Tomato Parmesan and Mozzarella Tart

Ok, so here it is! What I promised you in my last post!! It is a Tomato Parmesan and Mozzarella Tart. It is, like I mentioned before, one of the best things I’ve made to date. I have been scheming of ways to give myself an excuse to make it again! True, I could just make it again considering we almost ate the whole thing in one sitting anyway (and it isn’t exactly health food mind you). It was just so darn good we could barely get ourselves to stop to eat the rest of our supper! But the excuse I’m looking for to make this tart again is company, or a coworker potluck. You see I want to make this for someone else just to see the delight on their face after they take a bite. It would make me so happy. I would give my guest a huge smile that would communicate, “I know, it is gooood” (as Julia Child says in Julie and Julia), and then promptly take a big bite myself and join them in the silent savoring of the tart.

The crust of this tart is flaky (thank you butter) and when you bake it you may just swoon in front of your oven because the smell of the Parmesan cheese melting and baking in that crust is something else. The tart shell is then layered with sautéed garlic, bread crumbs to soak up the tomato juices, more parmesan, sliced tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozzarella and then baked again until the mozzarella is browned and blistered on top. The tart would be delicious served just like this, but I took it one step further and made a balsamic syrup which I drizzled over the top of the tart. I know you wouldn’t think of a tart as “finger-licking-good,” but it was. We truly did lick our fingers too! (We abandoned our silverware after the first bite in favor of the more efficient method of eating with our hands. Hey, when something is this good you might be too impatient to eat with silverware too.) The sweetness of the tomatoes, with the sautéed garlic, herby basil, salty parmesan, mild, melted mozzarella, and the tangy-sweet balsamic syrup all came together and complimented each other so well. We gobbled down as much of that tart as we could, along with the rest of our supper, and when we couldn’t eat anymore without being completely gluttonous, we sat back and admired the remaining tart for awhile, recapitulating just how tasty it really was, discussing why we thought it was so good, and acknowledging how lucky I was to be eating it for my lunch the next day.

And now, without further ado, the recipe:

Tomato Parmesan and Mozzarella Tart
A few notes:
  • Ok, I know what some of you may be thinking, "Make a tart crust?? I am no pastry chef and doesn't that take a lot of work?" but on the contrary, you do not have to be anywhere close to being a pastry chef to make a good tart crust and it takes a maximum of five minutes hands on time to make the dough. An extra bonus is that any extra dough you have left after fitting it in the pan can be rolled up into a ball and frozen to make another tart crust later.

  • While I loved the smell of the parmesan baking in the tart crust, I would say that if you're on a budget it is not necessary. I tasted the parmesan in the filling of the tart much more.

  • If you want, this tart can be a meal all on its own. You don't need any other accompanying food.

Tart Crust
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup finely grated fresh Parmesan
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter diced into cubes
3 to 5 tablespoons ice water
1 large egg white, lightly beaten with 2 teaspoons water

1) In a food processor, or a large bowl, combine the flour, grated parmesan, and salt. If using a food processor blitz a couple of times until crumbly and pea-size pieces form. (If using a bowl, use a fork, pastry blender, or two knives for the traditional "cut in" method until the crumbly pea-size pieces form.)

2) Add a tablespoon of water at a time just until the dough comes together. You do not want to add too much water and you do not want to over mix because then you will loose your little chunks of butter which create the "flakiness" of the tart.

3) Once your dough has come together form it into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for thirty minutes. This step is important so your pastry doesn't shrink/shrink unevenly once in the oven. It also helps with the flaky factor as well.

4) Preheat oven to 450F

5) After 30 minutes roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface, reflouring as needed, always rolling away from yourself and turning the dough as you go. Roll until it is 1/4 of an inch thick, fold dough in half, lift up, place into tart pan, unfold, and press into the pan being careful not to stretch the dough. Trim off the excess dough, prick the dough on the bottom of the tart pan with a fork, cover dough with aluminum foil or parchment paper and place pie weights/dried beans/rice on top.

6) Bake crust for 18-20 minutes until the crust is golden brown. Remove crust from oven and brush with egg white wash while still warm. (This wash will help prevent, a little, the crust from becoming soggy from the tomatoes.) Set aside to cool.

Tomato Parmesan and Mozzarella Tart

2 Tbls olive oil
3 large ripe tomatoes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbls minced garlic
3 Tbls fine, dry bread crumbs (I used Panko)
1/3 grated parmesan
1/4 cup chiffonade (cut ribbons) of fresh basil
6 oz. of fresh mozzarella, sliced into rounds

Heat oven to 350F
Heat olive oil in a small skillet over low heat. Meanwhile, slice the tomatoes and try to get rid of as many tomato juices and seeds along the way as you can to prevent a soggy crust. Season the tomato slices with salt and pepper. Once the oil is heated add the minced garlic and saute slowly for 5-8 minutes until garlic turns a light golden color.

While garlic sautés grate the Parmesan and slice the mozzarella. When garlic is done, spread it over the bottom of the tart followed by the bread crumbs and parmesan sprinkled over top.

Arrange the tomato slices over the tart, sprinkle basil over top, and finally top it all with the sliced mozzarella. Bake for 35-40 minutes until tomatoes are wilted and mozzarella is browned and blistered in spots. Drizzle balsamic syrup over top (if using) with a spoon and serve!!!

Balsamic Syrup

3 Tbls balsamic vineagar
1 Tbls of water
1 Tbls sugar
Pinch of corn starch

Combine all in a small sauce pan and heat over medium to medium high heat so a good simmer is established and the vinegar reduces to half the volume and becomes thick. Take off the heat and set aside until ready to use. Tip! Make sure you have the vent fan on over the stove top because the vinegar has a biting smell!

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