A Woman of a Certain Age

Soon after Lilli and I came home from the hospital – it’s hard to say how long, but I had been a mommy for less than a month, a magazine arrived in the mail. On the cover was Mariska Hargitay, star of Law and Order: SVU, one of the handful of shows I regularly watch. But I set it aside, wondering why on earth Ladies’ Home Journal was being sent to my house. The next month, Tina Fey was dropped off in my mailbox. Yes, Tina Fey. So I picked up the magazine and started flipping through it. “I don’t know why I get this magazine,” I remarked to Rich. “I didn’t order a subscription, and look at this: This magazine is for mommies and women in their mid-thirties who have cats… Oh.”

tomato tart

After I got over my supreme mortification that I was now solidly in a new, ahem, mature, demographic, I started to really read the magazine. Sure, like most magazines, there are great articles and some duds, but the food section has generally been in the keeper column. In fact, the May 2013 issue (with Sela Ward – remember Sisters?) encouraging me to “Have A Tart,” did just that. They provided a very basic tart crust – get out your food processor, easy – and I’ve been using this summer’s CSA to make their various suggested versions. I am not going to share with you the Lemon Thyme Goat Cheese Tart with Summer Squash, which, I promise you, was as delicious as it sounds, but was very time-consuming. I had to blind bake the crust, and also had to get out the mixer to cream together the goat cheese, lemon zest, thyme and heavy cream.

squash and goat cheese tart

Now, then, let’s talk about the Tomato Tart. It is August, after all, and we should all be talking about tomatoes. The recipe calls for 1 ½ lbs. cherry tomatoes (a mix of orange, red, and yellow), but I simply used the pint from my CSA and added more Jarlsberg cheese. If you can’t find a farmer with fresh pints of cherry tomatoes, I would bet that the plastic containers of grape tomatoes in the supermarket will work like a charm.

Now, about the cheese: I was a little nervous about sending you out to buy a cheese, as cheeses can get expensive, and this is Cheap Beets, after all. But there was a sale on Jarlsberg at the local market last week, so I considered it a sign that I should move forward with this recipe. And, honestly, the cheese was key to this tart. I can’t imagine it with another type.

Lilli and Maggie

Oh, hello!

The basic tart crust actually makes enough for two tart crusts. When I made the squash goat cheese tart, I froze the second flattened disk, and it was fine when I returned to it a few weeks later to make this tomato tart. Because I used the doughs for two separate recipes, I did not employ the cheese and herb crust variation for the tomato tart; I actually incorporated the thyme into the onion mixture. I’ll include the directions for the crust variation here, in case you want to make this tomato tart twice, like I’m actually going to be doing this week. But if you just want a good, solid tart dough to have on-hand in your freezer, make the simple variation.

Although the dough comes together with a few whirls in the food processor, the dough still needs some time to chill, let alone the time the tart needs to bake, so it’s best to make this on a Sunday afternoon, and eat it during the week, rather than hoping to make this when you get home on a Tuesday after a long day at work. It would also be a great weekend brunch dish.

I love this recipe. I didn’t really have cravings when I was pregnant, but I did, and still do, love a good slice of pizza. The roasted cheese and tomato in the buttery crust tastes like a more mature pizza. One that might read Ladies’ Home Journal, in fact.

Tomato Tart from the May, 2013 issue of Ladies Home Journal

Basic Tart Crust  — Makes 2 single crusts

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. kosher salt

2 sticks (1 cup) very cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 egg yolk

½ cup cold water

  1. In a food processor combine the flour and salt. Add butter and pulse until butter is the size of peas. Whisk together the yolk and ½ cold water. Drizzle the liquid into the food processor while pulsing to combine. Pulse until the dough holds together when you pinch it, adding liquid as needed.
  2. Turn dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and form into a ball. Divide in half and warp each half in plastic wrap, flattening into a disk. Chill until cold or ready to use, about 30 minutes.
  3. On a floured surface roll dough until it’s 3/16 inch thick and large enough to fit in the tart pan. (Pinch edges of dough as you roll to prevent cracks and tears.) Place dough into tart pan; gently lift into place without stretching and press into pan. Use the heel of your hand or a rolling pin to trim the edges flush with the pan.

Cheese and Herb Crust Variation for Tomato Tart

Add ½ cup Jarlsberg cheese and 2 tsp. chopped fresh oregano or thyme to the food processor with the flour and salt. Proceed as directed.

Tomato Tart


1 single Basic Tart Crust dough (or cheese and herb variation)

1 Tbs. olive oil

½ small onion (1/4 cup) diced

1 large shallot, minced

1 tsp. chopped thyme

1 ½ lbs. cherry tomatoes (a mix of orange, red and yellow)

2 Tbs. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. kosher salt

½ tsp. ground black pepper

¼ cup shredded Jarlsberg

  1. Heat oven to 375F. Line a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom with the rolled-out crust. Trim edges of crust and chill in the freezer until ready to fill.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add onion, shallot, garlic and thyme and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.
  3. In a large bowl toss the tomatoes with the flour, salt, pepper and cheese. Add the cooled onion and thyme mixture and stir to combine. Fill the chilled tart shell with the tomato mixture. Transfer tart to a baking sheet and cover with foil.
  4. Bake 40 minutes, then uncover and bake 30 minutes more until crust is cooked through and tomato juices are bubbling. Cover with foil near the end of baking if tomatoes are browning. Cool tart slightly before removing the tart ring. Use a spatula to slide the tart from pan base onto a serving platter.

3 thoughts on “A Woman of a Certain Age

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