Taking a tomato tart up a notch

I’ve been working a lot lately, which means I’ve been eating a lot of pasta and quick meals. After a few days of reaching for whatever was in the fridge, I was craving something healthy, something homemade, something that would leave leftovers.

After a long day at work on Wednesday, I turned on the Food Network and saw the Barefoot Contessa was making a tomato and goat cheese tart, but hers used puff pastry and I was too tired to go to the store. So I Googled it to see what other recipes were out there. That’s how I found this recipe on The New York Times.

Compared to the tomato and goat cheese tarts I’ve made before, all of which were either unremarkable or overwhelmed by goat cheese, this one made an impression. I loved the crust for it — it’s somewhere in between bread and a pie crust; crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Next time, I might even bake herbs into it. The dijon mustard spread on the crust added an unexpected level of flavor. If you don’t like dijon mustard, try substituting regular mustard, some kind of salad dressing or just eliminating it. Or, if you only want a bit of the flavor, use half the amount called for by the recipe. This version of a tomato and goat cheese tart is more tomato than goat cheese, and I prefer it that way, Choose ripe heirloom tomatoes for really fresh flavor. They make it beautiful, too.

Crust
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1/8 teaspoon sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature, beaten
1/8 cup olive oil
1/2 cup bread flour
1/2 cup unbleached flour
3/4 teaspoon salt

Dissolve the yeast in the water, add the sugar, and allow to sit until the mixture is creamy, about five minutes. Beat in the egg and the olive oil. Combine the flours and salt, and stir into the yeast mixture. You can use a bowl and wooden spoon for this, or a mixer — combine the ingredients using the paddle. Work the dough until it comes together in a coherent mass, adding flour as necessary. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead gently for a few minutes, adding flour as necessary, just until the dough is smooth — do not overwork it. Shape into a ball. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover the dough tightly with plastic wrap, and allow to rise in a draft-free spot until doubled in size, about one hour. If it’s too cold to rise, put the oven on warm until it heats up, then turn it off and put the dough inside. It’s a gem of a trick one of my former coworkers taught me. It has saved many a bread dough from being thrown out due to frustration.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, gently knead a couple of times, and cut into two equal pieces (or as directed in each of this week’s recipes). Shape each piece into a ball without kneading it. Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap, and let rest for five minutes. Then roll out into thin rounds, as directed in each recipe, and line pans. If not using right away, freeze the dough to prevent it from rising and becoming too fluffy. The dough can be transferred directly from the freezer to the oven.

Filling
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 ripe heirloom tomatoes
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 to 3 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped rosemary or dried herbs
2 eggs
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 10-inch tart pan and line it with the pastry. Keep in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

Brush the mustard over the bottom of the dough. Slice the tomatoes and arrange over the mustard in concentric circles, overlapping them slightly. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and the herbs.

Beat together the eggs and goat cheese. Season with salt and pepper and pour over the tomatoes. Drizzle on the olive oil. Place in the oven and bake 30 to 40 minutes, until the top is nicely browned. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

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