WRITTEN ON August 27th, 2010 BY Meredith AND STORED IN Appetizer, Baking, Dinner, No really, what IS for lunch?, Side Dish, Tomatoes, Vegetarian

This morning started out like any other morning. Several “snooze” sessions, my best Oscar the Grouch impersonation, and a large cup of coffee. Until I looked out the window.

After several days of much needed, heavy rain, the skies over Long Island dawned clear, cool, and heart-breakingly blue. The perfect day to be out in the wilds of the Huntington organic community gardens.

My friend Dan’s parents have several plots there, and very generously allowed me to make use of them this week. I can’t imagine why they thought of me.  I’ve never, ever looked longingly at the gorgeous tomatoes they seem to always be noshing on. I positively hate fresh, juicy, purple-red raspberries. And I’ve certainly never given anyone the impression that I am secretly so sad that we don’t have enough sun for a garden of our own. Huh.  They must have just been feeling neighborly.

I arrived at their plots, again in my new uniform (pants, long sleeves, gloves, knee highs), with a huge basket and several zip lock bags. I’d been there earlier in the week but in the pouring rain, the romance was somehow washed away. Not today. Huge boughs laden with bright berries ripe for the picking leaned gently towards a wall of colorful zinnias. I couldn’t get them in the bag fast enough. They were positively falling off the vines. It was quiet, the only sounds coming from the lazy drone of the crickets and the soft morning breezes. It was, quite honestly, the closest thing to heaven I could possibly imagine.

I meandered back through the thick and sometimes overgrown plots in the community garden.  Huge Big Bird yellow sunflowers towered over me, providing occasional shade from the end of summer sun. Weathered metal garden chairs nestled among curly pumpkin vines, just waiting for someone to take a load off. The slow drip, drip of garden hoses marked my progress towards the promised land: plum tomato mania. I felt like the Dad from a Christmas Story, who loves turkey so much that he wants to make turkey gravy, turkey sandwiches, turkey soup, turkey a la king.  In my head I was going through versions of all this things I’d make with my score. Fresh salsa, tomato sauce, BLT’s, and this gorgeous summer tomato tart.

Weaving back to my car, my basket filled to the brim with my booty, I felt very thankful for thoughtful neighbors.  I also felt a lot less grouchy.


Plum Tomato Tart (makes one 8 inch round tart)
12 plum tomatoes, halved
2 springs fresh thyme, picked and chopped
1 drizzle olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 small handful fresh basil, cut into thin ribbons (chiffonade)
For pastry:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold butter, cut into small cubes
1 tsp salt
4-5 tbsp ice water
In food processor, pulse flour, butter and salt until it is well incorporated, and the consistency of sand. Slowly add ice water, by the tablespoon full (not all at once) and pulse until the mixture just forms a loose ball. Turn out of processor and lightly mold into a flat, round disk.  Wrap in plastic, chill for 20 minutes.  Dust your countertop with flour.  Remove pastry from fridge, unwrap, and dust with flour.  Dust your rolling pin with flour too.  Begin to roll out your dough, turning after each roll of the pin, 1/4 turn.  This will keep the dough round and will keep it from sticking (if it gets sticky on the bottom just add more flour to the counter top). Once it is about 1/4 thick, place in your tart pan and gently press the edges into the pan.  Trim the top, leaving about an inch extra dough around the entire tart (dough will shrink when cooked).  Chill 30 minutes. In the meantime:
Preheat oven to 400. Toss tomatoes with olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper. Roast in oven about 35 minutes until soft and caramelized. Turn oven temp down to 375.  Put crust in oven and bake about 30 minutes until golden brown. Remove, cool.  Arrange tomato slices in a circular pattern in crust, overlapping where necessary. Top with a sprinkle of the fresh basil and serve room temp.

Take a big bite

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