Growing up in New Jersey, I learned to associate late August with wonderful tomatoes. Jersey tomatoes. They’re great. But even though I can’t seem to get them out in Chicago, I still love to eat tomatoes this time of year. For this tomato tart, I kind of slapped together two recipes: a cheese-les tomato tart by Chuck Hughes and a focaccia by Anne Burrell.
Tomato Tart Recipe:
1. dough it: I make my usual pizza dough. The only change I made was that I added a little extra olive oil to lube the bowl as the dough rested and rose.
2. slice it: while the dough is resting, take two medium/large tomatoes and slice them thin. I sliced them thin, like a Jersey sub shop would slice their tomatoes. But not as thin as they would at a Subway.
Do the same for mushrooms. I used 10oz of baby bellas.
3. spread it: after letting the rough rise for about 30-40 minutes (I used rapid rise yeast), I poured about 2-3T of olive oil in a baking sheet to grease the pan. Then, I dumped the dough into the baking sheet and spread it out, as if making a neopolitan pizza or a focaccia, like Anne Burell makes.
4. spread it: I put on a super thin layer of dijon mustard. This, if anything, is what makes it different than a pizza. I forgot to tell my wife that I was adding the dijon, and on first bite, it freaked her out. Then, she liked it. But make sure the dijon layer is super super thin. Otherwise, it gets overpowering really fast.
5. top it: Top the dough and mustard in this order: mushrooms, pizza cheese (~8oz), and then tomatoes. The pizza cheese I used was a quattro formaggio from Trader Joe’s. Normally, I hate quattro formaggios. I mean, I love the taste, but I just find it patronizing that they think I will find the pizza cheese mix suddenly more tasty if the label is in Italian.
It is important that the tomatoes stay on top and go on last. This, if anything, is the other way in which I would consider this different than a pizza. On a pizza, the cheese goes on top of the tomatoes. On my tomato tart, I wanted more of the tomato liquid to cook out, so I didn’t want it covered by the cheese.
6. season it: I topped the tomatoes with some peppers because whenever I make a tomato sandwich, I go super heavy on the pepper. And that is good.
If I had basil, I would probably put some of that on, too.
7. bake it: 400 degrees for 20 minutes. It’s a long time, but there’s a lot of dough. And you want the tomatoes to cook for a long time so that the juices will concentrate.
8. eat it: the oil in the bottom of the pan fried the dough slightly, which it gave it a nice mix of crusty and chewy, much like pizza hut pan pizza. But unlike pizza hut pan pizza, this dough didn’t make you feel like you were going to break out with acne just by being in its proximity. The greasiness was slight and pleasant. The mustard flavors mixed with the mushrooms and imparted a savoriness that, surprisingly, wasn’t that mustard-y except in the corners of the crust, where the dijon flavor actually made the crusts a pleasure to eat.
The cheese was nice and salty, but that’s because of the mix I used. If you use just mozzarella, you don’t get the saltiness. I like pizza cheese mixes that have a large amount of provolone. One time, I found a pizza cheese mix that used smoked provolone. Now that was good.
But the star of the show, as intended, was the tomatoes. The extra long cooking time really concentrated the flavors and in such a good way. It was almost like eating sun dried tomatoes but without the raisin-y texture that I find really unappealing. I love tomatoes; they are one of my favorite things to eat. And this is definitely one of my favorite ways to eat them.
*note: this recipe is different from Chuck’s tart because I use dough instead of phyllo and because I used mustard. and this recipe is different from Anne Burrell’s focaccia because I don’t use nearly as much olive oil, although I did go heavy handed on the olive oil for every point in the recipe where olive oil was called for.