My daughter's lovely preschool teacher Brenda came by for a visit and lunch today, and I needed something yummy to offer. I didn't want to do sandwiches or other finger food, I wanted something light but elegant and not too fussy.
So I headed over to my favorite food Web site: epicurious.com, and I found this great recipe for heirloom tomato tart. It's a perfect way to use up all those end-of-season tomatoes, and the colors and explosive flavors will not fail to impress your guests! Plus, it's as easy as can be to prepare.
I purchased my heirloom tomatoes and a jar of pesto at Trader Joe's. The tomatoes come in small packages, I used 2 packages on this tart. Usually I would make my own pesto, which is really very easy to make, but I wanted something quick.
I made the crust the day before, and I put the tart together just before she arrived, so that the juice from the tomatoes wouldn't make the crust soggy. Speaking of the crust, it is very tender and breaks easily. Be careful when removing it from the pie tin, and reinforce the sides of your tart with a little bit more dough so they don't fall apart when the tart is filled.
This tart makes 6 - 8 servings, perfect with a salad for lunch or as a first course for dinner. The tart is rich with the cheese and pesto, so if you serve a dessert after make it light.
1 1/4 cups all purpost flour
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening
2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 to 4 tablespoons ice water
3/4 lb. fresh mozzarella (not unsalted), very thinly sliced
1/2 cup pesto
2 obl mixed heirloom tomatoes, sliced 3/4 inch thick
Making the pastry: Blend together flour, butter, shortening, parmesan, pepper and salt in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender (I used my food processor) until mixture resembles course meal with some pea-sized lumps. Drizzle 2 tablespoons ice water over and gently stir with a fork (or puls in food processor) until incorporated.
Gently squeeze a small handful. If it doesn't hold together without falling apart, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring (or pulsing) after each addition until incorporated, continuing to test.
Turn out the dough onto a work surface and divide into 2 portions. With the heel of your hand, smear each portion once in a forward motion to help distribute the butter and shortening. Gather both portions and pat into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for about one hour.
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface into a 12 inch round and fit into a 9 inch round tart pan with a removable rim. Roll rolling pin over the top of the pan to trim the dough flush with the rim. Lighly prick tart shell with a fork.
Line shell with foil and fill with pie weights or rice. Bake in the middle of oven for 20 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and weights and bake until golden, about 15 minutes more. Cool in pan on a rack.
Fill the tart shell: Remove the side of the pan and slide the shell onto a platter. Arrange one third of mozzarella in bottom of shell and drizzle one third of pesto over the top. Arrange one third of tomato slices, overlapping, on top of the cheese. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Repeat the same layering twice.
***Tart shell can be made one day in advance and kept at room temperature covered in plastic wrap.