I have been making tomato pies and tarts for quite some time now. I usually make them with fresh tomatoes, basil, onions and a mayonnaise-cheese mixture. Then, while going through a very old cookbook the other day I came across a recipe that I wanted to try, but I didn’t have enough fresh tomatoes on hand to make it, so I used a quart of jarred, canned tomatoes from the end of last summer’s crop.
The tart was so good that my husband called me on his way home from work and wanted to know if there was any left over and asked if I would re-heat it for him. Then I found him going through the fridge the next day looking for more. So, the recipe is a good one.
I modernized the recipe and made it to suit the ingredients that I had available that day, so that’s the recipe that I’ll give you. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
The pie shell is a home-made shell, and it calls for frying bacon and crumbling. I used bacon bits from the jar and with great results. If you would prefer not to make the tart shell, then by all means purchase a pie crust and roll the bacon pieces into it with a rolling- pin. It should work just fine.
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1 tablespoon bacon pieces (purchased in a small jar)
¼ teaspoon salt
Raw rice for weighing the shell
In a large bowl blend the flour, butter, shortening, bacon and salt until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add 3-4 tablespoons ice water, or enough to form dough by mixing until incorporated. Kneed the dough lightly with the heel of your hand until the fat is distributed and the dough forms a ball. Flatten the dough between two sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. When ready, roll the dough into 1/8-inch thickness and place it in a 9-inch tart pan with fluted sides.
Prick the shell with a fork and chill the shell for another 30 minutes.
In the meantime, preheat the oven to 425º. Remove the shell from the fridge and line it with a piece of foil that has been sprayed on the side that will line the shell with non-stick spray. Fill the foil lined tart shell with rice and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the rice and foil, and continue to bake the shell for another 3-5 minutes or until a light golden color. Let cool before using. Reduce the oven temperature to 350º.
4 large ripe tomatoes, sliced 1/3 inch thick or 1 quart jarred tomatoes, well-drained, and chopped small
1 ½ teaspoons salt or to taste, plus extra salt for sprinkling fresh tomatoes
Pepper to taste
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil plus more for garnish
2/3 cup whole milk ricotta
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 ½ cups grated mozzarella cheese
½ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
If you are using fresh tomatoes, sprinkle them with salt on both sides and let them drain on paper towels. If using jarred tomatoes then sprinkle lightly with salt after you have placed them in the tart.
In a bowl, add the ricotta cheese, mozzarella, Pecorino Romano, basil leaves, eggs, and the 1 ½ teaspoons of salt or to taste and pepper to taste. Mix well to combine.
If using the fresh tomatoes, pat them dry with the paper towels and place the smallest pieces on the tart shell, saving the prettiest slices for the top layer. If using the jarred tomatoes, place half of them on the tart shell. Add the cheese, basil mixture over the tomatoes. Put the remaining fresh or jarred tomatoes on top. Brush the tomatoes with olive oil. Place the tart on a baking sheet and bake at 350º, for 40-50 minutes, or until the cheese is set in the center of the tart. Transfer to a rack to cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting. Place a stem of basil in the center for garnish. Serves 6.
Spring ephemerals are some of the first plants to flower in the early spring long before most trees leaf out. They tend not to like the heat and will quickly disappear if temperatures get above 80 degrees. Spring ephemerals leaf out, bloom, go to seed, spread themselves about and then enter dormancy; they don't really die. All this happens in a two-month period, making them some of the most efficient of the flowering plants. That is what makes these plants so very special.
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