I am not a farmer. I’m pretty crap at knowing why things die, what I’m doing wrong, why half my plant is brown and the other half is green, etc. Last year, I all but neglected my tomatoes and they became like sea monsters in size and yielded dozens and dozens (if not with a little end-rot) of tomatoes. This year, I switched where they were planted and am taking better care of them and they have all tapped out at about 4 feet tall, haven’t continued to grow in height in the last month and we’ve gotten maybe four, medium-sized tomatoes and a handful of cherry tomatoes, and all of them are split down the sides (too much watering). Sigh. It’s hard to win at tomatoes. I’m sure some of you feel my pain. I want that innate sense of what these plants need, but I am afraid I’ve learned that this instinct is no instinct at all, but trial and error.
The tomatoes pictured were, indeed, from our yard. And they were, as all backyard tomatoes are, outstanding in flavor, despite their faults. I will never know how a tomato that claims to be “field grown” at the store can STILL taste like NOTHING, and a tomato you go out and pick from your yard tastes like concentrated tomato paste, x 1,000,000,000. Maybe it’s what Alton Brown said last week, that a tomato put in the fridge, even for a short time, loses a chemical designed especially for taste. Whatever the reason, tasting just ONE perfect summer tomato will leave you satisfied for the rest of the year. I don’t think I can be that enthusiastic about any other produce. Especially since I’m such a crappy farmer.
Enter: the tomato tart. Garnished with fresh, roasted, green chilies and a bit of cheddar and Parm, all baked on top of The Crust and a good slathering of green chile and caramelized onion dip. It was just about as perfect as you can get. And even if you don’t have a home-grown tomato, just go get one at a farmer’s market this weekend and DON’T refrigerate it and use that. Or, since we’re baking these tomatoes, go ahead and use a supermarket tomato. Roasting a tomato brings out great flavor in even the weakest, most genetically modified tomato. Happy baking!
1 recipe of The Ultimate Pie Crust
1/4 cup corn meal
1 cup green chile and caramelized onion dip
3-4 medium sized tomatoes (such as a Roma-size)
4 fresh roasted green chilies
salt and pepper
cheddar or Parmesan cheese, if desired
Get your pie crust rolled out and pressed into a 13×9″ tart pan, or like I did here, a half sheet pan. Trim off the excess (and you will have some) and refrigerate the pan for about 30 minutes, while you get on with everything else. Preheat oven to 450. Line the crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights – I use a bag of dried beans over and over for this purpose. I even keep them in a bag labeled “Pie Beans.” Bake the empty pie shell for 20 minutes, remove the weights and parchment and bake for another 5-10 minutes until the crust is golden on the bottom. Set aside to cool.
Whip up a quick onion/chile dip if you don’t have time to make the full recipe by pureeing 4 ounces of cream cheese, two tablespoons of olive oil, a large garlic clove, two roasted green chilies and a tsp of salt in a food processor until smooth. Spread this mixture onto the bottom of the tart. Then, sprinkle the 1/4 cup of cornmeal over the dip. This will help absorb the juices from the tomatoes and chilies so you don’t have a soggy crust.
Slice the tomatoes and chilies thin and layer onto your crust. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. I shredded up a tiny bit of leftover cheddar and Parmesan on top of mine and loved the result. I think it’d be good without it. Reduce your oven to 375 and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the tomatoes look slightly shriveled and bubbly.
Serve with a dollop of sour cream (really – it’s awesome) and enjoy!