When you have been writing recipes for as long as I have (12 plus years of blogging, 3 cookbooks, countless freelance projects), the search for something new and innovative, different, a twist or a “hack” gets difficult. And in that constant search for a spin, sometimes I overlook recipes that are really simple – so simple they aren’t really even recipes. But man, are sometimes simple is spectacular, and just what’s needed. So here is an incredibly simple recipe for a tomato tart that will make use of all the fabulous tomato bounty with very little effort. I first had this in France, when the chef running a cooking school vacation I was on served this for lunch on a day we were doing bread or pastry or something that took time. He explained that it was a pretty standard dish from Lyon, and I have no reason to doubt that though I honestly haven’t done my research. When I want to make something slightly different than a Southern tomato pie or just sliced and salted, I turn to this.
I generally have everything I need for this on hand. I keep pie crust in the freezer (homemade and store-bought), I always have a variety of mustards and herbs de provence (I get mine from Penzey’s) is great to have in the spice cabinet to add some French flair to weeknight dishes. I find bags of shredded gruyere and swiss cheese blend (sometimes called Alpine blend) at the grocery, but a block of good gruyere is handy to have on hand. Swiss, comte, tomme cheeses keep this in the French vein, but parmesan or monterrey jack will work as well. And I have absolutely no problem using a store-bought ready rolled pie crust for this – in fact, I recommend it so this is the simple, no fuss summer dish it really should be. The combination of Dijon and stone ground mustard adds a nice punch, but all of one is perfectly fine. If you don’t have herbs de Provence, a mixture of dried oregano, basil, tarragon and lavender if you have will work, even just the dried oregano. Salt and drain the tomatoes first so the crust doesn’t get too soggy. Serve this as a light lunch, part of a larger meal or a simple starter.
Simple French Style Tomato Tart
3 – 4 fresh slicing tomatoes
Pastry for one 9-inch pie
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
¾ cup shredded gruyere, Swiss, comte, parmesan cheese or Monterrey jack
2 Tablespoons stone ground mustard
2 Tablespoons herbs de provence
Salt and pepper to taste
- Cut the tomatoes into slice about ¼ inch thick and lay them out in one layer on paper towels. Generously salt the tomatoes and leave them for at least 15 minutes. Turn them over and let them drain a bit longer. Grind over a little pepper before assembling the tart.
- While the tomatoes are draining, heat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9-inch removable bottom tart pan with cooking spray, then fit the pastry into the pan, pressing evenly into the sides and bottom. Prick the crust all over with a fork, then line it with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans and bake for 15 minutes. Leave to cool to room temperature. Remove the parchment and weights.
- Mix the two mustards together in a small bowl, then using and offset spatula or the back of a spoon, spread it over the bottom of the pie crust to evenly cover the surface. Sprinkle over ½ cup of the cheese. Begin by layering some the tomato slices in a concentric circle over the cheese, then sprinkle over half of the herbes de provence and ¼ of the cheese. Add another concentric layer of tomatoes, then sprinkle with the remaining cheese and herbes. Bake the tart for 25- 30 minutes, until the tomatoes are beginning to curl and the cheese is melted. Let sit for at least 15 minutes, then serve hot, warm or at room temperature.