Dinner conversation around my table usually follows a similar pattern: Matt’s office politics, my restaurant shenanigans, and what seemingly inedible item Sammy gulped down that day. But when dinner’s really good, we bypass all that and focus on what’s really important: the food.
This tomato tart rendered both of us nearly speechless. It’s a buttery crust filled with thick tomato slices, melty fontina cheese, black olives, and caramelized onions, with a few anchovies dancing across the top. The ingredients meld together into a mess of salty-sweet pure deliciousness. It’s exactly the tart we’d eat night or day, breakfast, lunch, or dinner, hot, warm, or stone-cold. And even though I just ate the last piece, I’m already thinking of when I can make it again.
Get it? I loved it; Matt loved it; it’s a dang good tomato tart. I’ll show you how it goes together and, soon, you’ll be lovin’ it too.
Let’s build a savory tart. We’ll start by mixing dough for a tart shell. Combine flour with a few pinches of salt and a spoonful of sugar. Cut in cold cubes of butter, then add ice-cold water until it begins to hold together. Dump the bits of dough onto the counter and knead it a couple of times ’til it forms a singular mass. Press into a disk, wrap with plastic, and pop it in the oven to chill for a bit.
While the dough chills, slice a bunch of onions. Gently sauté them with a little butter and a sprinkle of salt, transforming them from raw and sharp to sweet and caramelized. It will seem like WAY too many onions when they’re raw, but trust me, after they’ve shriveled and sweetened, you’ll be glad you didn’t poo-poo my insistence on 4 whole onions.
When the tart shell is chilled and the onions have cooled down, you’re ready to assemble the tart. Sprinkle the bottom of the crust with a bit of grated Italian fontina, then spread on the onions. Add a little more cheese and cover with thick slices of tomato. Season the tomatoes with a pinch of oregano and a few twists of black pepper. Top the tomatoes with what’s left of the cheese, then scatter a handful of black olives and arrange a few anchovy fillets on top.
Don’t skip the anchovies! I promise your tart won’t taste “fishy”; they’ll melt into the filling, adding tons of depth and tying the flavors together. If you don’t like looking at anchovies (or are serving guests that might freak at the sight of them), try smearing a few dabs of anchovy paste on the bottom of the crust instead of using whole fillets. Bake your tart on a hot pizza stone, if you have one. It will help the crust bake from the bottom and prevent sogginess. If you don’t have one, you should a.) get one, they’re cheap and will pay for itself with all the money you’ll save on delivery pizza, or b.) bake your tart a few minutes longer. When the crust is golden ’round the edges, the cheese has melted, and the tomatoes are starting to collapse, pull the tart out and let it cool on a wire rack until it’s just warm or at room temperature. Waiting, waiting…it’s the part of baking that always kills me. Distract yourself by dressing a green salad and opening a bottle of wine. Sit down and enjoy your dinner. You can talk about work and doggy mischief tomorrow. Tonight’s about eating.
- FOR THE TART CRUST
- 1 c. + 2 Tbsp. All-Purpose Flour
- 2 tsp. sugar
- ¼ tsp. Salt
- ½ c. (1 stick ) Unsalted Butter, very cold & cut in ½ in. cubes
- 3-4 Tbsp. Ice-Cold Water
- TO FILL THE TART
- 4 medium Onions, thinly sliced
- 1 Tbsp. Butter
- about 4 small to medium (1½#) Red Heirloom Tomatoes (I love the super dark “Brandywine” varietal), sliced ¼ in. thick
- 4 oz. Italian Fontina Cheese, grated
- ½ c. Oil-Cured Black Olives, pitted
- 6 Anchovy Fillets, rinsed and patted dry
- a few pinches Dried Oregano
- Kosher Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- First, make the pastry for the tart crust. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor or medium bowl. Scatter the cubes of butter over the mixture and cut in until the butter resembles small pebbles. Sprinkle 3 Tbsp. cold water over the mixture and process or stir until the dough just begins to clump together. If it seems too dry, add more water, no more than 1 Tbsp. at a time, until it begins to stick together. Dump the dough clumps onto a clean countertop or board and quickly knead to form a cohesive ball of dough. Pat into a disk, wrap with plastic, and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
- Caramelize the onions. Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in a wide sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the sliced onions, season with a ½ tsp. kosher salt, and cook until dark and sweet, about 45 minutes, stirring periodically. When they are thoroughly caramelized, season with a few twists of black pepper, and allow to cool to room temperature before filling the tart shell.
- While the onions are cooking, form the tart shell. Roll the tart dough into an 11 in. circle and transfer to a 9 in. tart pan with removable bottom. I like to roll the dough on a sheet of waxed paper or parchment to allow for a smoother transition. Press the dough into the pan and even the sides. Place in the refrigerator to chill for an hour or more.
- Preheat the oven to 425°. If you have a pizza stone, preheat it to cook the tart on (this helps ensure a crisp bottom).
- Fill the tart shell. Sprinkle the chilled shell with about ⅓ of the grated fontina. Spread the onions over the cheese and top with another ⅓ of the cheese. Layer the tomato slices, shingling slightly, as needed. Sprinkle the tomatoes with a little oregano and black pepper. Top with remaining cheese, olives, and anchovies.
- Bake the tart on the hot pizza stone for 45-55 minutes, until the crust is golden and cooked through and the tomatoes are soft and tender. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before serving so the slices will hold together.