Sunday, November 28, 2010

tomato basil tart

I was really excited to share this dish with you guys. Of course, now that I've finally gotten around to it, here it is, late November, with nary a tomato in sight, and no prospect of decent ones until next summer. I cook seasonally, but I'm definitely having a tough time keeping the blog up to speed.

So yeah. Even though it is nearly December, I am going to tell you about one of my favorite dishes: Tomato Basil Tart. My mom has been making this for parties since the mid-nineties, and it is totally, wonderfully, unbelievably delicious. It's creamy and cheesy, with plenty of basil, garlic and sweet juicy tomatoes. Since it's so impressively festive in its little tart pan, mom would never ever make it just for the family. There were years of frustration, as she would whisk the finished tart off to parties, leaving me behind to salivate over the lingering aroma.

This was a minor tragedy for me, but a minor culinary triumph for mom. The dish is actually quite easy to prepare, but the end result is both polished and rustic, making it the perfect dish for company. For years, friends and family members would specifically request that she bring her tomato basil tart round to dinner parties and picnics. Just this past summer, her former volleyball coach's wife called up looking for the recipe years and years later. I told my mom this was quite the compliment, but this tart is just that good.

the greatest tomato dish

This recipe dates from 1994, when a Ms Kathleen M. Bonerb, of Glen New Hampshire, entered it in the Pilsbury Bake Off under the Fresh Tomato Ideas Category. I am not sure what the prize levels were, but I assure you that the tomato basil tart, (or Basil-Tomato Tart as she actually called it) was well worth the $200 prize it picked up. This little tart is so perfectly fantastic that I'm frankly shocked that it did not go home with the Grand Prize, which even in 1994 had to have been more than a couple Benjamins.

Anyway. You should make this. When my mom finally turned a worn photocopy of the recipe over to me, I was surprised to learn that it called for ready made pie crust and mayonnaise. I would have never thought that one of my favorite dishes could have sprung from such humble ingredients, but I wasn't about to mess with success. Ok, so I made my own pie crust. But other than that, there's very little to tinker with in this baby.

a gooey slice of tomato basil tart

I know I usually do not include full recipes on here, but today I am making an exception, because I so want you to try this for yourself. I figured this would be the rare entry that is more than a rehash of something that's already been all over the interwebs, but of course I found it on some allrecipes clone in about 10 seconds of searching. Bummer.

Anyway, I am still proud to present a family favorite, the dish that my mother is so famous for, the tomato basil tart. Here she is in all her glory, and with a couple notes from mom and from me.

Tomato Basil Tart
recipe b Kathleen M. Bonerb, winner in the 1994 Pillsbury Bake Off
Be ready. Your friends will request the recipe for this garden-fresh appetizer or entreƩ.

½ of a 15 oz. pkg. folded refrigerated unbaked piecrust (1 crust)
1½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese, 6 oz
5 Roma tomatoes, about 12 oz
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil, leaves only
4 cloves garlic
⅓ cup mayonnaise or salad dressing*
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
⅛ t. ground white pepper **
Shredded fresh basil, optional

Unfold piecrust according to package directions. Place in a 9-inch quiche dish or glass pie plate. Flute edge; press with the times of a fork, if desired. Pre-bake according to package directions. Remove from oven. Sprinkle with ½ cup of the mozzarella cheese. Cool on a wire rack.

Cut tomatoes into wedges; drain on paper towels. Arrange tomato wedges atop melted cheese in the baked pie shell. In a food processor bowl, combine basil and garlic; cover and process until coarsely chopped. Sprinkle over tomatoes.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine remaining mozzarella cheese, mayonnaise or salad dressing, Parmesan cheese and pepper. Spoon cheese mixture over basil mixture, spreading to evenly cover the top.

Bake in 375˚ oven for 35 to 40 minutes or till top is golden and bubbly. Serve warm. If desired, sprinkle with basil leaves. Makes 8 appetizer or 4 main-dish servings.

Says Sarah: * we only ever use mayo
** I always sub in black pepper to no ill effects
Says Mom: "I have used strips of aluminum foil on pie crust edge after its partially cooked and remove when tart is cooked.


  1. That looks delicious. Too bad there won't be tomatoes for almost a year.

  2. hot house tomatoes, maybe? or the plum tomatoes tend to be pretty good during the year, at least compared to beefsteak ones. but yeah, you might have to wait awhile to make this one.