Every once in a while, I find an idea in a food magazine that becomes my “go to” appetizer or a pupu with cocktails….this is my current one – tomato tarts made with puff pastry, the best aged cheddar, and the best of the seasons’ tomatoes.
If I weren’t battling a cold, coughing and just feeling lousy, I would have been on the F train into the city to the Union Square Greenmarket to buy a few pounds of gorgeous red tomatoes as well as the many other colored heirloom tomatoes now coming to a farmers market near you. The Union Square market is one of the last remaining true joys of Manhattan (my home town) at least for me anyway.
I’ve now made these tomato tarts three times – using beautiful tomatoes from a farm on Long Island near where my sister lives. You can tell when a tomato is fresh off the vine – as it will last for a much longer time on the kitchen counter than any you buy in a supermarket. These tomatoes were so red, inside and out, that they looked as if they had been photoshopped!
The method for this simple, yet delicious tart begins with having package of frozen puff pastry at the ready in your freezer. Next, having a really well-aged white cheddar on hand, and of course, great tomatoes. The basil garnish came from my own growing collection of herbs on my lanai (balcony) I have also garnished the tarts with sprigs of thyme.
The herbs have grown a lot since this photo was taken back in June – but you get the idea! Basil, chives, rosemary, thyme, mint – the chives and mint are from last year – yes, they survived the cold NYC winter months – under a plastic tarp! The chives were the first to bloom in mid-March – it’s so inspiring to see the new green shoots coming up through the old planting. Ditto for the mint – which has spread to yield me more mint that I can use!
But I digressed from the method of making the tomato tarts….
Heat the oven to 375F. Line a large sheet pan (cookie sheet) with parchment paper.
1. defrost one sheet of frozen puff pastry – then roll it out on a lightly floured surface just so that it’s slightly larger than it was.
2. use the large holes on a box grater to shred the aged cheddar
3. slice a tomato or two, depending on their size,into slightly larger than 1/4-inch thick slices
Using a jar or glass or any object that is about 4-inches in diameter (I used the plastic top of a quart container) make rounds of the puff pastry dough and place them onto the parchment lined sheet pan. Next, add enough shredded white cheddar to the center of each pastry disk leaving at least an 1/8 edge of dough showing. Then add one or two slices of the tomato to cover the cheese. I then add a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to each tart, plus a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Place in the hot oven for about 20 minutes. The timing depends on how hot your oven is – oven temps vary even if the temperature dial is set at 375F. What you are looking for is the puff pastry to be puffed and browned around the edges – as well as on the bottom of the tarts. Remove the pan from the oven and let the tarts cool on the parchment paper.
As you can see in the photo, I yielded 6 tarts from one sheet of puff pastry….the empty space on the sheet pan is where the one I had to taste to be sure they were as delicious as they looked – before I took the photo!