Savory Caprese Tart

posted in: Cooking, Savory | 17

The Power of a Savory Tart in Seattle’s Waning Summer.

It happens every year about this time- tomatoes start growing out my ears! Don’t pretend you don’t know what I mean- between my own garden, friends with P-Patches, and well-meaning farmer’s market vendors who slash the prices on their Aunt Rubies down to a mere $1.99 a pound, I’ve suddenly got more tomatoes than I could ever dream about on a cold, January day. Aaah, the spoils of late August and how to appreciate their divine magnificence… If you’re like me, the first thing you do is start slicing tender Beefsteaks into lush rounds, raid the basil plant out in the planter box, and complete the effect with sleek discs of mozzarella (made daily by the lovely folks down at DeLaurenti in Pike Place Market).Only about half the plate survives to the point of drizzling on some aged balsamic- the rest is already a happy memory.

   

Yes, there is nothing like a fresh Caprese salad in late summer, only at this point I’ve probably made 15 in the last few weeks alone- varied in such clever ways as served on spears with cherry tomatoes and ciliegine mozzarellas, diced heaping into salad bowls made with ovoline mozzarella and Green Zebra tomatoes, even sweetened to the point of oblivion with syrupy reduced balsamic softening the tartness of an Aunt Gertie’s Gold.  Last week I tried to put my foot down- go on a proverbial tomato strike- and what happened?

 

You guessed it- tomatoes started growing out my ears! In a moment of clarity a few nights ago (achieved by the consumption of a lovely bottle of Barbera D’ Alba Superiore, of course) I hit upon a new solution to the rapidly snowballing tomatogate of 2009: Bake the Caprese.  You heard me correctly, and we’re not talking 500 degree pizza-oven style Margherita’s here either, no, I wanted a bit of depth to my creation, and what better way to gain an inch than to whip it all up in a 10 inch tart? I set about to tinkering with the perfect savoury tart crust- a quest I’ve been up to for a while now, and am still not entirely satisfied, however for a couple of good, albeit different renditions, you can look at an innovative David Lebovitz recommendation (but omit the sugar) or a classic Pate Brisee.
  
Because I wanted a delicate looking tart to match my delicate mental state after several near-overdoses on garden vegetables this summer, I chose to use yellow and red cherry tomatoes, but you could surely slice up just about any tomatoes you saw fit, provided that they don’t have an overabundance of water and seeds, which could make your tart soggy and bitter. 
 
I will also stress that the quality of mozzarella you use is infinitely important, as well as the consistency.  While we are not in Italy and can’t quite boast the abundance they so casually take for granted in the mozzarella department, we do have some nice options in Seattle, as I’m sure you do in your neck of the woods.  I like to go to my favorite shop/deli/cheese counter that specializes in imported Italian products called DeLaurenti, where they make fresh mozzarella daily, and each ball is about the size of a man’s fist weighing in at a heavy half pound.

 

Savory Caprese Tart

Serves 4-6 with a garden greens salad to accompany

Note: Be sure to use a tart pan that allows you to slip off the outer ring when you are finished baking the tart.

  • 1/3 cup cottage cheese (4%milkfat)
  • 1 large organic egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 cloves garlic roughly chopped and sautéed for 30 seconds
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 6 basil leaves
  • Murray River Pink salt (or your favorite Artisan salt) and pepper to taste
  • 1 heavy half-pound ball of fresh mozzarella (you could use Mozzarella di Bufala) firmly pressed of excess water
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes (preferably multicolored)
  •  

    Additional basil for garnish
    1 prebaked 10” savory tart shell-cooled (while you are baking and cooling the tart shell you can assemble the ingredients)
    1. When you pull your tart shell from the oven, set oven temperature to 350° with convection on.
    2. In a blender, combine the cottage cheese, egg, egg yolk, garlic, cream, basil leaves, salt and pepper.  Pulse for 10 seconds to mix, and reserve for a final pulse prior to tart assembly.   
    3. Slice mozzarella into rounds as thin as you can make them while still retaining a nice form. Press the rounds between two paper towels to remove excess water. 
    4. Slice each cherry tomato in half around the equator (not pole-to-pole). (This will expose the right part of the tomato flesh for baking, allowing more of the tomato to ooze out into the tart for better flavour). 
    5. Lay the mozzarella rounds in the bottom of the pre-baked tart shell in a concentric circle until you have covered the entire tart.  Place your halved cherry tomatoes, flesh-side upward, in a pleasing pattern atop the mozzarella. 
    6. Pulse the filling mixture in the blender for a few more seconds to fully combine, then carefully pour over the tomatoes and mozzarella, using just the right amount so that you don’t bury the tomatoes entirely (you want to be able to see some tomato pattern peeking through once the tart is baked). 
    7. Carefully place the tart pan on a baking sheet and put a crust protector (or aluminum foil) around the crust to ensure it does not burn.  Slide tart into the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, possibly turning halfway if you notice the filling is cooking unevenly.  Tart is done when filling is firm and slightly golden. 
    8. Remove tart from oven and cool on a wire rack for 20-25 minutes, or until pan is cool enough to remove outer ring.  Just before serving, remove outer ring, sprinkle tart with some chiffonaded basil et voila!    
     
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    17 Responses

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    2. Needless to say, even at the expense of the repartition of all.

    3. As there are huge amounts of posts on the web, I considered yours intriguing and decently watched. That might flavor things up.

    4. looks so good makes me wanna eat any kind of food . reminds me of my childhood my grand ma used to serve that to us now it is long gone I miss those days

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    5. Delicious looking tart!

    6. There is nothing better than home grown tomatoes. Your tart look fantastic!

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    8. This looks like, as pinchmysalt says, I should make it! Lots of tomoatoes in Provence and only 1€ a kilo! I also lake to bake them with olive oil, garlic and thyme in the oven, this makes a deep sauce or a base for a soup. Something happens to tomatoes when they’re baked, I think it might be a caramelisation of the sugars which gives it a lovely deep taste.

      Linda Reply:

      @Angela, 11 months out of the year I prefer them baked. In August though, nothing like a sweet, fully-ripe raw tomato…

    9. I have lots to learn from you, so I figured it would best to start at the beginning. I’m going to make this when I get back to my kitchen.

    10. Vida- so glad you are enjoying the posts- come back and visit soon- some very interesting things in the works!@VIDA GUERRA TAPE

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    12. Sharon Crosetto

      What a perfect pair…Linda and fine cusine! Great blog

    13. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. :) Cheers! Sandra. R.

      Linda Reply:

      Thank you so much, Sandra, I really appreciate it! I am in the process of getting quite a bit of new content to the site, so check back soon for more fun stuff.

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