Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tomato Tarte Tatin

Last Month Melissa Clark wrote a piece for the Times about a sweet and savory tomato Tarte Tatin. Struck by its beauty and strangeness, I knew I had to make it.

At the time it was peak cherry tomato season, but I fought the urge to pop each and every one into my mouth to save up enough for the tarte. It seemed like a crime against nature not to eat them off the vine while still warm from the sun, but it seemed equally wrong to not make a t.t.t.

A Tarte Tatin is essentially an upside down tart which takes its name from a French hotel at the turn of the (last) century. Melissa adapted her recipe from Tom Colicchio's "Think Like a Chef," and I adapted mine from not having all of the ingredients on hand.

As tantalizing as the caramelized onions, olives and puff pastry sounded, I skipped them all and went for the minimalist approach. I simply popped a tart crust on top of cherry tomatoes with a splash of olive oil, salt, and fresh parsley from my first installment of a winter CSA.

While the crust was a little soggy, the flavor was outstanding. Even without the sugar and caramelized onions, the baking amplified the already powerful natural sweetness of the home grown tomatoes. Maybe one day I'll try it with caramel, but when I have amazing ingredients grown in my backyard, I prefer to let them do the talking.


Recipe: Hasty, Soggy, Delicious Tomato Tarte Tatin

Note: I'm sure it's better if you follow the real recipe, but this will do.


9 tbsp butter
1.25 cups flour (I mixed whole wheat and white)
1 egg yolk
pinch of salt


2 cups cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp coarse salt
1 handful fresh parsley
1 squirt of olive oil

Make your crust by mixing the flour(s) and salt, then add the yolk and cut in the butter. Add water until pliable but not sticky, no more than a few tablespoons. Pop it in the freezer (covered) while you assemble the filling.

Squirt olive oil into the bottom of a pie pan. Arrange the tomatoes one-deep. Sprinkle with salt and parsley.

Roll out the dough (after taking it out of the freezer) until it has become slightly wider than the pie pan. Cover the tomatoes with the dough, tucking its girth between them and the edges of the pan so as to form an inverted crust. Trim off excess, cut slashes to serve as steam vents.

Bake at 425 for about 30 minutes or until the crust has browned. Let stand until the juices have retreated, then loosen the edges of the crust with a knife, cover with a plate and flip. This should be a beautiful moment.

Serves one very hungry person, three pretty hungry people, or six.

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