Late Summer Tomato Tart, Whole Wheat Olive Oil Crust

Savory Recipes, Summer • 17 Sep 2014

I vacantly stare out my windows, three stout glass panes standing in tandem at the edge of my barren living room. My vision feels hazy from exhaustion, or maybe because I’m caught in the fissure of a daydream, but I believe a few blood-red leaves have insinuated themselves in the bushy green leaves that stately guard our house. I’m fairly certain the pop of color appeared this morning, or maybe it matured yesterday. My brain is discombobulated and unfocused. My attention to detail is flawed.


I have noticed that this week’s morning air is thinner, cooler and less swollen with humidity. The crisp breeze gives my arm hairs a jolt, and my belly churns in the exact same way it churned every youthful morning before school; a chasm of excitement, frenzy and anxiety.

Early September has catapulted us down a flowing river of change, and it has been a quick education. We left our less-than perfect, somewhat fraught, but always exciting life in Brooklyn and relocated to the tiny, historic and green Irvington, a village nestled in the bosom of the Hudson Rivertowns.

The move wasn’t easy for me and I admit a few tears were shed among the rubble and dust of packing boxes. We left behind the city that birthed my motherhood and we loved raising our son in the frenetic hustle and bustle. Though I cannot downplay the beauty Irvington, a town brimming with friendliness, I do long for my earnest friends, for the milky chocolate brownstones, for the inescapable clamor and commotion.

While our son was thrown into the fire, beginning school upon arrival, I jumped immediately into our new kitchen, which feels like foreign soil. I can’t shake the jarring sensation, the incongruity of the new space. The piles of pots and pans strewn on the countertop irk my innards. The encumbrance propelled me out of the house, across the street to the farm market in search of inspiration and solace.

Nestled behind the elementary school and next to the Historic Society on Main Street, the market quelled my nerves. Though a fraction of its New York City counterpart, the roster of vendors is inspired and diverse and I found myself not missing the city’s overflowing, abundant starch-white market tents. Our new town’s small community convenes here on Wednesday afternoons and evenings, jettisoning the workday stress and reposing on the grassy lawn behind the school or at one of the handful of ad hoc tables at the hub of the circumferential vendors. We dined on pizza from Dough Nation’s mobile wood-burning oven followed by Penny Lick’s retro push pops filled with creamy, luscious ice cream.


Strolling among the vendors, we practiced simple math by counting pyramids of rainbow tomatoes, bunches of fizzle-edged kale, piles of lean yellow squash and stacks of local baguettes from Wave Hill Breads. We came home with a pile of mulberry-hued plums, Japanese eggplants, bushy kale and a crinkled, cuffed paper bag filled with diminutive late summer heirloom tomatoes. Their taut skins felt presciently warm in contrast to the newly chilly air, a delicate squeeze practically releasing their sweet, tepid juices. It was as if they knew their fate, to be roasted, recoiling under the heat of the broiler, among wilted onions and cheese in an earthy, nutty tart.

My son and I counted the smooth red ones and the apple green ones together. I placed the lemony yellow ones in a small bowl. We separated them by color before leaving them on the counter for the night. The next morning I prepared the tart crust using a mixture of all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour and olive oil, which gave it a nutty, rustic flavor. I baked the shell until slightly golden and allowed it to fully cool before spooning in sweet, browned, wilted onions, Gruyere and Parmigiano Reggiano and juicy roasted tomatoes. I returned the tart to the oven to melt the cheese and once again, let the whole thing cool to room temperature.


We gobbled up the slices immediately, sprinkled with flecks of sea salt and drizzled with a bit more olive oil. Sitting with knees folded to chest at our tiny, New York City-sized kitchen table, we surveyed our new space and the red bespeckled Japanese Maple outside our window. I felt relaxed and at home, in my new kitchen and in our new town.

Late Summer Heirloom Tomato Tart with Whole Wheat Olive Oil Crust

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch kosher salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 egg yolk, beaten
1/4 cup ice water

1 medium yellow onion, cut into 1/8-inch thick slices
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon brown sugar
12-14 ounces heirloom cherry or grape tomatoes
2 ounces grated Gruyere
1/2 ounce grated Parmigiano Reggiano
2 teaspoons chopped chives
Extra olive oil for drizzling and sea salt to taste (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees with rack in the middle. Sift whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour and salt into a medium bowl. Add olive oil and egg yolk and mix gently with a fork until the mixture resembles pea-sized lumps. Incorporate ice water and mix gently and quickly with hands until the dough is soft and uniform.

2. Ball up the dough and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30-45 minutes.

3. When the dough is chilled, roll out on a lightly floured work surface until about 1/8-inch thick. Transfer dough to a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Trim off overhang and prick the dough thoroughly with a fork.

4. Line tart shell with a piece of foil and fill the shell with dried beans. Bake, on middle rack, for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and beans and bake another 5 minutes. Cool tart shell on wire rack.

5. While tart is baking, heat a medium heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil, onions and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes until the onions are chestnut brown. Add sugar, stirring until it dissolves, and set onions aside to cool.

6. Heat oven to broil. In a medium bowl, toss tomatoes with 1 tablespoons of oil, salt and pepper to taste. Transfer tomatoes to middle rack and broil until tomato skins begin to split, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and gently transfer tomatoes to a plate. Let cool for about 5 minutes and reduce the oven to 400 degrees.

7. While the tomatoes cool fill the tart with the cheeses, then the onions. Top with the tomatoes and bake, on the middle rack, for about 15 minutes.

8. Remove the tart from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. Sprinkle with chives. Serve tart warm or at room temperature. Drizzle with additional olive oil and sprinkled lightly with sea salt.

Yield: Serves 6 as a light meal or 8 as a starter.

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