Mediterranean Tomato Tart

Cooking is mostly a solitary, weeknight activity for me. At day’s end, I shut down my computer, turn on Classic FM, and start preparing dinner alone. There’s peace in the preparation, satisfaction in the finished product, and joy in sitting at the table with Andy to eat it when he comes home. But I had forgotten how much I loved cooking with friends until I had the chance to cook with my fellow food bloggers Becky of The Vintage Mixer and Sabrina of The Tomato Tart, the result of which was an impromptu “Tart Off” and this Tomato Tapenade Tart.

It started innocently. I told Sabrina that while we were together I wanted to make a tomato tart with The Tomato Tart. But we are two very different cooks and as we made a shopping list, it became clear we had very different ideas of what our tomato tart would be. While in the grocery store shopping, Becky suggested a ‘tart off’.

There’s nothing wrong with a bit of friendly competition, but not long into the so-called ‘tart off’ it became evident that neither Sabrina nor I had a competitive bone in our bodies. We were just making tarts, together on a sunny Sunday afternoon in Salt Lake City.

We spent the afternoon lovingly preparing these two tarts. Helping each other, learning from each other, taste testing and tweaking with each other. Becky called a friend to see if he’d come over and help us eat the finished products. He arrived early, with craft beer, and joined in the fun. There was music, streaming sunlight, the scent of roasting tomatoes, and the kind of ‘getting to know you’ conversation that seems to flow most easily when you’re wearing an apron, forearm-deep in flour.

I was completely in awe as I learned to make pie dough from Sabrina. She was unflappable with the unwieldy flour, butter and water mix. She had even thrown in a bit of spelt flour for good measure. I asked her how many batches of dough she had made over the years. Countless. These are the moments when I am grateful for the food community – that I don’t have to learn to make pie dough from a book, article, or video. I can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with a friend and learn.

The end product was gorgeous. Here are Sabrina’s mini galettes and my tart: same or similar ingredients, but such different results. That night we feasted on tomato tarts, salad, and local beer around a table filled with new friends and celebrated the difference of our tarts. Mine, creamy and rich. Sabrina’s, clean and bright.

For dessert, Sabrina and Becky whipped up a bowl full of vanilla ice cream streaked with homemade kefir lime-infused lemon curd and topped it with crumbled graham crackers from a local bakery. I thought to myself, how lucky am I? This food, these people, this fun. These are the summer nights dreams are made of.

Tomato Tapenade Tart

Serves 6

If you don’t have a tart pan, simply lay the rolled out dough on a baking sheet and make a free-form galette. For a crisper browner crust, bake the tart on a heated pizza stone or unglazed quarry tiles.

6 cups whole cherry tomatoes
1 large onion, halved and sliced 1/2-inch thick
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt and ground black pepper
4 ounces goat cheese
1 heaping cup grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1 medium garlic clove
2 tablespoons capers
1/2 cup each: drained ripe black olives
and pimento-stuffed salad
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 9-inch piecrust from a 14.1-ounce refrigerated box

Place cherry tomatoes and onions on a large rimmed baking sheet. Toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper. Adjust oven rack to lowest and middle position, set baking sheet on bottom rack in cold oven; set to 425 degrees and roast, stirring once, until just cooked and starting to color, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain off excess liquid and reserve for another use (very good in salad dressing!).

Mix goat cheese and 3/4 of the grated cheddar in a large bowl. Add tomato mixture; toss to mix. Adjust seasonings and cool slightly.

Meanwhile, mince garlic in a food processor. Add capers; pulse to chop. Add olives, vinegar, and oregano; pulse to chop again. Turn into a medium bowl; stir in remaining 1/4 cup olive oil.

Roll pie dough to a 14-inch circle and press into an 11-inch tart pan. Spread half of the tapenade over pastry, top with all the tomato mixture, drizzle remaining tapenade over the tart, and sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese. Bake on middle rack until bubbly and golden brown, about 20 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes, slice, and serve.