This is my argument for how pretty food wins.
I broke my peppermint pattie meal streak to eat some of this tomato and feta tart, which has me sold that summer should last forever. At least until I start adoring fall. I don’t know what’s up with the peppermint pattie thing right now, I’m just soooo into them.
And it’s official: I can’t get enough of all the tomatoes this summer. While this recipe is super simple, it takes those summer beauties and repurposes them from my all too familiar caprese salad and tastes so.freaking.good.
I have no idea what’s up with me and crust lately – three years ago I couldn’t be paid to make a pie crust of any kind. Unless we are talking about the one that starts with p and ends with izza. But now! I cannot get enough.
Heirlooms are ridiculously appealing to me because – hello – they are gorgeous. It’s like a vanity tomato. The rest of the regular old local red tomatoes taste just as fabulous right now, if not even better. I want the heirlooms though. I want to stare at their stunning array of colors and slice them open just to get the perfect instagram photo. Covering them with salt and pepper so they’re ready to go down the hatch is just a bonus.
We’ve been eating SO many though – I was dying to switch it up. In a way that was easy but different. Nothing complicated but just as delicious as this panzanella. Every year I crave something easy but slightly creative. Like this not-so-boring toast. So I got over the crust angst and made the crust… AGAIN. I had to use my springform pan because, um, I thought it would be a great idea to make this tart a few days before moving when every single thing I own – the most being dishes and kitchen toys – were in boxes.
Here is a surefire way to gain recipe inspiration: pack away EVERYTHING you own in your kitchen, like straight up wrap it tightly as if it’s the most fragile slice of glass ever, throw it in a box then stack those boxes high and finally transport them across town where you have no access to such kitchen toys.
Bingo! I have ten thousand recipe ideas that can’t get out of my brain soon enough.
So the springform pan worked. Not that my pretty tart pan would have made a difference – while I’m into the pastry crust at the moment I still don’t posses any ounce of patience to make a beautiful, perfect crust. Problems.
Inside of that crust I spread the thickest layer ever of whipped feta. Just because. Just because it’s so insanely good. Easily one of my favorite things, and while it certainly can be made all year round I adore it the most with seasonal summer produce. Like corn and tomatoes (swap the goat cheese!). And everything else in between. Hint hint: you can add things to this whipped feta! Like maybe pesto? Roasted garlic? Do what you want.
After that though, it’s embarrassingly easy peasy: just some sliced tomatoes showered in salt and pepper and thrown on top. Lots of layers. Pile ‘em high. Then you can add some basil leaves and if you’d like, some balsamic glaze.
Because I need all things to have that hint of sweetness.
Ugh. It’s just as fantastic as it is pretty. I didn’t even want to eat it, but I also couldn’t wait to seriously faceplant into the center. It’s perfect for guests but even better for just you. Pillow of tomatoes, coming right up.
Salt and Pepper Heirloom Tart with Whipped Feta
Yield: serves 4 to 6
Total Time: 1.5 hours
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/4 cup ice cold water
3/4 cups cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces (1 1/2 sticks or 12 tablespoons)
8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled and at room temperature
3 ounces whipped cream cheese, at room temperature
4 to 6 large heirloom tomatoes (or more or less, depending on your preference!), sliced
a handful of fresh basil leaves
balsamic glaze, for drizzling
Add the flour, sugar and salt to a food processor and pulse just until combined. In a small bowl, whisk mix together the egg, vinegar and water. Add the cold butter pieces into the food processor and pulse until small coarse crumbs remain. Sprinkle the water/egg mixture over the flour and pulse again until the dough comes together. Remove the dough with your hands and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Roll the dough out until it fits your tart pan (mine was a 10-inch springform pan) and press it into the pan. Poke holes in the crust with a fork. Bake the crust until golden and set, about 20 to 25 minutes. Allow the crust to cool to room temperature.
To make the feta, add crumbled feta to a food processor and pulse until small crumbs remain. Add in cream cheese and puree for 4-5 minutes, scraping down the sides when necessary, until feta is super creamy. Spread the feta inside of the crust. Top the feta with the sliced tomatoes, lots of salt and pepper and few fresh basil leaves. Cut into slices and serve immediately. You can refrigerate this overnight, but it's definitely best served fresh. If you want to make it ahead, I suggest making the crust ahead, keeping the whipped feta in a bowl, and assembling right before serving.