Provençal tomato tart


Wow this was good! Steve and I enjoyed this freshly baked, slightly warm tomato tart along with grilled chicken and fresh green beans. A delicious late summer meal.

Since tomatoes are out in FORCE right now I decided to make this Provençal tart, ramping up the cheese to include both Swiss cave-aged gruyère and a crumbling type chevre from Pélussin France, located in the Loire department just south of Lyon. Once again, thanks to The Cheese Lady here in Grand Rapids MI for a great selection of cheeses.


This tart is one of those things that you can play around with, changing up the herbs, the cheese, the amount of mustard, even the size and type of tomato. It’s a simple approach - a blind-baked pâte brisée crust, a schmear of Dijon mustard and a layer of grated cheese all topped with slices of garden fresh tomatoes seasoned with a little salt, pepper and your choice of herbs. I added some dabs of goat cheese on top just to give it that certain something. Then it all goes into the oven.

Let’s go through the steps OK?

First line the tart pan with tasty pâte brisée.


Once lined and pricked all over with my trusty fork, I place the tart pan on a parchment lined sheet pan and freeze it for 15-20 minutes while heating the oven to 425ºF. Once firm, it makes it much easier to line it with a round of parchment and fill it with dried beans for blind baking.


Now bake it on the lower rack for 10 minutes, turn the heat down to 400º, move it up to the middle rack and give it another 5 minutes. Take it out of the oven and remove the weights. The crust should be starting to set although the bottom will be a bit moist and doughy and will need a bit more baking to finish it off.

Pop it back into the oven without the weights and give it another 5-10 minutes until golden brown. I often decrease my oven temp to 375 for this step and, as usual, keep on eye on what’s happening in there.


Decrease the oven temp to 350º. While the crust cools, thinly slice 2-3 fresh, ripe medium tomatoes, grate up a cup (about 4 ounces) of gruyère and have some Dijon mustard at the ready. I like to blend some regular Dijon with a nice coarse grainy mustard, 2-3 tablespoons total. Maille is a great brand and, if you’re in Paris, you can visit their wonderful shop right near Place de la Madeleine.

Spread a thin layer of mustard over the bottom of the cooled crust. I used 2 tablespoons since I like a more subtle mustard flavor, but you can certainly use more if you wish!


Sprinkle the grated gruyère over it.


Arrange your tomatoes in concentric circles, overlapping each slice. I also tucked in some halved orange and dark red cherry tomatoes for some additional color.


It’s pretty traditional to finish off these tarts with salt, pepper, fresh herbs and a drizzle of olive oil before baking, but I went for an addition of crumbled goat’s cheese dotted over the tomatoes. Then some freshly grated black pepper, a pinch of two of salt, a sprinkling of herbes de provence and it’s ready to go into the oven.


Bake it for about 20-25 minutes until the goat cheese is starting to brown, the tomatoes are starting to shrivel and the aroma is hitting your nostrils just so.


The combo of nutty gruyère, warm fresh tomatoes, the tangy, creamy goat’s cheese and the perfect hint of mustard and herbs was absolutely delicious. Not only that, it’s très, très facile. You can do it!

This one’s a keeper, right Steve?


A free form savory tart

As I anticipated the end-of-the-fall-session gathering of my weekly French class, I considered what I should bring as a contribution to the fête. I was in the mood for something savory - it just seemed right for this time of year.

I had puff pastry in my freezer so out it came to thaw.  I then embarked on the course of creating a free form puff pastry base.

The beauty of this approach is that you can create any shape or size to fit your mood as well as the number of people you plan to serve.

In my case I planned to cut the finished product into appetizer size portions, so I made a simple rectangle of about 4" x 8" and had plenty of dough to cut narrow strips, braid them and create a lovely border look.

I had autumn veggies on the brain and recalled the vol-au-vent filled with a mix of roasted butternut squash, caramelized onion and goat cheese from a puff pastry class I taught at the Grand Rapids downtown market last fall.  Yes, that's it!

First I baked the puff base solo (425º for about 20 minutes) and set it aside while preparing the filling.  The center puffs up quite a bit, but I simply push it down gently to allow some space for the filling.

NOTE:  this approach is best when using a filling that will already be cooked through since the whole thing will just require warming up once assembled.

I tossed a couple of cups of chunked butternut squash with some olive oil, rosemary, herbes de provence, salt and pepper and roasted them at 450º for about 25 minutes.

I mixed the caramelized onion I had prepared earlier with the squash, piled it onto the baked puff, topped it with crumbled goat cheese and popped it into a 350º oven for about 15 minutes just to warm the whole thing up.

As a final garnish, some roasted pepitas and toasted walnut pieces went on top.

The end result was a delicious combo of buttery, flaky puff and herbed veggie filling with the added crunch of pumpkin seeds and nuts.

Yes - a lovely fall treat.

So put your thinking cap on and imagine of all the wonderful combos you can create!