Puff-Pastry Tomato Tarts

The Great British Baking Show. Love it.

Every season, it seems like Paul and Mary have the bakers make puff pastry at least three or four times. I’m mesmerized anew each time.

I’ve tried it myself from scratch exactly once. Made the lean dough (yes, by hand and pastry scraper). Chilled it. Pounded the butter till it was flat and pliable, but not too soft. Chilled it. Wrapped the lean dough in the butter. Rolled it out. Folded it. Rolled it out again. Folded it again. Chilled it. Rolled/folded, rolled/folded, chilled (again). Rolled/folded, rolled/folded, chilled (this time overnight).

All told, it was about a 15-hour ordeal.

I’m sure I’ll do it again. Someday. But not soon. And especially not on a weeknight.

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Apologies, Mary Berry. The box works just fine for me.

Until then, I try to keep the freezer stocked with a box of ready-to-bake sheets from Wegman’s. Two hours on the counter (or in the fridge while I’m at work), and we’re ready to roll (just once, and lightly at that).

From that point, for the tomato tarts below, you’re looking at about 45 minutes, tops.

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That’s tomatoes with lemon, oregano, and feta on the left, and tomatoes with mustard, basil, and goat cheese on the right.
Simple Tomato Tarts

Here’s yet another “recipe” that’s more about technique than specific and measured ingredients. You can use tomatoes only—and while it’s especially pretty with multi-colored fruits, it’s just as tasty in monochrome. You can add or substitute roasted peppers. You can use feta, fresh mozz, chevre, shaved parm, or no cheese at all.  Basil? Oregano? Tarragon? Up to you. Garlic? Onion? Shallots? Same way, it’s all your call. What a terrific end-of-summer bookend to the early-season asparagus version.

For the two pies below, I cut the thawed 16-ounce sheet in two. Serves 6-8 as a snack or app, or 4 as a meal alongside a salad.

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Blushing “Garden Peach” heirlooms from this week’s CSA sharebox even had a little fuzz.
Lemon-Oregano-Feta
  • 8 ounces puff pastry dough
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 lemon, sliced very thin (bust out your mandoline, if you have one)
  • 1 tbsp minced shallot
  • 2 sprigs oregano
  • 5 or 6 small tomatoes, in 1/4-inch slices
  • 2 tbsp crumbled feta cheese (or more)
  • sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375°.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry into an 8-by-10″ rectangle. Transfer to a parchment- or silicone-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Use a fork to prick holes on the surface of the dough, leaving at least a half-inch border on all sides.

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Brush the dough with one tablespoon of the olive oil. Lay on a base layer of lemon slices, and scatter the shallots across the top.

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Distribute the oregano, then arrange the tomato slices in whatever pattern you like. Add the cheese, drizzle the rest of the olive oil over the top, and season with salt and pepper.

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If your tomatoes are super juicy, dry off the slices a bit on a paper towel before you place them on the dough. That’ll help keep the crust from getting soggy.

Bake for about 30 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Let the tart cool for about 15 minutes before you cut it. And honestly, it’s just as great at room temperature as it is hot out of the oven.

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Mustard-Basil-Chèvre
  • 8 ounces puff pastry dough
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • about 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp minced shallot
  • 5-6 large basil leaves
  • 5 or 6 small tomatoes, in 1/4-inch slices
  • 2 tbsp crumbled chèvre (fresh goat cheese)
  • sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste

Same deal, really.

Roll out the dough, hit it with the fork, and brush on the oil as above.

Use the back of a spoon (or a brush) to spread the mustard across the pie. Scatter the shallots and torn basil leaves. Load on the tomatoes, top with the remaining oil and salt and pepper. Bake for about a half hour.

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What to drink?

I’m sure you thought I was going to say “rosé.” And a crisp pink would indeed make the summer in this late-summer showcase pop. But, to be honest, with lighter Mediterranean flavors, I pour southern-Rhône whites just as often. Domaine Jaume’s little Côtes du Rhône Blanc is mostly Grenache Blanc with smaller doses of Marsanne, Roussanne, and Clairette. Lots of citrus—and a hint of sage—on the nose suggest Jaume Blanc’s a wonderful tomato companion. The nose does not lie. This wine is rich, but not fat. It’s full of fruit (think lemon-kissed pears), but not sweet. And at around $14, it’s as weeknight-friendly as the meal was.

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