Tomatoes and peppers and onions oh my! Late summer vegetables are in full swing. But at this point in the summer, I’ve had about 9 million tomato salads and I’m ready to put them to more inventive uses. That means tarts and jams and sauces are entering the picture.
A free form tart like this one is tailor made for those who normally run screaming from the thought of flouring surfaces and rolling out dough. I promise you, this is so much easier to make than its impressive finish would suggest. Unless you are of a mind to make your puff pastry from scratch (and I tell you that lesson in culinary school still gives me cold sweats), making free form tarts from store-bought frozen puff is a great option.
This combination of chocolate cherry tomatoes, pretty little yellow tomatoes, sweet red bell pepper, and even sweeter red onions is a combo made in heaven. On top of all that sweetness, I lightly caramelize everything by cooking the vegetables down with a couple teaspoons of sugar and some syrupy white balsamic vinegar. The essence of summer never tasted so good.
Serves 4 as an appetizer
Flour, for dusting surface
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 pint chocolate cherry tomatoes, halved if small, quartered if large
1/2 pint yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
Fresh basil leaves, for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- On a piece of parchment paper that has been lightly dusted with flour, roll out the puff pastry to a 10 x 12-inch rectangle. Fold in the edges to make a 1/2 inch border all the way around, pressing down so that they adhere to the dough. Transfer to a rimmed baking tray large enough to hold the dough. Place another piece of parchment over top and pour over blind baking beans to weigh down the dough. (If you do not own blind baking beans, you can pour over real dried beans (not canned!) to weigh down the pastry.) Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and take off the top piece of parchment and the baking beans. Push the pastry down in the places that it has bubbled up and risen. Brush all over with the beaten egg. This will make your crust shiny and will help it brown nicely all over.
- Meanwhile, in a medium frying pan, heat the butter and oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring, about 8 minutes, until softened. Add the tomatoes, sugar, and vinegar and cook 2 more minutes, to cook down the vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (This step can be done in advance. If the topping has been refrigerated, bring to room temperature before placing on the pastry.)
- Spoon the tomato topping onto the pre-baked pastry and return to the oven. Cook for about 10 minutes, until puffed and golden. Sprinkle with basil leaves and serve.
Nutritional analysis for 4 servings:
Calories 154, Fat 10g, Sodium 53mg, Carbohydrate 13g, Fiber 2g, Sugar 5g, Protein 4g