Summer Appetizer: Bite-Size Tomato Tarts on a Parmesan Crust
Here’s a new twist on an old favorite, turning this lovely 101 Cookbooks tomato tart into little tomato tart canapés. Don’t worry, I didn’t mess with that perfectly buttery, cheesy crust. Oh no. I just baked it in a flat rectangle instead of in a tart pan, then cut the still-warm crust into bite-size squares. I used ripe cherry tomato slices to fit the diminutive bites, then topped it all with fresh basil, a drizzle of olive oil, and a generous grind of black pepper.
A mini replica of the original. (Which makes a fantastic dinner, by the way, the original. Add a light salad.)
Pretty, right? Easy too. And so damn delicious, you’ll be a little bit blown away. The contrast of soft, ripe tomato bursting through the shatteringly crisp crust is just…whoa.
Expensive tasting (but not expensive).
Especially since you can make the crust ahead (yes!) and salt and dry the tomatoes in advance too.
Quickly assemble them right before your guests arrive. Eat a couple while they ring your doorbell. Don’t forget to wipe your mouth! You’re golden.
(Those are skin-on marcona almonds above, by the way. I snagged them in the Whole Foods cheese section and you should too. The toasted skin adds another addictive layer of salty, oily crunch and nuttiness. Good.)
Bite-Size Tomato Tarts on a Parmesan Crust
Slightly adapted from a recipe by Heidi Swanson on www.101cookbooks.com
1 pint in-season, ripe cherry tomatoes (great tasting!), cut into thick slices
1 tsp. fine-grain sea salt
1/2 c. butter, well chilled + cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
4-oz. chunk of good fresh Parmesan, microplane-grated (you should end up with about 2 cups loosely packed grated cheese. Save any leftover grated cheese for sprinkling on the crusts when they come out of the oven)
2 Tbsp. ice cold water
2 Tbsp. best quality extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c. slivered basil
freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Prep the tomatoes:
To avoid a soggy crust later on, you need to rid the tomatoes of some of their liquid. Clear a space on your counter and put down a double layer of absorbent paper towels. Place the tomatoes in a single layer on the paper towels and sprinkle them with about 1 tsp. fine-grained sea salt. Top the tomatoes with another layer of paper towels and press gently. Let the tomatoes sit until you are ready to use them.
Make the tart crust(s):
Place the butter, both flours, and Parmesan in a food processor and pulse quickly about 25 times. You are looking for a sandy textured blend, punctuated with pea-sized pieces of butter. With a few more pulses, blend in the 2 Tbsp. of ice water. The dough should stick together when your pinch it between two fingers. Pour the dough onto the baking sheet. Working quickly, press the dough uniformly into a 1/4-inch thick rectangle. Place in the refrigerator and chill for 15 minutes.
Bake the tart crust:
Pull the crust out of the refrigerator and poke several times with the tongs of a fork. Cover the tart with aluminum foil and cover generously with pie weights, or alternatively, lay a second baking sheet on top of the foil. Slide the crust onto the middle rack in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, pull the shell out of the oven and remove the pie weights or second baking sheet, then gently peel back the tinfoil. Place the uncovered tart back in the oven, weight free, and allow to cook for another 10 minutes, or until it is a deep golden brown in color. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with a little shredded Parmesan (this will act as another barrier to the tomato liquid). Using a pizza cutter, cut the still-warm (and therefore slightly soft and easier to cut) crust into bite-size squares. Place the pan on a rack and let cool to room temperature before filling.
Assembling the tarts:
Just before serving, arrange two tomato slices on each square. Drizzle with your best quality extra-virgin olive oil, and sprinkle with the slivered basil. Grind black pepper over the bites. Serve at room temperature.
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