My oh my, I really wanted to wait until the end of the summer to share this with you. Why so selfish? Because this summer recipe is so easy and tastes so fabulous that I am going to make it every time someone comes to my house from now until the last local tomato of the season makes an appearance at my farmers market.
I was inspired to make a tomato tart by a photo on a friend of a friend’s facebook page. Except that her lovely tart was made with goat cheese. And I hate goat cheese. Now, feel free to add a bit of it to this recipe (I would figure about 3-4 ounces mixed in with the ricotta mixture), but don’t invite me or any of my book club members for dinner. Yep, that is the glue that binds our friendship….our mutual loathing of all things goat cheese.
So, armed with a batch of local tomatoes and some locally made whole milk ricotta, I stumbled upon a recipe from Martha Stewart. The beauty of this recipe is that you don’t have to make a pastry crust, which makes this recipe so much easier. And believe it or not, the breadcrumb crust was way tastier than your average pastry crust. My gluten-free friends will be happy to know that you can use gluten-free bread to make the crust….no one will know the difference.
Martha added basil to the ricotta mixture, I opted to make a simple pesto of basil and olive oil. You can make the tart early in the day, and drizzle with the pesto just before serving. Have some fun and try this recipe using a variety of tomatoes….whatever is the freshest available at your local market. In New York, you can find some amazing heirloom tomatoes this time of year. I first chose red and green tomatoes, then on my second attempt, I used red and yellow cherry tomatoes. I am here to tell you that both tarts were equally delicious.
Makes 1 10 inch tart, serving 6-8 as an appetizer/side dish or 4 as an entree. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. This recipe calls for a 10-inch springform pan, but a 9-inch springform would work as well. You could also get by using a 10 inch round cake pan lined with parchment, but it probably won’t be as easy or pretty to unmold….but it will still taste delicious.
2 1/2 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs (about 1/3 of a baguette, cube and pulsed in food processor until crumbed) (substitute gluten-free bread if you are making the gluten-free version)
6 tablespoons (90 ml) olive oil, divided
1 1/2 cups (375 grams) whole milk ricotta cheese
2 large eggs (I used 3 because the farm stand only had medium sized)
3/4 cup (75 grams) freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic. pressed in garlic press or finely minced (do yourself a favor and buy a garlic press….cheap and makes life a lot easier–no peeling needed)
1 1/2 lbs tomatoes, thinly sliced (or halved if using cherry tomatoes)
salt and pepper
2 cups (2 handfuls) basil leaves, pureed in food processor or blender with 1/2 cup (12o ml) olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper. You will not use all of the pesto. You can use the extra on pasta, in salad dressing, drizzled over grilled meats and vegetables. Keeps 1 week in the refrigerator.
In a parchment lined 9 to 10-inch springform pan combine bread crumbs and 5 tablespoons (75 ml) olive oil.
Toss to coat, then press firmly to cover the bottom of the pan. Set aside while preparing ricotta filling.
In a small bowl, combine ricotta, parmesan, eggs, garlic, salt and pepper.
Mix well (you want eggs to be completely incorporated).
Spread over breadcrumbs. Smooth top of cheese, then arrange tomatoes on top.
Brush with 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil.
Bake in 450-degree oven 35-45 minutes, the tomatoes will dry out a bit and start to brown on a few of the edges. Take care not to over bake.
Let cool 10 minutes, then run a sharp knife around the edges to loosen, and unmold.
The edges will be dark, but taste nice and caramelized. If serving right away drizzle with simple pesto. If eating later, wait to drizzle with pesto until just before serving, as it will darken as it sits (it is okay to eat, just not as pretty).
This makes a wonderful lunch served with a green salad.
Or, for a more substantial meal, you can add a protein of your choice. We did grilled lamb sausages and an arugula salad tossed with lemon juice and olive oil.