whole or cut in half. Slice zucchini 1/8" thick. Place all of the veggies in a large bowl and set aside.
- Wipe out the bowl of your food processor. Put herbs, garlic, salt and pepper in the clean food processor bowl and process, stopping once or twice to scrape down sides, until everything is finely chopped. With motor running, pour olive oil slowly through the feed tube until combined. Pour this herb mixture over the vegetables in the bowl and stir gently to combine. Set aside.
- Make sure your oven is preheated to 400°f and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. On a floured counter roll the pastry out to a rectangle approximately 11x17" (it doesn't have to be perfect, "rustic" is nice here). Transfer your rolled pastry to the prepared sheet pan. Place another sheet pan DIRECTLY on top of the dough and bake for 15 minutes. *(see notes for alternate directions if you don't have a second sheet pan)*
- After 15 minutes, remove both pans from the oven and remove the top pan. Poke the dough all over with a fork. Return to oven and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until lightly golden. Peek inside a couple of times to see if any areas are bubbling up and if they are, poke them with the fork. Allow to cool 15 minutes before proceeding.
Assemble and Bake
- After crust has cooled lower oven temperature to 375°f
- Spread mustard evenly over crust. Dot with 1/2 of the goat cheese and sprinkle the parmesan and all but 1/4 cup of the gruyere (you'll reserve this for the end)
- Arrange vegetables over the cheese in an even layer. Strain the liquid from the herb mixture that's left in the bowl and sprinkle the solids over top of the vegetables. Top with remaining goat cheese and gruyere and sprinkle with 2 Tablespoons of parmesan.
- Bake in a 375°f oven for 30 minutes. Let cool slightly before cutting into squares.
This is excellent warm or room temperature and is great for making ahead
- If you don't have a second sheet pan, here's an alternative: Lay foil over top of the uncooked pastry, using enough so that it goes well over the edges of the dough. use your hands to curve the edges up so that they form a rim all the way around. Fill the foil with pie weights or dried beans to cover the surface of the pastry and proceed with the recipe. Make sure to remove it for the second half of baking!
- Pricking the Crust with a fork prevents the dough from bubbling up while it bakes. You want the pastry to be nice and flat.
- You may have vegetables left over. Only use enough vegetables to evenly cover the surface of the tart. It's tempting to use them all if you have extra but it will result in a soggy tart that's difficult to eat. Cover and chill any extra veggies and use them in a salad or throw them in an omelette in the morning.