Heirloom Tomato Tartlets
It’s easy to fall in love with these pretty tartlets. They look so sweet, and they taste rustic and fresh from the garden. The tart is a pâte brisée, a French pastry dough that comes together quickly and is lovely to work with — it rolls out like a dream. It also bakes up light and flaky, the perfect buttery base for the tangy, bright goat cheese filling and all those juicy tomatoes.
As a finishing touch, we drizzle a bright green herb oil — basil, parsley, and olive oil — over the top of the tarts. The drizzle has a dynamite intensity: It brings out all the heirloom tomatoes’ natural herbaceousness. And it gives the tarts a certain polish. The secret to chef-y swirls and dots? We put the herb oil in a squeeze bottle and boldly doodle away.
Heirloom tomato tartlets are the kind of appetizer you can serve anywhere. They’ll make a charming start to a sit-down dinner, a delightful appetizer with cocktails, or a light, pleasing repast for a casual afternoon glass of wine on the patio.
Our tip: This is a make-ahead recipe. The pâte brisée can be made a couple of days in advance, and the tartlets are served at room temperature. You can stir the filling together and slice the tomatoes just before serving — a few minutes of assembly, and you’ll have an Instagram-worthy appetizer to show off.
For the pâte brisée:
1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ tsp fleur de sel
¾ cups (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
2 Tbsp ice water, strained
½ tsp distilled white vinegar
For the herb oil:
3 cups basil
¾ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
For the tartlets:
All-purpose flour, for dusting
1 large egg yolk
3 Tbsp heavy cream
¾ cup fresh goat cheese, crumbled
¼ cup crème fraîche
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Fleur de sel, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 to 1 ¼ pounds small heirloom tomatoes, sliced, quartered, or halved, depending on their sizes
1 bunch chives, finely chopped
Small basil leaves, for garnish
Special tools: cheesecloth and 8 4-inch tartlet pans (or 1 9-inch tart pan)
To make the pâte brisée: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Add the butter. Scoop up the mixture in your hands and gently press the flour and butter between your fingertips until the mixture looks grainy. Work quickly to ensure the butter stays cold.
In a small bowl, whisk together the ice water and vinegar. Drizzle the mixture over the dough and use a fork to gently toss the ingredients until incorporated. Continue working the dough, gently squeezing it between your fingertips until it comes together and no dry flour is visible. Be careful not to overwork the dough.
Shape the dough into a disk. Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour or, preferably, overnight. Pâte brisée can be wrapped in a double layer of plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 2 months.
In the meantime, make the herb oil: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and prepare a bowl of ice water. Add the basil to the boiling water and blanch for about 15 seconds or until bright green.
Using a small, fine-mesh strainer, lift the basil out of the boiling water and immediately plunge it into the ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain and squeeze as much water as possible out of the leaves.
Place the basil and parsley in a blender, add the olive oil, and blend on high until the herbs and oil emulsify, about 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a glass container and let it sit for 1 to 2 hours.
Line a fine-mesh strainer with two layers of cheesecloth, and place the strainer over a glass bowl to catch any drips. Pour the herb-oil mixture into the cheesecloth, and let it drip until all of the oil has passed through.
To make the tartlets: Heat the oven to 375º.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pâte brisée to about ¼ inch thick. Cut the dough into portions slightly larger than the tartlet pans. Lay one piece of dough over one pan, and gently press it into the bottom and sides. Using a knife, cut off any dough that hangs over the side of the pan. Repeat for the remaining tartlets; if needed, combine trimmings, and roll out the dough again.
Place the tartlets in a freezer for 15 to 20 minutes.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and heavy cream. Take the tartlets out of the freezer, and use a pastry brush to lightly brush the egg wash over the dough.
Cover the tartlets with parchment paper, and fill them with pie weights or dried beans to prevent the dough from rising.
Bake for 7 to 10 minutes, or until the dough is set. Remove the parchment paper and weights, and bake for an additional 1 to 2 minutes until the edges of the tartlets are golden brown. Remove from the oven, and let cool.
In a large bowl, stir together the goat cheese, crème fraîche, olive oil, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
Remove the cooled tartlet shells from the pans, then spoon the cheese filling into them, spreading the filling evenly.
Arrange the sliced tomatoes neatly in an overlapping circular pattern, covering the filling. Arrange the quartered and halved tomatoes on top of the sliced tomatoes. Tuck the basil leaves in between the tomatoes to form a pretty pattern.
Garnish with the chives, drizzle with herb oil, and serve immediately.
Recipe adapted from: The Cook's Atelier Cookbook