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It’s somewhat typical of me to throw myself into something with next to impossible standards from the get-go, which this summery tomato tart accidentally exemplifies perfectly.
Haven’t baked a savory pastry anything in ten years? Why not start with attempting both a grain free crust and a dairy free ricotta filling right outta the gate?!
And I’m not remotely sorry about it, either.
This tomato tart is well worth the effort and it’s actually not as much of a fuss as you would think, especially since you can break it down into stages. Take it a bit at a time and it’s actually a simple, soothing, pastry-based meditation on all the good things about summer.
The “ricotta” filling beneath the layers of rainbow heirloom tomatoes up top is easy to whip up and can be made a few days ahead. Raw soaked cashews are blitzed into a light & fluffy ricotta stand-in that coalesces into a curd-like finish that even the skeptical were won over by. To really amp up the summery-ness & complement the tomatoes, the filling is studded throughout with plenty of fragrant basil from the garden.
There is one little trick here that IS an extra step but can happen simultaneously with draining the ricotta through cheesecloth: salting the tomatoes ahead of time. Sprinkling the sliced tomatoes with a little salt and letting them sit for a half hour or so before patting them dry means that lots of the tomato juices are drained away rather than left to linger behind in the oven baked tart, avoiding the pitfalls of a soggy crust.
This tomato tart has everything I like to think of as summer comfort food. It’s bright and refreshing with just-roasted tomatoes, creamy and herbaceous with the rich-yet-light filling and all tumbled together in a crisp & flaky crust that makes eating fun.
It’s really the perfect summer lunch, supper or picnic food.
Find the loveliest tomatoes you can for this tomato tart recipe, because they’re absolutely the jewel in this pastry crown. Scoop up some lovely heirlooms before they’re gone!Print
Summer Tomato Tart with Basil Ricotta
Nothing says summer better than this tomato tart layered with herbed vegan ricotta and heirloom tomatoes, all wrapped in a savory grain free crust.
- Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes, including 30 minutes hands off time
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Total Time: 2 hours, including hands off time
- Yield: Serves 10 1x
- Category: make ahead, lunch
- Method: oven
For the dairy free ricotta:
- 1 1/2 cups / 220 g raw cashews, soaked 4 hours or up to overnight
- 1/2 cup / 120 ml filtered cool water, divided
- 2 tbsp / 30 ml fresh lemon juice
- 2 tbsp / 30 ml white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp / 7 g fine sea salt
For the tomato tart filling:
- 1 – 1 1/2 lbs / 454 – 680 g mixed heirloom tomatoes
- 1 large egg, about 2 tbsp / 50 ml or so
- 1/3 packed cup / 12 g fresh basil leaves, minced
- 1 tbsp / 6 g non-fortified nutritional yeast, I like this one
- 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
- 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
For the no-roll grain free crust:
WHIP: Drain the soaked cashews and rinse them, straining them through a mesh sieve to get rid of any milky liquid. Add the drained cashews to a food processor or blender, along with 1/4 cup / 60 milliliters of the water, the lemon juice, white wine vinegar and salt. Process until the cashews start to break down into curd-like pieces, then scrape down the sides of the bowl. Continue to process, adding the remaining water a little bit at a time until you have a cohesive mixture that starts to hold together with a ricotta-like texture that isn’t completely smooth, nor is it a paste. It will look a little loose at this stage.
DRAIN: Place a double layer of cheesecloth, folded into a square, so that the corners drape over the edge of a bowl. Scoop the whipped ricotta into the center of the cheesecloth, then gather up the ends and either tie together if your piece is large enough, or secure with a little kitchen twine. Hang the wrapped ricotta over the bowl so that it collects any of the liquid released. Let it drain for about 30 minutes or so, until there is very little to no liquid in the ricotta and the bowl has gathered about 3 tablespoons / 45 milliliters. Transfer the ricotta & reserved liquid to the refrigerator.
SALT: While the ricotta is draining, slice the tomatoes about 1/4 inch / 6 millimeters thick. Sprinkle them with salt and layer the slices in a bowl or colander to drain. Let the tomatoes sit and release their juices for about 30 minutes or so, until the ricotta is ready.
CUT: Set out an 11 inch / 28 centimeter tart pan with removable bottom & preheat the oven to 400 F / 205 C. Sift the cassava and tigernut flours into a mixing bowl. Slice the chilled fat into small pieces and add them to the flour. Use a pastry cutter (or, very lightly and for only a few pulses, a food processor) to cut the fat into the flour until you have a meal or breadcrumb-like texture. If the fat gets too warm, pop the bowl into the freezer for 15 minutes or so to keep it cold and prevent if from melting into the flour.
MIX: Add the ice water a little at a time, using your hands to quickly work it into the flour mixture. Keep adding water until a pastry dough starts to form that holds together when pressed, but isn’t sticky and still looks a little crumbly. Depending on your flour & kitchen, you may not need all of the water. Be careful not to overwork the dough and to keep the fat solid as you go. Add the salt and Italian seasoning and mix through lightly.
PRESS: Transfer the dough mixture to the tart pan and use your hands to press it into the bottom in an even layer. Use the heel of your hand to press the crust up the sides of the tart pan, working around in a circle until you have an even layer of crust all around. Trim the edges so that they’re level with the side of the tart pan. Pop the crust into the fridge to keep cool.
DRY: Lay out a clean dish towel on a baking sheet and spread the salted tomatoes out on it in a single layer. Pat them dry with another clean cloth on top.
SEASON: Unwrap the chilled ricotta from the cheesecloth and add it to a small mixing bowl, along with the egg. Use a fork or whisk to beat the egg into the ricotta so that you have a nicely combined mixture. Stir through the minced basil, nutritional yeast, granulated garlic and black pepper. If needed, add a splash of the reserved ricotta liquid to make the filling mixture easy to spread.
LAYER: Remove the chilled crust from the refrigerator. Spoon the seasoned ricotta mixture into the tart crust and smooth into an even layer with an offset spatula. Arrange as many of the tomato slices as can fit on top in a single, but overlapping layer. If you like, brush the tomatoes with a very light layer of olive oil.
BAKE: Place the tart on a baking sheet and slide it into the oven on the middle rack. Bake until the filling has set, the crust is golden and the tomatoes are tender & have just begun to curl & char very slightly at the edges, about 40 – 50 minutes. Allow to cool before slicing.
- You can make the ricotta up to three days in advance.
- The tart is best on the day that it is baked as the crust will begin to soften a little after a day or so in the fridge.
For a thinner crust or to fit a smaller tart pan of about 9 inch or so, reduce the crust as follows:
- 1c + 2 tbsp / 190 g cassava flour
- 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp / 65 g tigernut flour
- 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp / 135 g palm shortening or butter
- 6 – 7 tbsp ice water