Thursday, December 3, 2009
When Caramel and Tomatoes Get Together, Beautiful Savory Tarts Are Born
In edible chemistry news this week, the Tomato Federation sent a delegate to the people of Caramel on Tuesday. The aim of this mission was to help these two cultures better understand one other thru an exchange of good will - therefore ending a centuries-long feud between their nations. The good citizens of Onion and Rosemary were kind enough to mediate this meeting, and reported this momentous occasion a great success.
As a symbol of their newly forged peace, the nations created a tart... a tart so delectable that one might wonder if tomato and caramel have stayed apart this long in order to preserve us humans from the catastrophic possibility of tearing apart our own society - battling each other for just another slice of this heavenly invention. What the future holds for these two races is hard to say, but one thing is clear... it's a little brighter now.
So, OK, a while back I read an article in the New York Times about a caramelized tomato tart Tatin. I'm not normally the sort of person that likes major collides between sweet and savory (I mean, the bread and butter pickle is gross, come on), but I was intrigued by this recipe. Maybe it was just the high praise Melissa Clark had for this dish, and her mouthwatering descriptive powers, but I couldn't get this notion out of my mind. Tomato and caramel... caramel and tomatoes...
So here's my own version of this lovely dish. I've made a few key changes for the sake of something different - this is not a Tatin, as there is no puff pastry dough, but instead a pâte brisée dough - the sort used for traditional savory, flaky tart crusts. The recipe for the crust can be found at very talented Erika the Pastry Chef at Home's website. I laced in some fresh rosemary during the incorporation of the butter step, but if you're using a store bought crust, you can leave it out or add it to the bottom of the shell when you're filling it. I like both versions of this tart, but the pâte brisée version has a nice flakiness to play off the juicy tomatoes that I love. I also take out the step of the separate caramel sauce prep and create the sauce with the onions in the pan (since my version isn't inverted for baking).
Please don't let the idea of the caramelizing throw you off on this one, it's not a cloying-ly sweet dish whatsoever - if it were, I would not like it. Instead, the caramel lends a pleasant, binding gooey-ness to a lovely toothsome filling. I hope you enjoy it - just not too much, we don't want to start any civil wars over a tart...
Recipe: Caramelized Tomato Onion Tart with Rosemary Crust
What to get (adapted from this recipe)
1 premade pie crust, or use the recipe found here to make your own and add 1 TB fresh chopped rosemary
1 pound of cherry or grape tomatoes (I used the mini heirloom tomatoes from Trader Joe's)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 red onions, sliced thin
1/3 cup of white sugar
1/2 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh minced thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional add ins:
1 cup crumbled goat cheese
1/4 cup pitted, chopped Kalamata olives
What to do with it all...
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees
Shape your pie crust to a 9 inch tart pan and refrigerate, covered, until ready to fill
In a medium skillet, heat your butter and add onions and salt and pepper to taste - cook on low for 15 - 20 minutes, or until translucent
Stir in sugar and vinegar and thyme and allow to dissolve, stirring
Cook on low until bubbling
Remove your tart crust from refrigerator and add your whole tomatoes - also olives/cheese if you choose to use these
Top with onion/caramel mixture and bake in oven for 25 mins, or until crust is browned and tomatoes are softened and caramelized by the sugars
Thanks for reading and please vote for my Vietnamese Moo Shu Recipe over at Foodista!