Friday, September 24, 2010

Savory Cherry Tomato Tart or Torta Salata con Pomodorini Ciliegini


The hurried I go, the behinder I get. Don't you just feel that way sometimes?
Just when you think things are easing off, there are still plenty of fruits to put up, herbs to dry and get the garden ready for the winter since it looks to have been somewhat abandoned here at the end of summer at the height of the go, grow, go season. Well, the good news is that that produce overload will be oh so appreciated in the not so distant future. 
I have loads I want to write about and just not enough presence of mind to get it on the blog, and blah, blah, blah....
Ok, having said that, before tomato season is over and all of those luscious little red jewels are but a lingering  taunting memory, I suggest you make this oh- so- tasty tart. Torta salate is a general term for any savory pastry crust filled with any sort of vegetable, cheese, or combination that is in season and suits you. Baked in a large shape or individual servings it lends itself to many combinations and interpretations.  The one I'll leave you with today is simply filled with ricotta and cherry tomatoes and baked to a brown perfection that will only be too easy to eat at one sitting, but it holds well in the fridge and reheats easily enough   the next day or so with out being soggy and that is always a plus. I used a super simple olive oil crust, but you can use whatever pastry crust you like to make or buy for that matter. I especially like the grape sized  tomatoes, that are so sweet, but any great tasting tomato will do, but the smaller cherry tomatoes look nice all lined up. I would avoid juicy large tomatoes as they will give off too much liquid and make for a soggy tart. Then again, it might not make it past the first sitting when it's warm from the oven and fragrant with herbs and cheesy tomatoes taunting you on. 

Savory Cherry Tomato Tart
Torta Salata con Pomodorini Ciliegini

Serves 4 to 6     (1 large tart or 6 individual tarts)                                                              

·       500 g (1 1/4 pounds) cherry tomatoes
·       60-90g (1/2 c) Parmesan cheese, grated, adjust to your taste
·       250 g  (8 oz) ricotta
·       1 egg, beaten
·       8g (3 T ) fresh thyme or basil, chopped if using dried cut back  as it will be stronger
         I use the thyme when fresh basil isn't available or I use it in the crust and the fresh basil in the tart.
·       Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, freshly grated nutmeg about 1/8 tsp

·        1-22-26 (10") pastry crust, I used an olive oil pastry ** recipe below**
·       1 egg  whisked together with 10g (1 T) milk , cream or water depending on how dark you want your crust to color. Water being the lightest

Method
  -Make your crust first, or if you are using a pre-made one then, go straight to the filling.


  -Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to a 33 cm (13-inch) circle, about 1 cm (1/4-inch) thick.
  -Transfer to a 22-26cm (10-inch) pan with sides or pie plate that has been lightly oiled.  
  -Refrigerate until cold, if you have time, about 20 minutes.
 -Preheat oven to 190*C (375 *F).
 -Mix your ricotta with a fork breaking up into a smoothish consistency. 
 -Add your parmesan and mix.
 -Add the beaten egg.
 -I like to add the fresh torn basil leaves to the ricotta mixture, if they are fresh. I don't like or use dried basil so I wouldn't suggest adding them to the ricotta unless you are a fan. I think it overwhelms the delicate ricotta flavor. by all means add other varieties of stringer flavored cheese for a bit more of a punch. Goat cheese is a nice addition
 -Season with salt, pepper and fresh grated nutmeg. You want to taste the nutmeg faintly in the background so that it comes through when baked.
 -Another nice note if you want a bit more bite from your ricotta without adding more cheese, is to add a tablespoon of brown mustard to the mix for a nice subtle bite.
 -Slice your tomatoes in half into a small bowl. Drizzle a small amount of oil over them. Add a tablespoon of thyme, fresh or a bit less dry, if you like and lightly toss to coat and mix.
 -Spread the ricotta filling over the bottom of the  crust.
 -Cover the top of your tart with your  tomatoes, cut side up.
 -Sprinkle a small amount of coarse or regular salt and fresh cracked pepper over the top of the tomatoes.  Or you could sprinkle more parmesan on top instead of the salt.
 -Fold in the overflow of crust, slightly overlapping when needed. 
 -Whisk egg with your liquid in a small bowl. Brush crust with egg wash. 
 -Bake pie on a baking sheet until crust is golden brown and juices are bubbling, about 45 minutes.




**Olive Oil Pastry Crust**

Serves 6-8
1 large  crust  22-24 cm (10”)

200g  plain flour  (1 ½c I use the scoop and smooth method) or all plain flour  if desired. 
70g (1/2c) Farro/Spelt  gives a nutty flavor without being too heavy
1            dash salt
100g     olive oil, light flavored (1/2 c)
75 g       very cold  water (5 T )
10-20g fresh herbs, (1-2 T)  chopped  If using dry,  use 10g (1 T), Thyme is one of my favorites
or
20 g or so (2 T) sesame seeds

·       Measure the flour  in a medium-sized bowl. Add the dash of salt and stir  with a fork.
·       Pour the oil in and stir and "cut" it with a fork until you have clumps varying between pea and large bean size.
·       Distribute the cold water over the mixture.  Stir with the fork just until it  comes together, using your hands to help it along if necessary.
·       Wrap dough and chill for half an hour to one hour.

·       Wipe your countertop with a damp cloth and spread a piece of  parchment paper, wax paper or cling film, on it. The paper should not slide -- if it does, dampen the counter a little more. I find cling film the easiest to use.
·       Place your dough on the paper or cling film and cover it with another piece of wax paper.
·       Roll the dough with a rolling pin from the center out in all directions, keeping it as circular as possible.
·       Periodically do the following:.
·       Peel off the top piece of paper/film, then lay it gently back on top of the crust, using the bottom piece to lift it, turn the crust over, peel off that piece of paper, lay it back down again and continue rolling.
·       Continue the peel-replace-flip-peel-replace technique until your crust is about two inches bigger than your pie pan.
·       Peel off one sheet and place crust into a lightly oiled pan and peel off the cling film. If it should stick because it has become too soft. Place the pan and crust in the refrigerator and chill a few minutes until it is easy to remove the paper or film
·       Fill with your favorite filling  Curve the edges inward to make a nice rustic looking tart.
·       Brush the top crust with milk or egg wash 
·       Bake  normally at a 190*C or 350*F  till golden brown.

Serve warm or room temperature. 
I reheat the second day by putting it on a cast iron skillet for non stick pan, turn on the heat and cover with a lid. It usually warms through nicely without burning or turning on the oven.

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