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Tomato mozzarella and basil tart is a versatile dish

 

A tomato, mozzarella and basil tart benefits from lightly salting and draining the tomatoes to keep the tart from becoming soggy.

A tomato, mozzarella and basil tart benefits from lightly salting and draining the tomatoes to keep the tart from becoming soggy. Photo by: Sara Moulton via AP

 

Sara Moulton/The Associated Press

 

 

There are very few things more delicious than tomatoes in season. Sure you can buy them year-round, but these imports tend to be mealy and flavorless, so why bother? Tomato mozzarella and basil tart is a celebration of the tomato at the peak of its perfection. 

 

One important step will guarantee this recipe's success: You want to keep the tomatoes' water content from making the tart soggy. How to do it? Salt and drain them. This simple process not only flushes out their excess liquid, but it also magnifies their tomato-iness. For that matter, I recommend lightly salting and draining tomatoes even when you plan to eat them raw in a salad. 

 

Here we've paired the tomatoes with some of their BFFs -- mozzarella and basil -- then stacked the deck by adding some ricotta and Parmigiano-Reggiano. The recipe calls for full-fat mozzarella and ricotta, but you can lighten it up by using low-fat versions instead. 

 

Also, if you don't feel like making pie dough from scratch, go ahead and substitute store-bought pie dough. (It's usually sold already rolled out in a disposable pie tin.) After letting the store-bought dough soften a bit at room temperature, lift it up gently and fit it into the tart tin just as you would if you were using homemade dough. 

 

By the way, a tart tin fitted with a removable fluted rim will make you look like a baking genius. It automatically gives the dough a fluted edge -- no shaping on your part required -- and it's designed for easy unmolding so it's a cinch to cut out slices. It's really a worthwhile investment. 

 

The finished tart is hard to beat -- great right out of the oven or at room temperature -- for lunch or dinner, at home or at a picnic. Add a salad and call it a meal. 

 

 

 

TOMATO MOZZARELLA AND BASIL TART 

 

Start to finish: 5 hours (1 hour active) 

 

Servings: 6-8 

 

 

 

For the dough: 

 

6 ounces (about 1 1/3 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour 

 

1/4 teaspoon table salt 

 

10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes 

 

2-4 tablespoons ice water 

 

 

 

For the pie: 

 

4 medium beefsteak tomatoes (about 1 3/4 pounds) 

 

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for sprinkling on tomatoes 

 

1 cup packed basil leaves plus extra small leaves for garnish 

 

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole-milk ricotta cheese 

 

2 large eggs, lightly beaten 

 

1 cup coarsely grated mozzarella cheese (about 6 ounces) 

 

1 ounce freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano 

 

1/4 teaspoon black pepper 

 

Extra-virgin olive oil for brushing on tomatoes 

 

 

 

  • To make the dough: In a large bowl, stir together flour and salt, add the butter and, working quickly with fingertips or a pastry blender, mix dough until most of the mixture resembles coarse meal, with the rest in small (roughly pea-sized) lumps.  

     

  • Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the ice water evenly over mixture and gently stir with a fork until incorporated. Gently squeeze a small handful: it should hold together without crumbling apart. If it doesn't, add more ice water, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, stirring 2-3 times after each addition until it comes together. 

     

  • Turn dough out onto a clean work surface and with the heel of your hand, smear dough in a forward motion on work surface to help distribute fat. Gather smeared dough together and repeat process. Form dough into a disk. Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour. 

     

  • Remove dough from refrigerator and let soften for 30-40 minutes at room temperature. On a lightly floured surface roll out dough into an 11-inch round. Ease the round into a 9-inch tart tin with a removable fluted rim, trim excess dough and prick bottom and sides of dough all over with a fork. Cover and chill 1 hour. 

     

  • Preheat oven to 400 F. Line the shell with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights, dried beans or rice. Bake in lower third of oven 20 minutes. Carefully remove foil and pie weights, return tart shell to oven and bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool. 

     

  • For filling: Reduce oven temperature to 350 F. Slice tomatoes 1/3-inch thick, lightly salt slices on both sides and transfer them to a large colander or cake rack to drain for 20 minutes. 

     

  • In a food processor, combine basil, ricotta and eggs and process until blended. Add the salt, mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano and pepper and process until combined. 

     

  • Pat tomatoes dry with paper towels. Line bottom of pastry shell with the tomato end pieces; spoon on the cheese mixture, smoothing it out with a spatula. Arrange remaining tomato slices on top, in one layer, overlapping them slightly. Brush tomatoes with olive oil and bake until cheese mixture is set, about 1 hour. Transfer to a rack to cool 10 minutes before serving. 

     

    Nutrition information per serving: 328 calories; 200 calories from fat; 22 g fat (14 g saturated; 1 g trans fats); 112 mg cholesterol; 395 mg sodium; 21 g carbohydrates; 1 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 11 g protein.

     

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