I’ve been thinking about tomatoes ever since that touch of heat we got back in February. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about tomato tarts. As climate change and Northwest weather would have it, our summer arrived later than usual which means tomatoes are just now starting to show at the markets. However, I have to confess that my weakness for heirloom tomatoes means I’ve been buying tomatoes shipped up from California. I know, I know, but the way I look at it, the little organic farms in California need our support too, right?
I don’t know if any of you have ever eaten an heirloom tomato, if you haven’t, it will change everything. Heirlooms have an earthy, subtle flavor. They don’t offer that bright sweetness that you get with your standard tomatoes. They are meatier, to be sure, rustic and understated. It’s best not to doctor heirlooms up too much or you risk losing their soft flavor. Eat them as is or sliced with a splash of balsamic vinegar and a pinch of coarse sea salt sprinkled on top.
This is my first time working with phyllo dough. I thought it would be much more difficult than it was. Working with phyllo is, however, time-consuming. So be prepared to do some gentle humming to yourself as you handle each sheet.
What you’ll need:
1 lb-about 20 sheets of phyllo dough. (Usually found in the freezer section near pie crust and the like)
4-5 large heirloom tomatoes or standard tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 shallot, thinly sliced
Handful of pitted green olives, sliced
2-3 handfuls chopped pancetta (If you don’t have pancetta, bacon or chicken will do. Or make it vegetarian)
3-4 sprigs of rosemary
Salt and Pepper to taste
Coarse sea salt to finish
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil and brush a little olive oil on it.
Gently lay a sheet of phyllo dough on parchment paper and brush with olive oil.
Sprinkle sheet with a few chopped or torn rosemary leaves.
Continue placing each sheet of phyllo on top of the previous and brush each with olive oil. Sprinkle rosemary on every 5 sheets or so.
When finished with all of the sheets, place sliced tomatoes on phyllo, followed by shallots, pancetta and green olives.
Use a fork or your hands to crumble ricotta salata over tart.
Sprinkle whole or chopped rosemary leaves.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Drizzle with olive oil.
When all the ingredients are layered on your tart, gently fold up the sides and corners of the phyllo and give it a final brush of olive oil.
Place in pre-heated 325 degree oven for about 15 minutes then turn heat up to 425 for 10-15 minutes. Periodically check the dough for coloring. If it is dark golden and flakey then it is ready. If it is still fairly pale, then it needs a few more minutes.
Let cool and finish with a sprinkling of coarse sea salt. Use a pizza cutter or knife to cut. Phyllo is super flakey and you may need a large plate (or the sink) to catch all of the flakes!
Serve with an arugula salad and a dry red.