The best summer tart you’ve ever had may also be the simplest
The flavors in this elegant summer tart are straightforward: Comté (the astoundingly flavorful raw-milk cheese from Jura), tomatoes and cracked pepper… lots of cracked pepper! Ingredient-wise, this is definitely a case of “less is more”: The tart highlights the cheese’s amazing richness, the tomatoes’ natural sweetness and the black pepper’s crunchy heat – and it’s all encased in the most crumbly tart crust you can imagine. Needless to say, the tart is best made when tomatoes are at their most flavorful, from mid-summer until early fall.
“Not your boring old quiche!”
Although the tart looks beautiful (and a bit less conventional) in a square mold, I’ve also provided instructions for using a round mold.
Simple, elegant and luxurious… as my husband Marc said when he first tasted it, “This is not your boring old quiche!”
Food & wine pairing: Jura, Poulsard or Trousseau with tomato and Comté tart
Since Comté is the trademark cheese of the Jura region in France, why not pair this tart with a wine from Jura, too? And Jura makes some very interesting (albeit lesser known) reds. Try a Poulsard or a Trousseau – both wines are medium-bodied, pale and perfumed, but filled with fresh fruit (and sometimes gamey notes) and a hint of peppercorn in the finish. They are superb with this tart. Alternatively, pour a Burgundy-style Pinot Noir or a Bardolino from Verona, Italy.
Tomato tart with Comté & cracked black pepper
makes 1 large tart or serves 4 to 6
active time: 1 hr (includes making the tart shell)
- 1 recipe Parmesan tart crust (made with walnuts instead of pine nuts/almonds) – baked blind into a 9″ x 9″ square tart shell (for a 10″ round tart shell, see Viviane’s tip)
- 2 large ripe (but firm) beefsteak tomatoes
- 1 extra large egg
- 3 extra large egg yolks
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 8 oz (225 g) Comté – coarsely grated (aged Gruyère is a good substitute) (2 1/2 cups loosely packed)
- sea salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon coarsely cracked Tellicherry black peppercorns
- Preheat oven to 375ºF (190ºC).
- Step 1: Make this tart shell recipe using a 9″ x 9″ square mold, but replace the pine nuts/almonds with walnut pieces. Shape the dough in a 3 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ x 1 1/2″ square. Cover and refrigerate as per the instructions, then roll the dough into an 11″ x 11″ square and proceed with the recipe. While the tart shell is baking, prepare the tomatoes and the custard.
- Step 2: Using a mandoline, cut the tomatoes crosswise in 10 slices, 1/4″ thick. (You’ll only use 1 1/2 tomatoes.) Alternatively, you can use a very sharp knife – but try to cut the tomato slices as evenly as you can. Place the slices in a single layer on paper towels and top with another paper towel. Lightly press with your hand, so that the paper towel is in contact with the whole surface of the tomato slices, and let stand for 15 minutes. (This will blot out some of the moisture.)
- Step 3: Place the egg and eggs yolks in a medium bowl and lightly whisk. Add the cream, milk and salt and whisk again until well blended. Set aside. When the tart shell is baked and has slightly cooled, spread the grated cheese into it. Top with the tomatoes, arranging the slices in two rows (5 slices per row) and slightly overlapping them. Drizzle with the custard and press the tomato slices slightly into the filling. Sprinkle with the sea salt and cracked black pepper and bake for 40 to 45 minutes until puffed up and golden. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes before un-molding and serving. The tart is best served warm, not hot.
- Cook’s note: The tart can be made up to 4 hours ahead and kept at room temperature. To serve, reheat the tart in a 375ºF (190ºC) oven for 6 to 8 minutes until just warm. Refrigerating the tart will make the dough soggy.
- If you’re using a 10″ round mold to make this tart, arrange the tomato slices in a circle, overlapping the slices, as below.