If you haven't discovered the spectacular, intense flavor of organically grown, dry-farmed tomatoes, now is the time to give them a try! These tomatoes are a late summer favorite and available at the Aptos Farmers Market in mid August. The buttery herb-flavored crust of this tart is the perfect foil for the melted and slightly salty mozzarella and the sweet tomatoes. Serve with a lightly dressed spinach or mixed baby greens.
For the dough:
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
1-2 cloves garlic
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 8-10 pieces
4-5 tablespoons ice cold water
For the filling:
8 ounces low-moisture, high quality whole milk mozzarella, sliced
About 1 lb. flavorful, ripe dry farmed tomatoes, sliced*
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 - 2 tablespoons fresh basil, sliced into fine ribbons (chiffonade)
2 tablespoons Kalamata olives, pitted and quartered (optional)
Additional shredded basil leaves, garnish (optional)
* If using tomatoes other than dry farmed, slice the top off the tomato, and gently squeeze it to remove excess juice and seeds, then slice
To make the dough, combine the basil and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Process using several short pulses, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until garlic and basil are finely minced. Add the flour and salt to the bowl. Pulse briefly to combine.
Add butter chunks and pulse about 10 times, or until the mixture resembles a coarse meal with some pea sized bits.
Add 3 tablespoons of the water and pulse a few times to incorporate. Add 1 more tablespoon and process for several seconds to see if the dough forms a ball. If not, add the remaining tablespoon of water and process until a ball of dough forms.
Remove the dough, flatten into a 5-inch disc, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
When ready to assemble the tart, preheat the oven to 425°F.
Transfer chilled dough to a lightly floured work surface and roll out into a 12-inch circle. Gently transfer the dough to 9-inch round tart pan and ease it into the pan. Press dough evenly around the sides of the pan. Trim the excess dough as needed.
Lay a piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper loosely over the tart dough and fill the center with baking beads. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and carefully remove the foil or parchment and baking beads. Return the tart shell to the oven to bake for 5 minutes more. Remove from the oven.
Lower oven temperature to 375°F.
Layer the bottom of the tart shell with the sliced mozzarella. Arrange the tomato slices on top of the cheese in a single even layer. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil. Top lightly with freshly grated Parmesan and finely sliced basil leaves. Arrange Kalamata olive pieces evenly over top, if using.
Bake 15 minutes, then rotate tart 180° and wick off any excess moisture that has collected on top with a paper towel, if necessary. Continue baking another 15 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly and lightly browned in places. Allow the tart to rest at least 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
Garnish with a few shreds of fresh basil leaves, if desired.
SOURCE: Adapted from The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook by Jack Bishop