french tomato tart

Yes, it’s true. It’s no coincidence that three out of our four recipes so far this month, including our exclusive newsletter recipe, have basil in it. In an effort to expand our ‘living pantry,’ we went out got ourselves a basil plant =) And since it is summertime and the leaves are bountiful, we couldn’t help but resist picking them fresh and using them in another recipe… this time around, in a crisp, sweet tomato tart.

This tart is truly made the French way, where every element is cooked separately and then brought together in the end for a beautifully delicious finish. The tomato confit takes about two hours to slowly dry in the oven, but oh boy, is it worth it =P Confit is a general means of preservation by immersing food in a substance, usually fat or sugar, but in our case, it’s olive oil. Slow-roasting the tomato petals with olive oil brings out every bit of goodness in the tomato… all that is sweet and wonderful =D You’ll probably want to use them in everything from antipasto to grilled fish to burgers, but just make sure you have enough reserved for the tart =P The tomatoes for both the tomato confit and tomato concassé need to be peeled and seeded, so you can prep them all at once, or separately if you’re planning on making the tomato confit ahead of time.

I figured the puff pastry would add enough richness to the tart and also, I didn’t want it to be mistaken for a pizza, so I left out the cheese. It’s perfectly wonderful ’sans’ cheese, but if you must have that extra bit of ooey-gooey goodness, then I would suggest either a fresh goat cheese or creamy burrata (but preferably the former so as to keep it French =P)




PREP TIME 30 Min
COOK TIME 2 Hr 30 Min
READY IN 3 Hr
   
SERVINGS 2 tarts

 

INGREDIENTS:

For the Tomato Confit:

4 plum tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (See the Guide)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
2 sprigs of thyme, leaves only
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
  coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper (See the Guide)

 

For the Tomato Concassé:

4 plum tomatoes or tomatoes on the vine
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (See the Guide)
2 whole garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed
2 sprigs of thyme, leaves only
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon piment d’Espelette, optional (See the Guide)
  salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 

For the Sautéed Fennel:

1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed, cored and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (See the Guide)
1 whole garlic clove, peeled and lightly crushed
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon piment d’Espelette, optional (See the Guide)
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 

For the Tomato Tart:

1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed
olive oil, for brushing
2 teaspoons coarse-grain mustard, optional
12 fresh basil leaves
Tomato Concassé
Sautéed Fennel
Tomato Confit
extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper for finishing (See the Guide)

 

EQUIPMENT:

Large cutting board
Chef’s knife (See the Guide)
Paring knife
Serrated bread knife
Spatula
Parchment paper and/or foil
Fork
Spoon
Pastry brush
Medium saucepan or heavy-bottomed French oven (See the Guide)
Sauté pan
Mixing bowls
Baking sheet(s)
Cooling rack

 

DIRECTIONS:

For the Tomato Confit:

  • Preheat the oven to 200°F.
  • Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. With a sharp paring knife, cut out and discard the stem end of each tomato; score the opposite end with an ‘X’. Place tomatoes in a large mixing bowl.
  • Pour the boiling water over the tomatoes and let sit just until the skin starts to peel away from the ends, about 15-30 seconds. (Alternatively, plunge the tomatoes into boiling water for 15 seconds.) Drain tomatoes and shock in ice water.
  • Peel tomatoes with a paring knife once cool enough to handle. The peels should easily come off at this point. Quarter each peeled tomato and remove the seeds and pulp with a paring knife. Discard the seeds and pulp and place the quartered tomato petals in a mixing bowl.
  • Add the olive oil, sliced garlic, thyme leaves, and sugar to the bowl of tomato petals. Gently toss to coat evenly.
  • Lay out the tomato petals on a parchment paper- or foil-lined baking sheet. Pour the remaining contents of the bowl, including the thyme and sliced garlic over the tomatoes. Season with coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
  • Slowly roast in the oven for 2 hours.*

For the Tomato Concassé:

  • Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. With a sharp paring knife, cut out and discard the stem end of each tomato; score the opposite end with an ‘X’. Place tomatoes in a large mixing bowl.
  • Pour the boiling water over the tomatoes and let sit just until the skin starts to peel away from the ends, about 15-30 seconds. (Alternatively, plunge the tomatoes into boiling water for 15 seconds.) Drain tomatoes and cover with ice water.
  • Peel tomatoes with a paring knife once cool enough to handle. The peels should easily come off at this point. Quarter each peeled tomato and remove the seeds and pulp with a paring knife. Discard the seeds and pulp and roughly dice the quartered tomato petals.
  • In a medium saucepan or heavy-bottomed French oven, heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the finely chopped onion and lightly crushed, whole garlic cloves. Sweat gently until soft and translucent, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the peeled, seeded, and diced tomatoes along with the thyme leaves, and sugar. Season with piment d’Espelette, if using, salt and freshly ground pepper. Stir to combine and cover with a parchment paper lid.** Let simmer, stirring occasionally until thick and liquid has evaporated, about 40-50 minutes. The consistency of the tomato concassé should be almost jam-like. Discard the garlic cloves. Taste for seasoning and set aside.

For the Sautéed Fennel:

  • In a sauté pan, heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the lightly crushed, whole garlic clove and sliced fennel. Sprinkle sugar on top and stir to coat evenly. Add the chicken stock and let cook until all of the liquid has evaporated. Season with piment d’Espelette, if using, salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste. Discard the garlic clove and set aside.

For the Tomato Tart:

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • Puff pastry sheets are typically folded into thirds. Unfold the sheet and use a chef’s knife to cut along the fold lines to get three 3×9-inch long rectangles of puff pastry. Use a chef’s knife to cut one rectangle into 6 long strips of puff pastry approximately 1/2-inch wide. Lay the other two rectangles flat on an unlined baking sheet at least an inch apart.
  • Set a small bowl of water aside. Dip your finger in the water and run along the outer edge of each rectangle on the baking sheet, creating a 1/2-inch border. Lay out the strips of puff pastry along this border, trimming the strips to the appropriate length as necessary. Press lightly to adhere. You should have enough strips of puff pastry to form two rectangular tart shells.
  • Use a fork to poke holes in the bottom of the tart shells to prevent rising. Brush the bottom and the border of the tart shells with olive oil. Bake until the crust begins to puff and slightly brown, about 20 minutes.
  • Remove the baking sheet from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Spread 1 teaspoon of whole-grain mustard, if using, on the bottom of each tart shell. Top with a layer of basil leaves (3 whole leaves for each tart).
  • Divide the tomato concassé between the two tarts and spread evenly with a spoon. Top with an even layer of sautéed fennel.
  • Arrange tomato confit on top of each tart. Return the baking sheet back into the oven and finish baking until the crust is golden brown, another 10 minutes.
  • Allow the tart to cool slightly before transferring to a serving platter. Garnish with fresh basil (3 whole leaves for each tart), a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, and a sprinkling of coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Slice with a serrated bread knife and enjoy hot or warm.

  

NOTES:

  • If you’re not planning to use the tomato confit immediately, then let cool completely and transfer the tomatoes to a storage container with a tight-fitting lid. Pour any remaining oil over the top and add additional oil if there’s not enough to cover the tomatoes. You can store the tomato confit in the fridge for up to 1 week.
  • Parchment paper lids are super easy to make and useful, yet they still remain one of the best-kept culinary secrets among cooking professionals. Also known as a cartouche, it’s simply a piece of parchment paper cut into a circle to fit the circumference of a pot or pan. (Fold the paper in half several times just as if you were making a paper snowflake. Hold it over the pot with the tip approximately in the center and cut the edge of the paper to fit the radius of the pot. When you unfold it, you should have an almost perfect circle the size of the pot.) The paper lid helps keep moisture and heat inside so the food cooks, yet allows enough steam to escape so that liquid does indeed reduce over time. We like to use them for braises, stews, glazing vegetables, and of course, for tomato concassé. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention, we love that fact that there’s one less thing to wash at the end when we’re done cooking ;)

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