Guys, people keep trying to shortchange my summer. Everyone’s looking ahead to fall, what with its new restaurants and new TV and its Pumpkin Spice everything. It’s upsetting on many levels (why are people so obsessed with a drink that basically tastes like a melted candle??), but mostly because I’m not ready to give up my warm weather adventures and rooftop shenanigans and #roséallday lifestyle.
It’s a shame that everyone’s already looking towards fall this time of year, because late summer cooking is kind of the best. I’m usually a bit tired of summer salads (delicious though they might be) by now, which is great because it’s no longer oppressively hot, so you can actually turn on the stove — or even *gasp* the oven! — without turning your apartment into a furnace. There’s a lot more creativity in cooking, and some of my favorite dishes on this blog were cooked up this time of year.
Enter this tomato tart. It grew out of two weird coincidences that I probably shouldn’t tell anyone but instead, will tell all of the Internet: 1) I walk through Union Square’s greenmarket every weekday that it happens, and while most of the time I can ignore everything, sometimes I get impossibly swayed by things like cute and colorful tomatoes and then show up to work with boxes of tomatoes for no reason; and 2) I sometimes Insta-stalk myself.
While reliving my personal history via photos, I stumbled upon a photo of my dinner at Verjus while in Paris last month (I know, I hate me too) and remembered the amazing cherry tomato galette appetizer. Sweet-tart tomatoes on a bed of even sweeter, almost jammy caramelized onions, all encased in an impossibly flaky crust — it was delicious, and probably my favorite part of the meal.
Thankfully, it wasn’t too hard to recreate — the Internet is full of tomato tart recipes, and by cobbling together one from the Pioneer Woman with some puff pastry tips from Smitten Kitchen, I was able to create something so delicious that I ate an unconscionable amount of it in one sitting.
You might want to share, like say at a Labor Day weekend get-together, and I would not blame you, because this tart is definitely a crowd-pleaser. There are a fair amount of steps, but nothing you couldn’t do with a glass of rosé in hand. It’s extra perfect al fresco, with a lightly dressed pile of greens and a gorgeous summer sunset, and don’t you dare try to talk to me about apples yet.
- 1 14-ounce frozen puff pastry, defrosted
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 2 large Vidalia onions, sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 4 heaping cups of cherry tomatoes
- leaves from 4-6 sprigs thyme, divided
- 1/2 cup finely grated Gruyere
- Preheat the oven to 375F. Line a 9-x-13 baking sheet or baking pan with parchment paper.
- Par-bake the puff pastry: Lay the thawed puff pastry on the baking sheet, and trim off any overhang. Prick the pastry with a fork (to prevent it from puffing up like crazy), then line with a second layer of parchment. Fill the baking sheet with pie weights, dried beans or uncooked rice. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the edges of the pastry are puffed and golden brown. Carefully remove the weights and the parchment.
- While the pastry is par-baking, caramelize the onions: in a large skillet, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter on low heat. Add the onions and sugar and caramelize, stirring frequently, until the onions are a deep golden brown. (You can walk away every now and then early on, but as the onions really start to take on color, you'll want to watch them like a hawk. It's a fine line between caramelized onions and burnt onions.) Transfer the caramelized onions to a plate.
- In the skillet, melt the remaining tablespoon of butter. Increase the heat to high, then add the tomatoes, the remaining teaspoon of salt and the leaves from 2-3 sprigs of thyme. Roll the tomatoes around a few times until they start to slump and burst and pick up some color.
- After a few minutes, turn off the heat and let the tomatoes cool slightly.
- Assemble the tart: sprinkle the grated Gruyere onto the par-baked puff pastry, then scatter the caramelized onions over top. Toss the tomatoes on top, then scatter the remaining leaves of thyme.
- Increase the oven heat to 425F. Bake the tart for 15-20 minutes, until the edges are browned and the tomatoes have charred slightly. Let cool for 10 minutes, then cut into squares and serve.