We’re in that ‘between’ season which is the end-of-semester-regular-school-year and the start of summer-session teaching for The Professor; I think it may be one of my favorite weeks of the year because Spring has definitely arrived, the gardens are finally awake for another season and the morning light is bright and quite lovely. We sleep a little longer in the mornings and stay up a little longer in the evenings – a nice change of pace from the usual 5am wake-up calls which happen from September to May the rest of the year.
This time of year also means we are outside, digging in the dirt, planting our vegetable garden – which generally relies heavily on herbs, a few root vegetables and plenty of tomatoes. A few years ago, it was a race between me and a persistent groundhog as to see who could get to the tomatoes first; for the record, he won most of those races – even after I moved some of my tomato pots to our upper deck. But he was not deterred and there was many a morning I’d find piles of half-eaten tomatoes splayed over the planks, taunting me to try and catch him – which I never did. He must have moved on to better territory as he wasn’t around last year – knock on wood.
We try to eat seasonally but occasionally, I’ll see a recipe that has my mouth-watering, ala Pavlov’s dog – this Heirloom Tomato Tart from Greg Henry’s book, Savory Pies is one of those recipes. It’s about three months too early for local, seasonal heirloom tomatoes here in the Midewest but I spied some of my favorites at the grocery – baked into a buttery gluten-free crust, add a simply dressed salad of greens add and your favorite glass of crisp, white wine, voila – dinner; simply dressed greens, toast and coffee? Breakfast or brunch; with perfectly brewed iced tea and you have lunch.
If you’re into all things pie (and I am), you’ll be in pie heaven with Greg’s book; fresh spins on standard favorites like Mushroom Tarte Tatin, Bite-Size Beef Wellingtons, Corn Pudding Pies with Chilies and Chicken, Artichoke Clafouti, Chickpea Samosas with Spicy Mint Sauce and Apple-Bacon-Onion Southern-Style Fried Pies can make a girl weak in the knees. All are equally accepteable for family gatherings, dinner parties or intimate dinners for two; the ingredients are easily procured with easy-to-follow directions and many of the recipes include wine pairings.
Greg is a personal friend and one of my most favorite people in the world; he’s a force of nature in the kitchen, a gifted portrait photographer to Hollywood movie stars, witty, genuine, and at times, a self-described curmudgeon – but he still makes me laugh. And if you haven’t listened to The Table Set podcast, you’re missing out; teamed with fellow entertaining extrordinaires Andy and Nathan, these three guys know a thing or two about throwing a party.
One last note – the color of the beauty isn’t off; blending the cheese with the tomatoes gives this stunner a lovely orange-ish hue so don’t be alarmed – I promise every bite will taste like summer!
Disclosure: I was sent a copy of Savory Pies free of charge; however, all reviews and opinions are strictly my own.
GLUTEN-FREE HEIRLOOM TOMATO TART
Adapted from Savory Pies, Greg Henry
- 1 recipe for Gluten-Free Pie Crust (recipe follows)
- 1 cup crushed tomato puree
- 5 ounces grated cheese mixture: I used Pecorino-Romano, Parmigiano-Reggiano and Fontina
- 3 large eggs, slightly beaten
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon Sriracha
- Assorted small heirloom tomatoes
- Fresh thyme for garnish
- Fresh chives for garnish (chive blossoms are a pretty touch)
FOR THE CRUST:
- 12 Tbsp unsalted butter, frozen
- 268 grams Gluten-free AP flour mix, cold (freeze for at least 30 minutes)
- 1 teaspoon psyllium husk (OMIT if your flour mix has xanthan gum already added)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ cup mascarpone cheese, cold
- 5 Tablespoon ice water
METHOD FOR THE CRUST:
Note: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – it is imperative to the success of your crust that all your ingredients are cold; I keep a tub of AP flour AND butter in my freezer so I can make either pie crust or biscuits whenever I fancy. I use the large grater disc on my food processor and grate the butter – as frozen butter is difficult (if not impossible) to cube. You can place all the dry ingredients in a zippered bag or a bowl and place it in the freezer for 30-minutes to an hour before putting your dough together; additionally, you can cube cold butter, then place the cubes into the freezer for the same amount of time.
- Place chilled dry ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and pulse 3-4 times to blend flours together
- Add both butter and mascarpone cheese; pulse until mixture looks like small peas – about 8-10 pulses, give or take
- Add water and pulse again until the mixture is more sand-like and it just begins to cling to the side of the work bowl
- Dump the mixture onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 2 pieces, pressing/squishing the dough together until it forms a ball
- Wrap each piece of dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight; this allows the flours plenty of time to hydrate and makes it easier to handle (you’re only going to use 1 crust for this particular recipe; the other will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 days or in the freezer, wrapped tightly, for up to 3 months)
- About 15 minutes before rolling, remove from refrigerator to let it soften a bit; preheat oven to 400 degrees
- Place disk between 2 pieces of parchment and roll – size of dough should be approximately 2-inches larger than the dish/pan you are using
- Remove top piece of parchment and carefully, turn the bottom parchment over so that the crust is now able to be placed into tart pan
- Gently peel parchment from the crust and nestle the crust into your tart pan; no worries if it tears or is a bit thin near the edges – you’ll use any trimmings to fill in where needed and once the tart is filled and baked, no one is the wiser!
- Generously prick the bottom of the tart with a fork; place in the freezer for 20 minutes
- Remove tart shell from the freezer and place on a baking sheet; line the tart with a sheet of foil or parchment, fill with pie weights, rice or beans and bake for 20-25 minutes or until just beginning to brown
- Carefully, remove the liner and weights, leaving the tart on a rimmed baking sheet; cool
FOR THE TART:
- Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees
- Place crushed tomatoes, eggs, cheese, sriracha, salt and black pepper in a blender and blend until frothy
- Pour tomato mixture into cooled crust; slice a few of the heirloom tomatoes in half and place cut-side facing up across the tart
- Sprinkle with herbs and bake for 45 minutes, rotating halfway through the baking time
- The tart is done when a knife inserted in the center comes out clean
- Cool completely and serve with more fresh heirloom tomatoes