Well, we have been back for a little more than a week now. It is amazing how quickly you fall back into your old routine; it is almost like our trip didn't even happen. Seeing how little things changed over the six weeks we were gone just makes our trip seem even shorter. Aaron and I are already trying to dream up ways to take another extended vacation sooner rather than later.
As a summer loving foodie, returning home at the start of the fall season has particularly punishing. Sure, I should be excited about the abundance of colorful produce at the market and the ability to grill outdoors without melting from the heat. I am just not finding anything particularly inspiring. Aaron and I often look at our weekend grocery shopping as an adventure - what kinds of surprises will greet us at the store... will we find that impossible to find chili pepper that we have been searching for since last spring... are there any new types of bread in the bakery that I should try to copy? **Sure, I can admit it, we are super geeky about food. Some people find it annoying - others just try to get on the barbecue invite list :).** I'm sorry to say, after all of the exotic things we tried during our travels, even the ripe heirloom tomatoes aren't doing it for me.
Running errands on Friday, I decided I needed to snap out of it and stop whining. After all, one of the things that made our great adventure so precious was that it had to end some time. Moreover, I get about two or three (at the absolute most) more weeks of summer produce and if I don't take advantage I know I will regret it when I am on month two of eating parsnips and celery root with many more to go before warm weather arrives again.
With that I ran to Union Square to explore what seasonal goodies were being hawked at the farmers market. We missed Hoboken's annual heirloom tomato festival, so I settled on a mixed bag of tomatoes at the very reasonable price of $3 a pound.
Aaron's only menu request was that I used at least most of the basil growing in the back yard; we have two flower boxes full that need to be emptied before it starts to get too cold. After some searching, I came across this Epicurious recipe for Heirloom Tomato Tart and thought I would give it a whirl. The recipe seemed a bit suspicious at first (a tart with RAW tomatoes???), but it called for heirloom tomatoes, basil and other ingredients I had on hand.
Surprisingly the uncooked tomatoes, pesto and mozzarella paired nicely with the parmesan crust. I assembled the tart just before eating it, as I worried any sitting would result in a soggy tart. I might have worried too much about sogginess because the leftovers kept beautifully in the fridge over night.
It was a nice meal for our first real meal back at home. Farm fresh produce, western flavors... a last taste of summer... a return to reality.
Heirloom Tomato Tart
For black pepper parmesan pastry
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 to 4 tablespoons ice water
- 3/4 lb fresh mozzarella (not unsalted), very thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup pesto
- 2 lb mixed heirloom tomatoes, sliced 3/4 inch thick
For the tart crust, combine all ingredients except the water in a food processor and pulse until the mixture until it has the texture of a course meal. Add two tablespoons of water and pulse again. The mixture should come together into a dough. If it appears too dry, add additional water, one tablespoon at a time pulsing between each until the dough holds together. Remove the dough from the processor and gather it into a ball. Flatten the ball gently into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Next, role the dough out into a flat disk and press it into the bottom of a 9inch tart pan. Dock the dough by pricking it all over with a fork, and then refrigerate the dough in the pie pan for 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 350F. Remove the pie crust from the refrigerator, cover it with foil and fill the foil with pie weights (or rice or beans). Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and the weights and bake for 15 minutes more. When the edges of the crust begin to turn gold, the crust is finished cooking.
Remove the crust from the oven and allow it to cool. Once the crust has cooled, spread an even layer of pesto along the bottom. Arrange a layer of sliced mozzarella over the pesto so that it covers the crust.
|Spread a layer of pesto on the bottom of the crust and then start layering the cheese on top.|
Next, arrange a layer of tomatoes on top of the mozzarella. Coat the tomatoes in another layer of pesto, followed by more mozzarella and more tomatoes. Serve the tart immediately. If the tart is allowed to sit, it could become soggy from the tomato juice.
|Once the layer of cheese is complete, start the layer of tomatoes.|