The tomato tart is a classic summer dish. It stands alone as a great appetizer, makes a light brunch with an egg on top, or supports the lead as a charming side dish with grilled chicken or seafood. It has a surprise ingredient of cinnamon — borrowed from the dishes in the Mediterranean — that works to bring together the briny feta and rich tang of cream cheese into one glorious homage to tomatoes that you can pull together in just 15 minutes.
Let Salt Do the Heavy Lifting
The trick in this recipe is getting the tomatoes to drain enough so the tart does not collapse into a soggy mess. Just make sure to pat the tomato slices well — really well — on both sides, to absorb as much excess liquid as you possibly can without squashing or mashing them before they're added to the tart.
Beefsteaks, heirlooms, green, yellow, or striated, and hothouse tomatoes all work in this tart. Save the slightly mushy tomatoes for sauce. Since the tomatoes are raw, make sure to pick tomatoes that are ripe but still very firm.
Your Fast Tomato Fix
Tomato season is here today and gone tomorrow so we're making sure to get our fill with recipes that come together to show off tomatoes of every shape, size, and color as fast as possible. The five recipes in this series showcases the recipes that will help you get your tomato fix in as little as one minute flat!
15-Minute Fresh Tomato and Feta Tart
large heirloom or beefsteak tomatoes (about 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 pounds total)
frozen puff pastry (about 12 ounces), thawed according to the package directions and refrigerated
cream cheese (4 ounces)
garlic, peeled and grated
Leaves of 4 sprigs fresh oregano or marjoram, minced
Leaves of 4 sprigs fresh thyme, minced
coarsely ground black pepper
ground cinnamon (optional)
heavy cream or plain yogurt if you like it tart
crumbled feta cheese, drained
extra-virgin olive oil, preferably Greek
Line a large platter or two with 6 or 7 paper towels each. Slice the tomatoes into 1/2-inch-thick slices, place them on the paper towels, and sprinkle with the salt. Set aside.
Meanwhile, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 425°F. Line 1 rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray and set aside. Spray the underside of a second rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside, upside down.
While the tomatoes are draining, place the chilled puff pastry on the first baking sheet (lined on the inside with parchment or sprayed on the inside) and unfold it gently. Make sure to work quickly so the pastry stays cold. If at any time the dough feels soft, place in the freezer for 2 to 3 minutes until chilled again and firm. Thoroughly poke the dough evenly with the tip of a sharp small knife, about 48 times.
Completely cover the puff pastry with a sheet of parchment paper. Place the second prepared baking sheet (sprayed on the underside) on top of the parchment paper, spray-side down. Bake until the pastry turns a pale brown on the edges, 10 to 12 minutes.
Remove the top baking sheet. Bake until golden-brown and crisp on top, being careful not to overbake, 3 to 5 minutes more. Set the pastry aside to cool while you make the feta spread.
Place the cream cheese, garlic, oregano, thyme, pepper, and cinnamon, if using, in a medium bowl. Using a handheld mixer, mix on medium speed until combined. Add the cream and mix until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the feta and mix until creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Spread this mixture evenly on the tart crust.
Gently pat the tomatoes well with dry paper towels. Top the cheese mixture with the tomatoes salted-side down, arranging them in a single layer. The pastry will deflate somewhat. Drizzle over oil. Cut into pieces and serve immediately. This tart is best eaten the same day it is made.
Puff pastry: I am a believer in using butter-based puff pastry unless you need another version to meet a dietary need or you have no other available. Although most of the butter-based brands are sold one sheet to a box, they come in various sizes. If you buy a brand with 2 small sheets to a box, line them up as close to each other as possible on the oiled baking sheet and cut them to make one 9x12-inch rectangle. (On the negative side, the tart will really be two pieces and will not fuse together when baking. On the positive side, this will make it easy to serve without making too many cuts or breaking the pretty dough.)
Cheese spread: This mixture can be made up to 3 days in advance and refrigerated in a covered container.
- Food styling by Barrett Washburne