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Torta Di Pomodora

September 6, 2011

tomato tart

This recipe is a very special part of the Freds’ repertoire: it’s our anniversary recipe. Learning how to cook together was such a formative piece of our relationship that when our first anniversary rolled around we decided that cooking ourselves a fantastic meal would be far more meaningful and enjoyable than going out to a fancy dinner. So we set about to find a recipe worthy of a first anniversary. We settled on this tomato tart recipe for a number of reasons… 1. It looked hard, therefore would be a good challenge to prove how much we’d learned in a year; 2. It contained a lot of cheese and nothing says anniversary like cheese; 3. It looked beautiful and presentation felt important for this meal; and 4. It had a fancy name.

cut heirloom tomatoes

Our meal that night was magical (and was made less stressful by doing a trial run of the tart several weeks earlier to make sure it was worthy and we could cook it), and cooking our own anniversary dinner has become a meaningful tradition in our home that we repeat each year.We considered waiting to share this recipe with you for a blog anniversary of some sort, but decided we better give it to you while tomatoes were still in season and you could make it with some fresh, beautiful heirlooms. So without further ado, we present to you our Torta Di Pomodora!..

Torta Di Pomodora (adapted from Cooks Illustrated)

(makes four 6″ tartlettes or one 9″ tart)

Crust Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 tbs sugar

1/2 tsp salt

6 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

3 Tbs ice water

1/2 cup grated parmesan or asiago cheese (about 1 ounce)

Filling and Topping Ingredients:

10-15 small tomatoes (cherry or pear) cored and thinly sliced

2 Tbs plus 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil, divided

2 medium garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup ricotta (can use part skim, don’t use non fat)

1/2 cup grated parmesan or asiago cheese (about 1 ounce)

1/4 cup grated mozzarella (about 1 ounce)

2 Tbs fresh basil, torn into small pieces

salt and pepper

Preparation:

To make your crust: First, pulse the flour, sugar, and salt together in a food processor until combined. Then, drizzle the oil over your flour mixture and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Add 2 tablespoons of ice water and continue to process until some of the dough begins to clump into large pieces and no powdery bits remain. If you still have powdery bits of flour, add the remaining tablespoon water and pulse to incorporate, about 4 pulses. Your dough should resemble grape nuts and should hold together when pinched, but it will not look smooth like a bread or pizza dough.

Divide your dough evenly between your tart pans and press the crumbs into an even layer over the tart pan bottom and up the sides. Lay plastic wrap over the dough and smooth the dough underneath into an even layer. Place the tart pans on a baking sheet and freeze until the dough is firm – about 30 minutes. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees.

While your tart shells are freezing, spread the sliced tomatoes out over several layers of paper towels. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and let drain for at least 30 minutes.

Remove your tarts from the freezer and take off the saran wrap. Lightly coat four pieces of aluminum foil with oil and press them against the dough and over the edges of the tart pan. Then, fill the shells with pie weights and bake until the surface of the dough under the foil no longer looks wet, about 25-30 minutes.

Remove the tarts from the oven and remove the foil and weights. Sprinkle the parmesan evenly over the bottom of the tart shells, then return to the oven and continue to bake until the cheese is golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Set the baking sheet with the tart shells on a wire rack to cool slightly, about 10 minutes. (At this point the cooled shell can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and held at room temperature for up to 1 day.) Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees.

While your tart shells cool, in a small bowl, whisk 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and half the garlic together and set aside. In a separate bowl, mix the ricotta, Parmesan, mozzarella, remaining garlic and remaining olive oil together and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Once your tart shells have cooled enough to touch, spread your cheese mixture evenly over the bottoms. Before using, lightly blot the tops of the tomatoes dry with paper towels, then, layer your tomatoes on top of the cheese and drizzle the reserved garlic and olive oil mixture evenly over the tarts. Bake the tarts until the cheese is bubbling and the tomatoes are slightly wilted, 20 to 25 minutes.

Let the tarts cool slightly on a wire rack for a few minutes before attempting to remove them from their pans. To easily remove your tarts from their pans, place them over a glass that is smaller in diameter than the bottom of the pan, then pull the edge of the pan down off of the tart. Slide your tart off the bottom of the pan and onto a serving plate. Sprinkle with shredded basil before serving.

If freezing extra tarts, make sure that they cool entirely and do not garnish with basil. When cooled to room temperature, place them in freezer bags and place on a baking sheet. Freeze them on the baking sheet so that their crusts don’t crack during freezing. Once the tarts are solidly frozen you may remove them from the baking sheet and stack them if desired. Reheat frozen tarts in a toaster oven and garnish with basil only prior to serving.

tomato tart

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