Tomato tart


“Mama, it’s like a pizza!” Ernest said brightly when he bit into it.

It was like pizza, but with a pie/tart crust. So, in the end, not really like a pizza at all. But is was round and baked and topped with tomato and cheese, so the comparison certainly makes some sense.

What it was, in fact, was delicious. Much richer than pizza, of course. It was, perhaps, a little extra rich since I used half butter and half lard to make the crust – it’s my new thing and it is awesome, such flaky and flavorful crust I have never known, I swear. Mix 1 1/4 cup flour and 1/2 tsp. salt in a medium or large bowl. Cut in 4 Tbsp. butter and 4 Tbsp. lard until you have a corn meal-looking mixture with some larger chunks in it (a few can even be as large as a pea). You can cut in the fat with a pastry cutter, two knives, a fork, or, as I do, with your cool little fingers as long as you work a bit quickly. Stir in 3 Tbsp. ice cold water to form a dough. Dump dough onto a very well floured surface, knead it a few times to get it to hold together, and pat it into a disk about 6 inches across. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes and up to several days if you like to plan ahead. The dough is very soft and so needs to be well-chilled before you roll it out.

After chilling, return dough to that very well-floured surface to which you have added more flour to return it to its well-floured condition after patting the disk into shape. Roll dough out to desired shape and size – for this tart about 12 inches across. Turn the dough about 90 degrees after each pass of the rolling pin. This ensures that the dough isn’t sticking. If it does start to even seem like it’s thinking about sticking, lift half the dough up and throw a bit of flour underneath. Again, this dough is soft, which means it would very much like to try and stick to things. Don’t worry if it breaks or cracks – just patch it up. It will still taste divine and it will let everyone know you made it yourself.

I owe the entire concept, the very idea for this tomato tart to Sam over at Chews Wise, who, after making a peach galette much like my peach crostada, used the remaining tart dough to make a savory tart of “sauteed leeks, mustard and tomatoes, and basil. You cook the galette crust flat for 10 minutes, then take out, schmear on mustard, put on leeks, tomatoes and basil and put back in oven for another 20 minutes or so. You don’t fold the edge over, just leave it flat, like pizza.” He got the idea from a 2003 New York Times story.

And he was right, it is a perfect dish for my blog. But I didn’t smear anything with mustard, I smeared the partially-baked crust with some of the tomato conserva I made, added sliced tomatoes and a bit of fresh mozzarella, sprinkled the whole thing with salt and called it dinner.

A note on pie crust: See the crust in the picture? See how it is past golden and heading straight into brown territory? That is what properly cooked pie crust looks like. Cooked pie crust, in fact, smells of cooked pie crust. There is a trend afoot of bakeries and restaurants and, I’m sure, home cooks, of not baking pies and tarts all the way. It’s like the half-cooked tender-crisp way with vegetables has spread into the pastry world. While hot-but-crisp asparagus is a fine thing, a pale and half-baked crust is an unfortunate creature unable to stand up to fillings, never meeting its full flaky potential. The phrase “half-baked” is a negative descriptor exists for a reason. Bake that crust!