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I know that you can pretty much get most vegetables year-round, but some of them just taste better in the summer.
Point in case: tomatoes!
Any other time of year, they are mealy and tasteless and why even bother?
But during summer? Game changer! They are firm and juicy and delicious.
They are the reason BLTs exist. They are the reason my Vegetable Club Sandwich garnered thousands of comments and reactions on a Facebook post.
They are the stuff of warm, tomato-y dreams.
I do not have a green thumb. At all. Mine is probably a dark, dry brown in color. I have killed more plants than is probably legal. Walmart actually refuses to sell me plants anymore. They are afraid they will be charged with accessory to murder.
*Okay, that’s actually not true. Please do not contact Walmart about this horrible (and totally made-up) injustice.
Anyway, I stink at growing plants.
I do currently have a windowsill herb garden. Three of the six herbs I planted actually grew. My basil, cilantro, and parsley are doing well – and I’ve actually already used them in several recipes. However, the peppermint, rosemary, and chives refused to show their little heads at all. To this day, there is nothing in their pots except some dry, neglected dirt.
But tomatoes? Nope. I don’t even try.
And, thankfully, I don’t have to because my parents grow a lot of tomatoes! And they love me, so they share!
The other day, they brought me a huge bag of tomatoes, an equally-large bag of yellow squash, and a bag of okra. I was beyond grateful! I cooked the okra and several of the squash the very next day. I used more of the squash in the kids’ meal prep.
And I have used lots of the tomatoes! They are honestly delicious just sliced and sprinkled with salt and pepper, so they have been added to several plates just like that.
But this…this was a great way to use those fresh tomatoes!
About thirty minutes before I started actually making this recipe, I thinly sliced two tomatoes and laid them on a couple of thicknesses of paper towel. I lightly salted both sides of the tomatoes and left them alone! This helps draw a lot of the moisture out of the slices – which is essential for this recipe because you don’t want to end up with a soggy crust! You will be shocked when you take the slices off in thirty minutes and you see how much moisture the towels have soaked up!
Next, you’re going to dice up a large onion and saute in olive oil until tender and dark brown and caramelized. This will take about 15 minutes.
Now, leave the onions and tomatoes alone for 15-20 minutes. The tomatoes will keep weeping moisture and the onions will cool a bit.
When you’re ready to go, take both sheets of puff pastry out of the refrigerator – they have to be completely thawed! – and unfold each one onto a prepared baking sheet. You can use parchment or foil, but I prefer to use silicone baking mats. I will include a link to those at the end of this post. You REALLY want to buy these things. They make cooking on baking sheets so easy!
So I used my little rolling pin (I’ll include that link, too. It’s a cute little rolling pin that’s only eleven inches long so it’s easier to use than a big one.) to roll the sheets out a little. They basically ended up a few inches bigger on all sides.
Then I laid slices of Chao plant-based cheese onto the pastry, leaving about an inch border all the way around. I love Chao because it actually melts. A lot of vegan cheeses don’t. If you aren’t a plant-based eater, a fabulous replacement would be slices of smoked gouda. That’s what I used on my Mushroom Onion and Gouda Tart several years ago. It makes a creamy, delicious base! But Chao is a wonderful alternative!
Add half of the onions to each pastry. I just used my hands because it was easier.
Lay the tomatoes on top in a single layer.
I sprayed the exposed edges with baking spray (If you are not eating plant-based, you can brush the edges with an eggwash instead) before baking for 30-35 minutes. Then I removed both sheet pans from the oven and I garnished them with a chiffonade of fresh basil (Don’t be scared. Here’s what a chiffonade is: grab a handful of basil and roll it tightly into a bundle. Then slice the bundle into really thin slices. That’s it. Seriously.). Garnishing just means sprinkling the little slices (they are kind of like little ribbons) on top of the tomatoes.
Now that I’ve talked you through it, here’s the actual recipe!
Tomato and Onion Tart
- Puff Pastry, completely thawed (I used 2 sheets and made two tarts)
- Chao cheese slices
- 2 thinly-sliced fresh tomatoes
- 1 large onion, diced small
- Fresh basil
About thirty minutes before you start cooking, slice the tomato thinly and lay slices on paper towels. Salt slices lightly. Flip over and salt second side. This will draw out the moisture so your pastry doesn’t get soggy.
Preheat oven to 400°.
Prepare a large baking sheet by using a silicone baking mat or parchment or foil sprayed with baking spray. Set aside. I made two pastries, so I used two sheet pans.
In a small skillet, drizzle olive oil and add 1 large, diced onion. Stir occasionally over high heat until onions are brown and tender. Leave for about 15 minutes to cool.
Place a thawed sheet of puff pastry onto the prepared pan and use a rolling pin (or bottle or heavy glass) to roll the pastry out just a bit. Repeat with second sheet, if making two.
Lay slices of cheese onto the pastry, leaving a 1-inch border. Layer on half the onions on each pastry. Add a layer of tomatoes.
Spray the border with baking spray.
Bake for 30-35 minutes – or until exposed pastry is golden.
Remove from oven.
Chiffonade a handful of fresh basil (Roll the basil leaves into a tight bundle and slice thinly). Sprinkle basil over the tarts.
Cut into squares to serve.
Michael really didn’t think he was going to like this because it was different than his usual fare, but he ended up loving it! Not only is the flavor of the onions, tomatoes, and basil great, it also has that creamy, dreamy cheese layer as a base. It really is spectacular! And it looks a lot more fancy than it actually is.
Try this awesome dish while the tomatoes are still tomatoes and they aren’t living some sad, half life on the produce shelves!
Silicone Baking Mats:
Small Rolling Pin:
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