Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Cherry Tomato Tart

Eating seasonally is not rocket science, because mother nature makes it easy on us (well, this month she does!). It's no coincidence that things like tomatoes and corn ripen at the same time - they taste great together. Last year I put them together in a pie. It was good, but this tart is a gazillion times more tasty, and easier too!

This simple but amazingly delicious tart has 4 main ingredients: corn, tomatoes, cheese, and crust. Roasted cherry tomatoes add such a richness to this tart that you just can't get any other way, and I've gone on and on already about my love of roasting so you know all about that.

But I don't think I'd yet appreciated the MAGIC of caramelizing. By caramelizing the corn (inspired by this recipe), you turn the sweet corn into a nutty, deep, complex flavor surprise.

The third flavor is goat cheese, or chevre. A creamy and tangy absolute delight. If you think you don't like chevre, I don't really believe you, but you can substitute ricotta cheese.

The final important ingredient in our cherry tomato tart is the shell itself. There are many options available for the shell. You could google the millions of tart shell recipes on the web and make your own from scratch, you could use a prepared pie crust, or you could do what I did and use an old leftover piece of puff pastry that you found languishing in the bottom of your deep freeze. Yum - puff pastry is super buttery and rich, perfect for a tomato tart!

Served with something green (like Quick Zucchini Saute), this is a simple but elegant and flavor-layered dinner. Cut into small pieces and served at room temperature, this could be a very impressive appetizer.

Cherry Tomato Tart with Caramelized Corn and Goat Cheese
1 puff pastry shell, thawed
2 ears leftover cooked corn, kernels removed from cob
1 small yellow onion, diced (I had 6-7 baby shallots from the Farmer's Market)
1 1/2 small logs fresh goat cheese, or chevre
1 pint cherry tomatoes

First, caramelize your corn: add 2 Tbsp butter to pan on high heat. Add corn/shallots and cook until everything in the pan begins to turn a deep brown hue. The corn may make popping sounds and it will start to smell a little like popcorn. It's done when all the corn and shallots have been tinged with a little brown color all over. Add a pinch of salt at the end.

Roll out pastry shell on lightly floured surface. Add to greased dish (I used a tart pan but cake pans or pie pans will work. You could also do a free-form tart with puff pastry). Use a rolling pin to remove excess crust.

Crumble or spread your chevre on top of your crust. Add a layer of caramelized corn. Top with cherry tomatoes - really pack them in because they'll shrink in the oven. Drizzle the top with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper.

Bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees, or until tomatoes are wrinkly and charred and crust looks golden brown.

Optional: after removing from oven, immediately sprinkle with freshly chopped or torn basil, chives, and/or thyme. I meant to do this but I forgot.

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