Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Revisit to Summer's Quintessence: Tomato Tart with Corn, Basil, and Chevre

It was nearly a year ago that I blogged with profuse apologies about making a corn and tomato galette over the first weekend of November. I'd just discovered a blog with the full monty of beautiful food porn called Alexandra's Kitchen. Her photos are just so gorgeous that I just wanted to start making her recipes on the spot, they looked that delicious. While the result of my November undertaking was pretty damn good, I've been wanting to revisit the same recipe all summer long this year to atone for having made the dish in the fall when both tomatoes and corn were past their prime. This tart is for me the quintessence of summer's bounty, but I guess I'm just too busy going to the beach to actually make it in the summer!

Well, this past weekend was fall by the calendar yet sunny and warm during the day. And having bought on Saturday what is probably the last of the season's corn at the farmers market (this corn is not for eating off the cob but rather cooking in soups and in my favorite succotash that I will probably use as stuffing in some globe zucchini as a final good-bye to summer, but I digress) along with some pretty nice looking tomatoes, I knew Sunday morning had to be a revisit to this corn and tomato galette. (I know, late to the party again, but truth be told I was only able last year to make the galette in November because I'd bought corn and kept it past its prime in the fridge for two weeks! And while it was still good enough to cook and eat, this recipe deserves quality ingredients--and a nice side salad, and the warm sun on your cheek as you enjoy it with a bellini to capture the summer's best offerings.)

As per my usual of late in maintaining my ethos of "eating down the fridge," I was also inclined to make this recipe because I had two cheeses in my fridge I wanted to make good use of before they might go bad, in this case goat cheese and ricotta I'd purchased at the farmers market the previous week. Having made this recipe just once and blogged about the result, I'd thought that it had a layer of creme fraiche on its bottom that was then layered with sauteed corn and onion before being topped by the thick tomato slices. Only after I'd made the crust did I realize that my memory had failed me slightly in that I was combining the ingredients for Alexandra's quiche recipe, which has homemade creme fraiche, with the ingredients for the tomato galette, which has no cheese base but has lots of grated cheese either above or below the tomatoes. No worries! A quick whisk to combine the chevre and ricotta on hand with a dash or two of goat's milk and an egg, some dried thyme, and salt and pepper and I had a beautiful cheese bed upon which to lay my sauteed corn and onion and the sliced tomatoes.

Also, I keep referring to this recipe as a galette, i.e. a free form tart that is not baked in a special pan. The ingredients are laid in the middle of the rolled-out dough, leaving a two inch border that is then folded and pleated over the contents to form a rustic tart that is baked and sliced up almost like a thick piece of pizza. However, I wanted to make the dish in my rectangular tart pan which I'd bought for an asparagus recipe of Jamie Oliver's that is delicious but a bit too much work so I've only ever used the pan once before. Added bonus is that rolling the dough out into a rectangle vs. a circle is rather easy so getting the dough to fit into my tart pan was quite easy. Ironically, Alexandra's galette recipe was a redux of her original tart preparation, which she had first made in a round tart pan. What with the addition of my cheesy base layer, I guess I can call this recipe my own for my return trip, which I happily present below. Also, do yourself a favor and double the pastry recipe, which I foolishly did not do. I can guarantee that you'll want to make it again for this recipe or a quiche or even a peach pie!

Tomato Tart with Corn, Basil, and Chevre
Serves 4 to 6

Pastry recipe
Adapted from Alexandra Stafford's adaptation from Fine Cooking, August 2000
  • 1-1/4 cups (5 oz.) all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup (1-1/2 oz.) fine yellow cornmeal [I used masa harina as I tend to buy medium rather than fine corn meal]
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 6 T. (3 oz.) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 1/4 cup ice water
In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt. Cut in the chilled butter using a stand mixer, a food processor, or a pastry blender until it’s evenly distributed but still in large, visible pieces. Add the olive oil and ice water a tablespoon at a time and mix until the dough begins to come together. It should still be separate crumbs mostly. Gather the dough with your hands and shape it into a disk. Wrap the disk in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. [Tip: It's best to make this dough the day before you need it because of the blind baking step which adds to the prep time. If impatient like me you can place the dough in the freezer for 20 minutes and then put in the fridge until ready to use.]

  • 1 large and 2 small to medium ripe tomatoes (about 1 pound total) cut into 1/3-inch slices, lightly salted and draining on paper towels as you go about preparing the onions and corn
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, roughly chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Kernels from 2 ears of corn (generous 1 cup) [Tip: to cut corn off the cob without the kernels flying everywhere, hold the ear upright on your cutting board, but start cutting halfway down the ear, rotating to remove all the corn from one half of the ear; turn the ear over and repeat for the half you were holding. Voila! Corn on the cutting board (mostly) and not on your counter, plus your fingertips are well away from your knife blade!]
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 bunch basil coarsely chopped to yield about 1/2 cup
  • 8 oz. soft cheese such as goat cheese or ricotta
  • 2 -3 Tbs. milk
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried
  • 1 egg
  • salt and pepper to taste.
  • 1 recipe cornmeal pastry (see above)
  • 1/4 cup grated semi-hard or hard cheese, such as manchego or parmesan
  • Garnish of your choice: chopped parsley, chives, basil or scallion, optional
Adjust an oven rack to the center position and heat the oven to 375°F.
Prep the onions and corn: Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan, over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened but not browned, about 10 min. Season with salt and pepper. Add the corn and cook another 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and mix in the garlic and chopped basil, letting the mixture cool in the pan.
Blind bake the tart shell: Meanwhile, if it's been long enough to firm up the dough, roll it out on a floured surface until big enough to fit your tart pan. Transfer the pastry to your tart pan and fit it into the sides without stretching. Trim off any excess and if necessary patch the dough where needed by moistening the edge with water and fitting the extra piece into the bare spot. Prick the bottom all over with a fork and lay a piece of parchment paper larger than the tart pan into the bottom. Fill the parchment paper with pie weights (I use about a pound of beans and rice reserved for this purpose) and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes remove the parchment and pie weights to a bowl and let cool for use another day. Return the tart to the oven for another 10 minutes until it becomes golden brown. Let cool slightly. [Tart crust can be prepared a day in advance. Wrap the tart pan in plastic wrap once cool and store at room temperature.]
Prep the chevre base layer: Whisk together the goat cheese, egg, thyme, salt and pepper with 2 tablespoons of the milk until a smooth spreadable consistency. If too thick, add some milk a little bit at at a time until the mixture is spreadable like cake frosting. Spread the cheese mixture into the bottom of the slightly cooled tart crust using a rubber spatula or the back of a spoon. Layer the onion and corn mixture on top. Pat the tomato slices dry with a paper towel and arrange decoratively on top of the corn mixture. Fit the tomatoes snugly without overlapping as they will shrink as the tart bakes. Sprinkle or grate some parmesan or other cheese over the top of the tomatoes.
Bake and serve: Bake until the crust has browned and the tomatoes have roasted and shriveled slightly, 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Slice the tart and serve with the herb or scallion garnish of your choice (which I forgot to do as you see in the picture below cuz I was so eager to taste this bad boy).


  1. Thanks for the recipe. I will leave you feedback as soon as I have prepared this. Looks Yummy!!


  2. I made this again yesterday (always seem to get to it when corn is well past its peak!) and sort of cleaned out my fridge to some extent. I added peppers to the veggie saute as well as the bottom of a jar of chunky fresh tomatillo salsa that a friend gave us a couple of weeks ago. Both were very welcome additions to the tart and demonstrate that this dish is more about assembling ingredients that go well together even beyond the original recipe.


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