Perfectly ripe tomatoes, cheese, and herbs are a great combination, so much so that I think I’ve done at least three recipes featuring them before. This time around, though, I decided that the combo needed revamping, because I wanted to be able to serve the tart completely cooled as well as fresh from the oven. That ruled out cheeses I’ve used in the past, like Gruyère, Cantal, or mozzarella, all of which get rubbery on cooling. Fresh cow’s or goat’s milk cheese is perfect—but because I don’t like how goat cheese dries out when exposed to the oven’s heat, I hid it under the tomatoes.
Makes eight 4 1/2-inch tarts
Eight 4 1/2-inch tart crusts made from Flaky Buttery Dough (see below)
8 ounces fresh goat cheese such as Montrachet or a domestic brand, at room temperature
1 tablespoon finely snipped fresh chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons best olive oil, divided use
2 pints/about 1 1/4 pounds grape tomatoes, rinsed, dried, and quartered
Fine sea salt to taste (see Note)
A handful of tiny top leaves of basil, or 6 large leaves, stacked and cut into thin ribbons
- Set a rack at the lowest level in the oven and preheat to 400°F.
- Use a rubber spatula to mash the cheese in a bowl, then stir in the herbs and a few grindings of pepper. Spread the cheese mixture in the bottom of the tart crusts. Drizzle each with about 1/2 teaspoon of the olive oil.
- Divide the tomatoes equally among the tarts. Grind some pepper over each.
- Bake until the crusts are deep golden and the tomatoes have softened, 30 to 40 minutes.
- If you’re serving the tarts hot, unmold to a platter, sprinkle with salt, and scatter the basil on each. To serve them cooled, wait to add the salt and basil until you’re ready to serve the tarts.
NOTE: Don’t salt the tomatoes before baking, as it draws moisture from them and might make the tarts soggy.
FLAKY BUTTERY DOUGH
Makes enough for 2 single-crusted pies or 1 double-crusted pie
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (spoon into dry-measure cup and level)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
8 ounces/2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 large eggs
- Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor; pulse several times at 1-second intervals to mix.
- Add the butter pieces and pulse again 3 or 4 times. Use a metal spatula to scrape the side of the bowl and mix the butter pieces throughout the flour.
- Pulse again 3 or 4 times.
- Using a fork, beat the eggs to break them up, and add them to the bowl. Pulse again until the dough almost forms a ball; avoid pulsing too much, or the pieces of butter needed to make the dough flaky will become too small.
- Invert the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, carefully remove the blade, and quickly press the dough together.
- Divide the dough into 2 pieces, form them into thick disks, and wrap each one in plastic. Chill the dough for a couple of hours before rolling.
PLANNING AHEAD: This dough keeps well in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.