I had some help with this recipe. Help in the form of 7 apron clad culinary students at Sociedad Latina’s summer program. The self-titled “Kitchen Devils,” we’ve had quite the summer so far – homemade pasta, basil pesto, watermelon lemonade, panzanella, chocolate pudding, and so much more. Today we made a summery and savory tart with green tomatoes from my yard. It was part of our week’s worth of “cooking challenges,” (I’ve been told I am like a “nicer Gordon Ramsey”) where the kitchen was turned over from the teacher to the students. Working in groups, the students were judged on their communication and teamwork, their supportive attitudes, following the recipe, and having a plan.
What’s at stake? Besides the obvious fame and glory, winning teams usually get to pick the next class’ recipe, but today I promised something new: a feature on Simmer. There’s been a clear champion every class so far, but today we ran into trouble. Both teams exceeded our expectations and in the end, we declared it a tie. So, congratulations Miguel, Issiah, Shanelis, Princess, Luis, Ashley, and Mileiby on some serious kitchen skills.
The recipe here is an adaptation of your basic quiche – perfectly balanced; the buttery tart dough holds salty and crunchy bacon, tart and juicy tomatoes, and creamy custard filling. This is a versatile little tart – substantial enough for summer supper with a green salad on the side, or serve it up for Sunday brunch. Either way, as my class would say, “it will drive your taste buds crazy!”
Green tomatoes, the fried Southern favorite, are admittedly a little hard to come by if you aren’t lucky enough to have your own plants. Not to worry though, these little tarts would be just peachy (er, tomato-y) with ripe tomatoes instead. If you are growing your own tomatoes, it’s that time of year when all that ripe bounty lies just out of sight – we’ve picked a few red (and yellow, and green, and striped) tomatoes ripe for eating, but most are hard and still green. Cooking up some green tomatoes – dredged in egg and flour and lightly fried or, ahem, baked into this tasty little tart – is a great way to get a head start on the season. Makes twelve 3 inch tarts or two 9 inch tarts.
For the Tarts
1 recipe flakey tart dough (here)
2 large or 4 small green tomatoes (un- or under-ripe tomatoes), thinly sliced
8-10 strips of bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 cups grated gouda (we used Parano; Gruyere would also work)
8-10 stems of fresh thyme, leaves removed (about 2 tsp leaves)
8 large eggs
1 cup half and half
Salt and pepper
Prepare the Tart Shells:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Divide the dough into 2 pieces and keep one refrigerated while you work with the other. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough into a rectangle about 12 inches wide and 7-8 inches high. Cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (3 across and 2 down.) Place each piece into a 3 inch tart tin and trim the edges slightly. Press and fold the dough into the pans. Set the dough lined tart tins in the fridge and repeat with the remaining half of the dough. Bake the tart shells for 20-30 minutes until golden brown and set. After the first 15 minutes of baking, remove from the oven and poke with a fork to release any bubbles that have formed on the bottom. [Alternatively, you can bake the crusts in two 9 inch tart tins – for the large tins, roll each half of the dough into a circle approximately 12 inches in diameter and press/fold it into the pan. Bake 40-45 minutes.] Once cooked, remove the tart shells from the oven and set aside to cool.
Assemble the Tarts:
Set a medium skillet over medium-high heat and add the bacon. Fry until crispy, 3-5 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels.
Whisk together the eggs, cream, and salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Place the baked tart shells on a 2 sheet pans lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle a little cooked bacon on the bottom of each tart, place 2-3 slices of tomato on top, sprinkle on a little thyme, and then top with some grated cheese. Pour over the egg custard mixture until it comes just below the top edge of the tart.
Bake for 25-30 minutes until set and slightly golden. To test for doneness, gently shake the pan from side to side – the filling should not giggle.
Cool a few minutes and then serve warm or at room temperature.