Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Savoury Crust for a Tomato-Onion Tart

I think I'm having way too much fun with KitchenParade.com's Pi Day Challenge. Today was a busy day what with running DMom to one doctor and three therapy appointments, the post office and the library. Not to mention having a recalitrant 8yo unexpectedly in tow due to a foul-up between my and DH's schedules. Yet all day, in the back of mind, I was considering the variety of pies I make and the different crusts I automatically make for each. In the case of the recipe below, I think it's easy to see why they go together. The touch of mustard and cheese in the pastry are a good fit with the tomato and onion filling.

We're grinding our own flour these days so I often make this with a full cup of whole wheat flour instead of half all-purpose and half whole wheat as listed. When doing that I make sure to use soft wheat berries suitable for pastry. Gives a nice nutty taste and makes a surprisingly filling main course. Of course, smaller, individual pies make a great first course, too.

Tomato-Onion Tart with a Wholewheat Cheese Crust

Tart filling:

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, thinly sliced
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup ricotta cheese or cottage cheese
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme OR 2 teaspoons dried thyme
3 large firm, ripe, red tomatoes, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup wholewheat flour
dash of salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup butter
cold water, as needed

Sift together flours, salt and mustard. Cut in butter and cheese with pastry blender or two table knives until pieces are the size of small peas. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of cold water at a time over dough and stir in, adding more as needed until dough leaves the side of the bowl clean. (I usually add 4 or so tablespoons but it varies with the amount of moisture in the air and flour, etc.) Place dough in a plastic bag and let rest in refrigerator for half an hour.

To prepare pie shell:

Preheat oven to 400F.

Fit pastry into regular 9" pie pan or to stay true to the recipe name, follow these directions for making a tart shell in a 8" or 9" tart pan with removable bottom:

Place sheet of dough on a lightly floured surface. Roll to a thickness of 1/8". Carefully ease dough into tart pan and gently press it into bottom and up sides of pan. Trim off all but 1" of excess dough.

Fold overhang back into pan and press firmly against sides; this will create a double layer of dough which will reinforce the sides of the shell. Line pastry shell with a double thickness of foil. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 5 to 7 minutes or until pastry is nearly done. Remove from oven. Reduce oven temperature to 325F.


Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet, add onions, and cover. Cook onions over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 20 minutes. Remove lid and cook until onions are golden and liquid has evaporated. Remove skillet from heat and set aside.

Combine eggs, Ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, garlic, nutmeg and 1 tablespoon of the thyme in a medium size bowl. Whisk until well blended.

Spread cheese mixture over dough. Spread onion mixture over cheese. Arrange tomato slices in concentric circles over onion mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Stir the remaining olive oil and thyme together and brush over tomatoes. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.

This is a good way to use up a small amount of ricotta or cottage cheese. I like to make this in the summer when tomatoes are really ripe but it's a good way to use "winter tomatoes," too. Brings out their flavor!


Alanna said...

You are a crusty-y soul, for sure! Thanks for yet another Pi Day contribution!

Tempered Woman said...

wll geesh- now you're just showing off! ;-)
I love the idea of putting mustard and parmesan in the crust- brilliant!

Lisa said...

Your crust sounds great for a savory pie. I'm sure the freshly ground flour adds a wonderful touch.

And I just love finding new recipes that call for fresh thyme!!

Happy Pi Day!

Cakelaw said...

Another lovely sounding pie - thanks!

Sarah said...

The savory crust additions sound fantastic - I'll have to remember that next time I make a quiche or savory tart!


ejm said...

What a good idea to put mustard and cheese into the pastry! We have been thinking about making quiche in the next couple of days, and we'll definitely have to grind some brown mustard seeds into the flour. I hadn't ever considered adding whole wheat flour to a savoury crust either. Brilliant.


P.S. Hmmm... I like the idea of a bit of cheese in the pastry for an apple pie too.