Southern Snacks Cookbook

The Southern Sympathy Cookbook

I'm P.C., and I have studied food and cooking around the world, mostly by eating, but also through serious study. Coursework at Le Cordon Bleu London and intensive courses in Morocco, Thailand and France have broadened my culinary skill and palate. But my kitchen of choice is at home, cooking like most people, experimenting with unique but practical ideas.

I live, mostly in my kitchen, in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Caprese Tart

A few years ago, in the hot, hot summer, we had a big storm that knocked out power for over two weeks.  They say it was a wind storm, but we all called it Hurricane Elvis.  As it was summer, many people were away on vacation, had vacations planned, or just left town during the power outage.  But I was a busy little event planner and had a wedding and a private event to plan and execute, so no leaving town for me.  I lived in my hot, hot house with no lights and no air conditioning for the duration.  My parents had two giant trees fall on their house, then breezily left for a planned trip overseas with the parting words “we expect the trees to be gone when we get back.”  So despite the catastrophe, I was a busy little bee.

As it happened, this was the first year I had planted a garden in my newly constructed raised beds.  I had carefully tended my tomato plants, and wouldn’t you know they all produced a bumper crop of gorgeous red tomatoes right during the storm. Now, I can only eat so many raw sliced tomatoes and I had way more than I could ever finish.  Everyone I knew had left town, so there was no one to share them with.  Under other circumstances, I would have made vats and vats of sauce and soup and frozen my bounty for the long winter.  My gas stove worked, but of course I had no refrigeration and it was just too darn hot to slave over the burners.  So the tomatoes wilted on the vine.  After that, I decided planting tomatoes just wasn’t worth it.

But this year, I have re-entered the wannabe gardener world.  My lettuce is magnificent, my radishes a triumph, and I am awaiting the zucchini.  And I have planted tomatoes.  I watch them carefully – one variety plant has already got some little green babies on it, the other plants are flowering.  So barring any natural disasters, I hope to have another grand crop.  But it is not here yet.  So in the meantime, I am using the ripe, red cherry variety for my tomato fix.  I find they are pretty tasty throughout the year, and pretty darn cute too.

Caprese Tart

I use a rectangular tart tin, but a round tin will work just as well. It may take more or less tomatoes.

1 sheet puff pastry, room temperature

45 round cherry tomatoes

1 ball fresh mozzarella cheese

2 bunches (about 1 ounce each) fresh basil

2 Tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese

2 Tablespoons pine nuts

1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese

1 egg

Salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil for drizzling

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Wash the tomatoes and pat them dry.  Using a small, sharp paring knife, gently cut out the core of each tomato, scraping the inside lightly to remove seeds.  I find a sturdy ¼ teaspoon measuring spoon helps with this job.  Be carefully not to cut through the flesh or squash the tomato.  You want to create a little cavity for the mozzarella to fit in.  Place each tomato cut side down on a few layers of paper towels to drain for 20 – 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry to fit into a removable bottom 10 inch round or an 11 by 7 inch rectangular tin. Gently fit the pastry into the tin, using a small ball of pastry to press the dough into the corners and sides. Poke all over with the tines of fork

In a food processor (I like the mini one for this), pulse one bunch of basil leaves a few times until roughly chopped.  Add the parmesan and pine nuts and pulse a few more times to chop the nuts.  Add the ricotta and egg, a grind of pepper and a pinch of salt and process to a smooth paste, scraping down the sides of the bowl at least once.  Using a small offset spatula (or the back of a big spoon), spread the filling in an even layer over the bottom of the pastry.  Set aside.

Cut the mozzarella into small cubes to fit in the tomato cavities.  Lightly press on cube of mozzarella into each tomato. If some seeds or juice squish out of the tomatoes, carefully wipe it away.  Place the filled tomatoes in rows in the prepared tart, pressing lightly into the filling. Sprinkle pepper and salt lightly over the tomatoes.

Very gently brush the top of the tart with extra virgin olive oil and place in the oven.  While the tart is baking, cut about 6 of the remaining basil leaves into a chiffonade (Stack the leaves up, roll them like a cigar, then cut very thin ribbons with a sharp knife or scissors).  When the tart has been in the oven 15 minutes, remove it and sprinkle the basil over the top.  Return to the oven and cook a further 15 – 20 minutes until the tomatoes are shriveled and the mozzarella is melted.

Leave to cool for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.  Sprinkle additional basil chiffonade on top if desired.

Serves 6 – 8


9 comments to Caprese Tart

  • How long will this recipe last. i.e. to prepare for hors d. at a party? Thank you.

  • I have developed a wildly unnatural addiction with caprese salads, particularly using grape or cherry tomatoes. Obviously I also feel strongly about puff pastry, so this is a must-try! thanks!

  • This looks amazing! I have been meaning to try some kind of tomato tart, but never thought of stuffing them. I too get a thousand tomatoes in the summer that we love and can and eventually run out of things to make. I cannot wait to try this. Thanks for the great recipe! I’m in Indiana, not to far from you! 🙂

  • It is pretty darn cute. Looks darn delicous too!

  • The Runaway Spoon

    Dorothy – You can make a the tart a few hours ahead and keep it in the fridge until ready to bake. After that, it’s best eaten while still warm or coming to room temperature. These mozzarella starts to harden up otherwise. Enjoy!

  • What a beautiful tart. I love caprese salads, and can’t wait till summer to eat them. This looks like a perfect thing to tide me over till then! Thanks.

  • This is one gorgeous tart!

  • Making this today! Will post on my blog tomorrow. I’m going to use a 9″ spring form pan with a glass bottom to it. I’ll let you know how it turns out!

  • This was delicious! I wonder if the crust will be crunchier if I bake it a bit before putting everything else onto the pastry. Thanks for a great recipe. My kids had two servings!!

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