After more than seven years together, I have discovered that Jay has one truly deep-seated flaw: he hates tomatoes. I, on the other hand, think that big, beautifully colorful, late summer tomatoes are just about the best food that all seasons of fruits and veggies have to offer.
Luckily for me and for our relationship, he took a trip to Boston earlier this summer, which finally gave me the opportunity to make this gorgeous full-sized French tomato and goat cheese tart.
Truth be told, I had been lusting after this particularly simple tart ever since David Lebovitz first shared the recipe back in May. But the tomatoes in San Francisco weren’t quite at their peak yet, and I soon found myself buried in outlines and practice exams covering the 17 subjects that are “fair game” on the California bar exam.
Nevertheless, once Jay took off for Boston, I splurged on some particularly red and fragrant tomatoes and knew it was tart time.
But first, I snacked. The tomatoes were too tempting. I was forced to sacrifice one by slicing it up, and holding the thick slice in my hand like a piece of toast, juice running down my palm, forearm, and – chomp! – my chin. These late summer tomatoes were perfection, and didn’t need anything added to make them utterly delectable.
Thank goodness that the fog rolled in right after I finished my pre-tart snack and that I’m a sucker for goat cheese, or this tart might never have happened.
Before anyone runs away in fear of the tart crust, you should know that this tart is incredibly easy to make. The dough comes together in mere minutes, without any fancy kitchen gadgets. And you don’t even need to use a tart pan!
Rolled-out dough can either be set into a tart pan or onto a baking sheet. Then, swipe some Dijon mustard across the dough, layer thick tomato slices, and top with goat cheese and fresh or dried herbs. If you’re using a baking sheet, just fold the outer two inches or so of dough up and over the outer edge of the tomatoes, pinching the corners of the dough together to create a self-contained tart. (I made a free-form tart with some extra dough I had left over, and frankly, I liked the more rustic look of the free-form tart enough to not use my tart pan at all the next time I made this.)
This tart is not only easy to make, and beautiful to present, thanks to arranged layers of tomatoes and goat cheese, but is addictively tasty. The juicy sweetness of the roasted tomatoes is enhanced by the creamy saltiness of the lightly browned goat cheese, and the Dijon mustard adds a delicious touch of zing to the back end of each bite.
I enjoyed this easy-going tart enough to eat it for back-to-back lunches and dinners for two and a half days. No joke.
So take a last trip to your local market, snatch up some late summer tomatoes before they’re replaced by fall’s bounty, and make this tart your personal tribute to the final weeks of the glorious tomato being in its prime.
Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart (from David Lebovitz)
As I mentioned above, you can either use a 9- or 8-inch tart pan or make a freestyle tart. If you’re freestyling it, roll the dough out to about 14 inches lengthwise and 8 inches widthwise before transferring the dough to a baking sheet lined with a silicon baking mat or parchment paper. Leave a 2-inch border when assembling the tomatoes and goat cheese, and then fold the edges up and over the tomatoes to enclose the tart.
1 1/2 c. flour
4 1/2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, chilled, cut into cubes
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. cold water
1/4 c. Dijon or whole-grain mustard
2 or 3 large ripe tomatoes, thickly sliced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 to 3 Tbsp. fresh or dried herbs (I used thyme), chopped
8 oz. goat cheese, sliced into rounds
In a large bowl, mix the flour and 1/2 tsp. salt; add butter. Using your hands or a pastry blender, break the butter up and mix it into the flour until the mixture has a crumbly texture similar to cornmeal. Make a well in the center of the dry mixture.
In a small bowl, whisk the egg with water. Add the beaten egg to the well, and mix until the dough holds together. Gather the dough into a ball, and on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough. Add more flour only as needed to keep the dough from sticking to the counter.
Once the dough is large enough to cover the bottom of the tart pan and go up the sides, transfer it to the tart pan by rolling the dough over the rolling pin and unrolling it over the tart pan. Using your fingertips, dock the bottom of the dough firmly in the pan, pressing in to make indentations. (If making a freestyle tart, simply transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet per the headnote; making indentations with your fingers is not needed.)
Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
Meanwhile, evenly spread the mustard over the bottom of the tart dough, and let sit for a few minutes to dry out.
Arrange tomato slices over the mustard in a single, even layer; you may have 1/3 of each tomato slice overlap the slices on either side of it to fit more slices in. (See pictures for reference.) Drizzle olive oil over top. Sprinkle with chopped herbs, and arrange slices of goat cheese over the top, adding more herbs if desired. (If making a freestyle tart, gather the dough edges when you’re done, and fold upwards and inwards to envelope the filling.
Bake until dough is cooked, tomatoes are tender, and cheese is browned, approximately 30 minutes. If cheese doesn’t brown enough after 30 minutes of baking (mine didn’t), cook it under the broiler for a minute or two.
Serve hot, room temperature, or chilled. Slices of my tart responded well to reheating in the oven for 3 straight days.