Because the tomatoes begin to arrive!

Those heavy green orbs have stopped merely taking up space in our garden. They’re now starting to turn.

The cherries blushed first:

cherries on vine

Then the black Russians. Now the Romas and Big Boys are ripe for the picking.

We eat them out of hand. Slice them on sandwiches. Use them as a bed for olive oil-fried eggs.

But what we really love is this tart:

tomato pie1

Flaky, herb-flecked pastry slathered with roasted garlic, then topped with cheese and thick slices of all those garden tomatoes.

I discovered this tart years ago in a “Martha Stewart Living” magazine. Since then, I’ve made it for brunches, served it at luncheons and cut it into tiny squares for cocktail party nibbles. It’s rustic yet sophisticated; homey yet dressed up enough for company. And despite appearances, it’s a cinch to put together.

The only problem? It’s awful with store-bought tomatoes. Which means it only graces our table when the garden tomatoes ripen.

I’m so glad it’s the end of July.

Garden Tomato Tart (“Martha Stewart Living”)

The roasted garlic adds depth and earthiness to this tart, but you can certainly skip it if you want to save time. (Or roast the garlic the day before.) And while the homemade pastry takes less than 5 minutes to make and is easy to work with, use pre-made crusts if you’d rather. (Watch them closely to be sure they don’t burn.) The only must: Garden-grown and sun-ripened tomatoes!

  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon basil
  • 2 sticks of cold, unsalted butter, cut into dice
  • 1/2 cup ice water
  • 1 cup cheese (mozzarella, fontina, Parmesan or a combination)
  • Assorted garden tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Place the garlic on a piece of foil. Drizzle it with the tablespoon of oil. Enclose it completely in the foil, then put the foil in a small pan and roast it for 30-40 minutes, or until you can pierce it with a fork.

While the garlic roasts, place the flour, salt and basil in the bowl of a food processor. Mix using on-and-off turns.

Place the cubed butter in the bowl. Again using on-and-off turns, process the contents until the butter is incorporated into the flour and is about the size of peas.

With the food processor running, pour in 1/3 cup of the ice water. Process for about 20 seconds, at which time the dough should come together into a ball. (Add dribbles of the remaining water if your dough remains dry.)

Turn the ball out onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Wrap it tightly, then pat it into a disk and refrigerate until the garlic is done roasting.

Once the garlic is done, increase your oven’s heat to 450 degrees.

Roll out the dough to a 1/8 inch-thick circle. Place it in a 12- or 14-inch tart pan. Crimp the edges and refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes.

Squeeze the pulp from your roasted garlic into a small bowl. Mash it into a paste, then spread it on the bottom of your chilled tart crust.

Sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese over the garlic. Lay your sliced tomatoes on top of the cheese, then season them with salt, pepper and the 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Place the tart pan on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes.

tomato pie2Remove the tart from the oven, and reduce the oven’s heat to 425 degrees. Sprinkle the tart with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. Bake it for an additional 20 to 30 minutes. Let it cool slightly before serving.