Tag Archives: pesto

Tomato Pesto Tart

Tomato Pesto TartI can’t believe it’s taken me so long to post this Tomato Pesto Tart. I’ve been thinking about it for years!Tomato Pesto TartI always intend to bake something savory during the summer, but I inevitably become consumed with berries and cherries and peaches, and before I know it, I’m cracking open a can of pumpkin. I’m in my third year as a blogger and I’m pretty sure that this is my very first savory, summery baked main course!Tomato Pesto TartThis Tomato Pesto Tart is basically everything you love about caprese salad, wrapped up in crazy-flaky Rough Puff Pastry and baked until bubbly.Tomato Pesto TartThere’s a layer of basil pestoTomato Pesto Tarta layer of torn fresh mozzarella cheese…Tomato Pesto Tartand a layer of sliced fresh tomatoes.Tomato Pesto TartI used some vine-ripened tomatoes that looked good at the green market, but feel free to use heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, or any other variety you like! Just make sure to drain them on paper towels so they don’t make the tart too wet.Tomato Pesto TartDrizzle the tart filling with olive oil and give it a good sprinkle of salt and pepper before baking for about half an hour. You’ll know it’s ready when the filling is a little bubbly and the crust is golden.Tomato Pesto TartLet the tart cool for a few minutes before slicing it up. Add a side salad and you’ve got a great weeknight meal! This would also be a good dinner party option.Tomato Pesto TartTomato Pesto TartOooh, or a garden party! I don’t have a garden, nor do I throw very many parties, but I could see this being absolutely perfect for a garden party.Tomato Pesto TartI also don’t know anyone who throws garden parties (because New York), but if you have a garden and want to throw a party in it (or if you are buddies with the garden party queen, Ina Garten) please make this tart and invite me so I can live out my Tomato Pesto Tart fantasy, okay? Okay.Tomato Pesto Tart

Tomato Pesto Tart
makes one tart, about 6-8 servings

Rough Puff Pastry:*
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
5 ounces unsalted European-style butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup water or milk, very cold

For assembly:
5-6 vine-ripe tomatoes, 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup Basil Pesto (homemade or prepared)
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, torn
1 tablespoon olive oil
freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
pinch of Kosher or sea salt, optional
1 large egg
1 teaspoon water
torn fresh basil, for garnish (optional)

Make Rough Puff Pastry. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut butter into dry ingredients until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Pour in cold water or milk and stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Turn dough out onto surface, and use your hands to pat it into a rough rectangle. Roll the dough into an 8×10″ rectangle. Fold dough in thirds, and give it one quarter turn. Roll into an 8×10″ rectangle again, fold, and turn. Repeat rolling, folding, and turning until it has been done six times total. Wrap folded dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 48 hours.

Make the tart. Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a rimmed quarter-sheet pan or jelly roll pan with parchment.

Drain tomatoes. Place tomato slices on triple-layers of paper towels. Let sit 10 minutes before gently flipping. Let sit another 5-10 minutes, or until you are ready to use them. Do not skip this step.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Unfold dough. Roll dough out to 10×14-inch rectangle. Transfer dough to the prepared pan. Trim any overhang to 1 inch. Dock center of the dough with a fork. Refrigerate for 15 minutes if dough becomes too sticky.

Spread basil pesto over the docked dough. Scatter torn mozzarella over the top. Remove tomato slices from paper towels and arrange them over the mozzarella, slicing them to fit, if necessary. Drizzle olive oil over the top and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Fold overhang over the edges of the filling. Refrigerate for 15 minutes if dough becomes too sticky.

Make an egg wash. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together egg and water. Use a pastry brush to apply egg wash over any exposed crust.

Bake 28-30 minutes, until edges are puffed and golden brown. Large bubbles may form during baking. Pop them with a fork or sharp knife, as needed.

Let tart cool completely in the pan on a rack. Use parchment to remove tart to a cutting board. Remove parchment. Scatter with torn fresh basil, if desired. Slice tart into pieces. Serve immediately.

Tart is best eaten the day it’s made, but may be refrigerated for up to three days. If stacking slices, use wax paper as a barrier.

Note:

If you do not wish to make the Rough Puff Pastry, you may use one sheet of frozen all-butter puff pastry that you have thawed according to package directions.

Tomato Pesto TartTomato Pesto Tart

Basil Pesto

 When I was growing up, my parents insisted on family dinners nearly every night of the week, no matter how late E3 and I got finished with our extracurricular activities. As we got older, dance and piano practices went later and later, meaning dinner was often pushed to after 9pm, but as soon as everyone was home, we’d all sit down and catch up over a home-cooked meal. Those thirty minutes of family time every night are some of my favorite memories of my childhood, and not just because of all the joking that went on around our round kitchen table. 

 My mom made dinner most nights. She is a good cook, although she doesn’t enjoy it the way I do. With rare exception, everything she put on the table was fantastic. Chicken divan, smothered pork chops, and corned beef were guaranteed hits with everyone, but my favorite was one of the few vegetarian meals she made: pasta with pesto, tomatoes and Parmesan. I just loved the combination of pasta, basil pesto, sweet tomatoes, and cheese. It wasn’t anything revolutionary, but it was delicious, and my mom made it often because she knew how I loved it. 

As I said, my mom is a good cook. But she isn’t always a scratch cook. She makes most things fresh, but when it comes to sauces, she usually goes for a jar. That pesto I loved so much is mass-produced. I continued to buy it into adulthood, not even imagining that I could make my own until I was well into my twenties. When I bought myself a food processor six years ago, pesto was one of the first things I made. I quickly ditched the storebought variety, and have been hooked on the homemade stuff ever since. 

 Homemade Basil Pesto is delightfully quick and easy, and has a much brighter and more intense basil flavor than anything you’ll find in the grocery store. Start by putting two cups of fresh basil leaves, 1/3 cup each of pine nuts and Parmesan cheese, and two cloves of minced garlic into a food processor. You could certainly use whole garlic cloves, but I find that mincing them ahead of time guarantees that the final product won’t have any large pieces it it. I love pesto, but I don’t love biting into big chunks of raw garlic! 

While processing the basil, pine nuts, Parmesan, and garlic, stream in a combination of olive oil and lemon juice. The olive oil is what makes the pesto saucy and rich, and the lemon adds just a touch of brightness and acidity. As the liquid ingredients whirl with the basil, pine nuts, cheese, and garlic, a thick, bright green sauce will form. All that’s left to do is blitz in some salt and pepper!

Basil Pesto is great just about anywhere you can think to use it. Try it as a sauce for pizza, serve it over grilled chicken, spread it onto a halved loaf of bread and crisp it in the oven. Seriously, this stuff is good on everything. My favorite way to eat pesto is the same as it’s always been: tossed with pasta, topped with tomatoes, and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. 

 Basil Pesto
makes about 1 cup

1/3 cup olive oil
juice of one medium lemon
2 cups basil leaves, packed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup pine nuts*
1/3 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

For Pesto Pasta:
1 lb small pasta, cooked to al dente, drained
1/2 cup reserved pasta cooking liquid
1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced in half
freshly-grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

In a measuring cup, combine olive oil and lemon juice.

Combine basil, garlic, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese in the bowl of a food processor or high-powered blender. While processing, stream olive oil-lemon mixture through the food processor’s feed tube. Process until a thick, bright green sauce forms. Add salt and pepper and process until well-distributed. Store pesto in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

To make pesto pasta, combine pasta and pesto in a large pot and fold them together with a large spoon. Add 2 tablespoons of the pasta cooking liquid and fold again. Add more cooking liquid by the tablespoon, until the desired consistency has been reached. Serve pasta in bowls. Top with halved grape tomatoes and additional Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Note:

Walnuts or unsalted sunflower seeds may be substituted for pine nuts.