Thursday, August 9, 2007

Heirloom Tomato Tart with Niçoise Olive Tapenade, Mixed Field Greens, and Basil Vinaigrette

I bought some pretty, pretty (and quite tasty) heirloom tomatoes at the Takoma Park Farmers' Market:


So, naturally, I wanted to make The French Laundry's Heirloom Tomato Tart.

I plopped two of them on the cutting board and cut 6 half-inch slices out of them. I put those slices on a foil-lined, olive-oiled baking sheet, topped them with some salt, pepper, thyme leaves and olive oil, and roasted them in a 375-degree oven for about 50 minutes.


At the same time, I sliced the rest of the tomatoes into 1/8" slices, put them on a dish towel-lined baking sheet, seasoned them, drizzled a bit of olive oil, covered them in plastic wrap and put them in the refrigerator for a little over an hour

Next, I made the olive tapenade, and you know what? I'm pissed off that every freakin' time I make tapenade, I think of stupid Sandra Lee who on her show claims to "make" tapenade. First off, she pronounces it "tahm-po-nahd," which really? Are you kidding me? C'mon. Then, her narrative goes a little something like this. "Now we're gonna make some olive tahmponad. First, you take some tahmponad you bought at the regular groshry store, add some crushed almonds, stir, and wallah! You have semi-homemade tahmponad." Seriously, that drunk-ass bee-yotch can't pronounce what she's making, and then thinks that by adding almonds (which, ew) she's creating a whole new dish. And, seriously? She says "wallah" instead of "voila." So, thanks stupid Food Network for ruining any positive feelings I ever had for tapenade by keeping that social climber on the air. I know, I know... "so stop watching if she makes you this mad" -- but that's not possible. She's so snark-worthy, and really, there's no better comedy on television today. [/end rant]

Hoo-kay... where was I? Oh yeah, right. Making tapenade. No "m" in there, kids. I bought some really nice niçoise olives from Whole Foods (and say what you will about Whole Foods, their olive bar has never done me wrong), put them in a mini food processor with a wee bit of dijon mustard and some thrice-milk-soaked salt-packed anchovy fillets:


As I puréed the mixture, I slowly poured in the olive oil. Here's what the final tapenade looked like:


A little too much oil in there, huh? I followed the directions to a tee, but I think it needed less oil. It tasted great, it just looks a little greasy.

The next step was making the basil vinaigrette. Despite the 110-degree days we've been having this week, my herb garden is still doing really well, so I plucked a half-cup of basil leaves to use in the vinaigrette:


I blanched, drained and dried the basil before putting it into the food processor. I puréed the basil and slowly added in the olive oil. When it had become smooth, I turned off the food processor and let it rest in there while I finished the rest of the dish.


The final prep step involved puff pastry. If you've been following this blog for awhile, you may recall that I once had to make like 27 pounds of puff pastry dough just to have four ounces of it for this frickin' dessert dish. Boy am I glad I didn't throw all the rest of it away in disgust, and instead wrapped and froze it, because I needed some for the tomato tart. Whew. I took 16 oz. of it out of the freezer, thawed it, rolled it out into an 8x11" rectangle, and stuck it back in the freezer for about 20 minutes so it would be easier to cut.


I cut six discs (five were 3", one was 4") out of it, put them on parchment paper, topped each one with a roasted tomato slice, and baked them in a 375-degree oven for about 30 minutes:


When they were finished, it was time to plate. I added some balsamic vinegar to complete the basil vinaigrette and tossed the dressing with some baby spinach leaves. Plating went like this: center a tomato/puff pasty round in the middle of the plate, top with three cold tomato slices, add a small spoonful of tapenade, top that with some of the greens, then drizzle on a little bit more vinaigrette. Here's the final result:


It tasted even better than it looked. My favorite food in the late summertime is corn on the cob with homemade tarragon butter. I think this tomato tart is running a very close second. Might even be tied for first. The flavor and temperature contrast of the tomatoes was lovely. The puff pasty had absorbed enough of the juices from the tomato, that combined with the butter in the pastry, was a delight. The basil vinaigrette was a winner, and the tapenade just pulled the whole thing together to make it a truly outstanding dish. The adults LOVED this one, and the kids? Not so much. One of the kids is a big-time tomato fan, so he was happy to eat the tomatoes and nothing else. I was happy to spread the tapenade on his leftover puff pastry and devour that.

I'd make this again, for sure, and would adapt it to make a larger tart that could be cut into squares for serving, just to make the overall prep a little easier. I wouldn't swap out the heirloom tomatoes for another kind, that's for sure. Heirloom tomatoes are my favorite varietal, and they made this dish sing. After the Great Cauliflower and Oyster Debacle of 2007, I was beyond pleased that this dish was such a hit. You know what? People can dispute the Barry Bonds homerun record all they want... as far as I'm concerned, Thomas Keller holds the only homerun record I care about.

Up Next: Pickled Oysters with English Cucumber "Capellini" and Dill

Resources:
Heirloom tomatoes from Glenville Hollow Farms
Antica Italia olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Thyme and basil from my garden
Bellino anchovies
Niçoise olives and baby spinach from Whole Foods
Grey Poupon dijon mustard

Music to Cook By: Under the Influence of Giants; debut album. If Coldplay didn't suck, they'd be these guys.


16 comments:

Pastrymann said...

Hi Carol:
I believed for the longest time that Sandra Lee was a comic, as I laugh at her any time I see this poor soul on the food channel. Clever post on the tom tart...

Conor said...

If Coldplay didn't suck, they'd be Radiohead.

Looks delicious--and those basil leaves are gorgeous! What's your secret?

french tart said...

i'm going to have to make this. tomatoes are my favorite food ever, and especially heirloom tomatoes. although methinks i'll save my sanity by buying frozen boxed puff pastry. i commend you highly for making it yourself previously, but damn. that's kinda insane!

sandra lee: annoying as hell. also, she needs a good support bra.

andrea_lynn27 said...

Oh, I can't wait to try this! And, thank you, for making me actually use my FL cookbook, rather than just drool over the pictures.
P.S. How does Sandra Lee even stay on the air?

Sarah said...

I had forgotten you had made the puff pastry, my hats off to you for that. This sounds and looks lovely, I will have to give it a go, but alas will have to make something else for my fiancee, I love tomatoes, he HATES them!! And I mean that in the capital sense;)

JoP in Omaha said...

Diner Girl, I hope the rest of your life is going as handsomely as your FL endeavor is. Thanks for keeping the FL blog coming. I love each and every new post.

I've been playing around in Richard's Happy in the Kitchen and a couple of CIA cookbooks, but maybe this weekend, I'll do another from FL. Isn't it amazing how really EASY so many of the recipes are? What a joy it is to get great results.

jop

stephanie said...

Mwhahahahahahah at the Sandra Lee snark! Totally love it!! (Except, why did it keep reminding me of tampons??)

Those tarts look absolutely delish! I'm quite jealous right now.

Anonymous said...

Delish....Eeewww shades of Rachael Ray

lucette said...

I think I might adapt this to pizza tonight--I've got all the ingredients except the puff pastry, and I've got frozen pizza dough from the last batch I made.

bookwoman said...

You had me at the picture of the tomatoes! Oh, this is getting made sometime this week.
And you can add another voice to the "Sandra Lee is snarkworthy" chorus. I can't even watch it to mock it.

claudia said...

this looks look like a huge winner and i am sure it tastes much more impressive than it looks - plus i trust you implicitly after all we've meant to each other even if i do love oysters although i'm not a big fan of pickled things myself... again - my proverbial hat goes off to you that you take these recipes on. all the steps... i mean i cook all the time but just not even close to this kind of prep. i realize that's what keller and this project is all about. taking the time to achieve greatness. so i am enjoying this vicariously through you - and i'm lovin the ride. rock on which yo bad self...

John said...

you rawk.
Me thinks you are "running in the red" with all your snarky Sandra Lee comments.

Keep them coming.
Keep being yourself.

rob said...

Love it! Food Network Canada does not, mercifully, air Sandra Lee's show, but we were in New York this past weekend and saw it for the first time. The food is such crap, but it's captivating crap, isn't it? I was horrified to watch her cook with herbs by whipping out a container of store bought basil pesto!?! Good God, what has become of the Food Network?

Angela said...

Decidedly the best-ever summary of Sandra Lee. In my home she's called Boobs McGee.

PS gorgeous recipe that I will try.

PPS I am ADDICTED to your blog.

sundevilpeg said...

Just one quibble regarding this entry: heirloom tomatoes are not "...(a) varietal." Each variety of tomato - Brandywine, Green Zebra, Mortgage Lifter, Cherokee Purple - is genetically discrete, just like any other variety of fruit (or vegetable). Can't lump 'em together like that - heck, some, like Green Zebra, can't even really be called heirlooms, strictly speaking - that variety has only been around for maybe 3-4 decades, not the customary 100 year mark that is used as an arbitrary cutoff point.

Other than that, good work. I've visited the Takoma Park farmers market myself, and it's a very good source of really nice stuff, almost as good as mine here in Evanston, IL. Almost. ;o)

See ya at TWoP!

Anonymous said...

I shudder every time I hear Sandra Lee mangle the language on what is supposed to be food-centric television. For the record, tamponade is a medical term that means (roughly) the compression of something by a foreign body -- usually a foreign body whose function is to stop bleeding. Yes, this is why they're called tampons. And even Sandra Lee is probably not making them on the Food Network.