This new mountain region I live in is beautiful in the summer. The temperature is perfect. It’s probably a good thing we didn’t move in the middle of winter, or I might be telling a different story. I keep hearing rumors about the snow… “You DO know it snows a lot here, right?” (said the neighbor). “I once saw 10 foot drifts in this neighborhood and no one could drive anywhere,” said our gardener. Another neighbor added that we should be investing in a snow blower now while the pickings are many. “And don’t skimp,” he said. “You’re gonna need a good one.” These people don’t frighten me. I’m excited about the snow we’re going to get. But for now, I’m still celebrating summer! Here’s the latest recipe I created with some gorgeous cherry tomatoes I grabbed at the Farmer’s Market: Rustic Tomato and Zucchini Tart
Aren’t these tomatoes just so sweet and bright and wonderful? I’m the kind of person who would happily sit down and eat one right after the other without any adornment.
The tart I made is as good as it is pretty. And it’s really very simple to make.
The first order of business is to saute some leeks- just to soften them up. Then set them aside to cool while you make the crust.
My flour of choice- always has been- is Gold Medal Flour. It performs well in my baked goods, so I stick with it. Mix the flour in a medium bowl with cornmeal (for a little crunch!), sugar, and salt.
Cut in the butter with a pastry blender (or toss this into the food processor and let the processor do the work). Stir in buttermilk until your dough is able to be shaped into a ball…
Roll out the dough on a parchment lined baking sheet. Shoot for rolling it into some semblance of a circle. Perfection is not needed or wanted here.
Sprinkle your softened leeks into the center, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border around the edge.
Then sprinkle cheese on top (I used Fontina, but you can use your favorite soft white cheese that is easy to shred).
Add tomatoes and zucchini. Make it pretty!
Fold over the edges of the tart (inward toward the middle).
Sprinkle salt and pepper and fresh herbs.
Bake for about 45 minutes, and you’ve got yourself a rustic tart- ready as a side-dish to grilled meats, or as a main dish for vegetarians. I served it alongside some grilled flank steak, and it was a big hit with the guests at my table (except for my tomato-averse son!!) The crust lends an slightly sweet flavor (which goes nicely with the sweet tomatoes), and the crunch that the whole grain cornmeal gives the crust is interesting too. The filling is all just great summer stuff, wonderful all-around of course. You don’t have to do much to summer produce to make it shine as the star of the dinner.
Make it while you still have access to summer produce… and before the snow hits! Let’s talk again this winter about that snow thing, okay? I think I’m good with it. We’ll see!
Rustic Tomato and Zucchini Tart
Yield: 1 tart (about 6 slices)
Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 50 min
1 3/4 cups All Purpose Unbleached Gold Medal® Flour
1/4 cup whole grain cornmeal
2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold salted butter, cut into pieces
1/3 cup + 1 to 2 tablespoons lowfat buttermilk
2 leeks, cut into thin slices (white and much of the green parts too)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup shredded Fontina cheese (or sub white cheese of your choice)
About 1 1/2 cups multi-colored cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
1 generous tablespoon chopped oregano or basil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Pre-filling prep: Prepare the leeks: Saute the leeks in olive oil until softened and lightly browned. Set aside to cool.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare the crust: Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar and salt in a medium bowl- whisk together. Add the salted butter and use a pastry cutter to cut it into the dry mixture (you can also do this step in a food processor). Keep cutting in the butter until your mixture is a mess of crumbs. Add 1/3 cup of buttermilk and stir to combine. You'll need to add 1 to 2 more tablespoons of buttermilk to create a nice ball of dough (get in there and use your hands... and transfer it to a floured surface where you can knead it into a ball). You don't want it to be wet, so don't add too much buttermilk- just until it all comes together. If you're doing this in a food processor, just drizzle in the buttermilk until the dough comes together in a ball. Place the ball of dough onto a large parchment-lined baking sheet and roll it into a 12 to 14-inch round circle (it does not have to be perfect).
3. Sprinkle the leeks around the middle of the rolled out crust, leaving about a 1 1/2=inch border around the edge. Add cheese next, then tomato and zucchini. Gently fold edges over toward the middle, on top of the filling. Sprinkle fresh herbs on top and a good dose of salt and pepper.
4. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Let cool for about 15 minutes, then slide the tart onto a cutting board, cut into slices and serve.