Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Roasted Tomato and Caramelized Onion Tart

Here is a delicious recipe from our recent gourmet group dinner that we hosted last month and one that I really want to share with you as garden-fresh tomato season is upon us. It had been assigned to another couple to bring to our dinner in June and was served as the starter course. I have since made it twice for my husband and myself - once in individual 4-inch pyrex dishes and the second time I made it in a 10-inch pie plate.

At first glance, the recipe looks long and complicated but please don't be intimidated - it really isn't.  The great thing about this recipe is that most of it can be done in advance.  The tomatoes can be roasted and the onions caramelized 1-2 days ahead so that all you need to do is place the puff pastry over the top and bake it.  Simple, right?

The part that wasn't quite as simple was taking the pictures of my tart right before we enjoyed it for dinner.  I arranged my dish in front of one of my tomato plants as a backdrop and, as soon as I turned on the camera, it started to rain.  Pour, is a little more accurate.  What to grab first, the camera and tripod or the food.  The camera won :)   Thankfully, I didn't have far to go and this delicious tart didn't get soaked.

Roasted tomatoes with thyme springs and garlic, caramelized onions with Dijon mustard and basil, both topped with golden puff pastry, what a delicious combination!

Then the finishing touch...a dollop of mascarpone cheese and a fresh basil leaf . See that lovely mascarpone melting on the warm tart?  Delicious!

The original recipe is called Tomato Tarte Tatin from Stir by Barbara Lynch, a cookbook that I've owned for several years and where I still continue to find wonderful recipes like this one.

A "tarte tatin" is supposed to be turned upside down for serving but the tart for our dinner group was so big we were afraid to attempt flipping and breaking it.  And so, it was simply cut it into wedges and served pastry side up.  I actually preferred it that way as it allowed the puff pastry to remain crisp and flaky.  And that is how I recreated it here and why I've renamed it Roasted Tomato and Caramelized Onion Tart.  It even sounds less complicated, don't you agree?

  (Daylily time in the garden - three of my favorites.)

Roasted Tomato and Caramelized Onion Tart

Printable Recipe

Serves 6 as a first course.

This makes six individual tarts, each about 4 inches across (feel free to make them in ramekins or even muffin tins). Or, you can make one 9 or 10-inch tart and cut slices from it.

Do ahead: The onions can be caramelized up to three days ahead. Keep them covered and refrigerated. The roasted tomatoes can also be made 2-3 days ahead and refrigerated. You can arrange the onions and tomatoes in the tart pan earlier in the day and then simply top with the already-cut crust right before baking.

What you'll need for the caramelized onions:

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 very large yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 basil leaves, chopped

What you'll need for the roasted tomatoes (makes about 4 cups of roasted tomatoes)

3-1/2 pounds of plum or Roma tomatoes
4 cloves of garlic
6-8 springs of fresh thyme
1/2 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

What you'll need for final assembly and serving:

1 9 or 10-inch tart or pie pan or 6 small tart pans or ramekins
1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed
Flour for your work surface
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 egg, beaten
3 tablespoons Mascarpone cheese or fresh ricotta for garnish
6 - 8 basil leaves for garnish (the number depends on how many individual servings you plan to make)

To make the caramelized onions:

Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan. Add the onions and the garlic, reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions turn an even dark brown, 45 minutes to an hour. Don't rush the process! If you brown them too early they won’t get a sweet caramelized flavor and soft texture. If the pan dries out, add a tablespoon or two of water to the pan as needed. When the onions are nicely caramelized, take the pan off the heat and stir in the Dijon mustard and chopped basil. Season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and some freshly ground pepper.  Cool, the refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the roasted tomatoes:

To easily peel the tomatoes, cut a shallow X on the bottom (not stem end) of each tomato with a paring knife. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil and have ready a bowl of ice water. Boil the tomatoes, a few at a time, for 30 seconds or so and then remove with a slotted spoon and immediately plunge them in the ice water.  This will will cause their skin to loosen and easier to peel. Using a paring knife to grab and peel the skin off of the tomatoes. Cut the peeled tomatoes into quarters lengthwise and seed them with your fingers, removing as much tomato juice as possible. 

Heat the oven to 325°F. Divide the garlic slices between two large pyrex baking dishes or two baking sheets with sides, each about 9 x 13 inches or larger, spreading them out on the bottom. Place the tomato quarters in a large bowl and add the olive oil and toss with your fingers until coated.  Lay the tomato pieces, inner side up in the pans. Sprinkle the salt over the tomatoes and season generously with black pepper. Bake until the tomatoes are soft and wrinkled but still retain their shape, 30-45 minutes.

Cool the tomatoes completely in the pan before transferring them to a storage container with a slotted spoon. Discard the thyme springs. Keep the roasted tomatoes refrigerated until ready to use. 

To assemble and bake the tart(s):

Lightly flour a work surface, and roll the puff pastry out to 1/8-inch thickness. Invert a tart pan over the pastry sheet. With a sharp knife, cut out the shape you need by tracing around the pan with a paring knife.  Repeat if using smaller tart pans or molds, adjusting to fit the sheet of pastry. Transfer the cut out dough to a very lightly floured sheet pan and refrigerate while you assemble the rest of the tart.
Heat the oven to 375°F. Use a finger to spread the honey on the bottom of the tart pan(s), dividing it among multiple pans, if using. Place a single layer of roasted tomatoes in the pan, overlapping as needed to cover the bottom completely. Distribute the caramelized onions over the tomatoes, dividing them evenly among multiple pans if using, and gently spread them to cover evenly.

Remove the cut dough from the refrigerator and place it directly over the onions. Lightly beat the egg and brush the top of the tart or tarts with the beaten egg. Sprinkle each with a pinch of additional kosher salt. Bake until the pastry is puffed and a deep, golden brown, about 20-30 minutes, depending on size.

If you want to fry some basil leaves for the garnish, heat the vegetable oil in a small saucepan until a basil leaf dipped into it sizzles. Place the remaining leaves in the oil and fry, turning them once, until crispy, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Drain on paper towel.

If you have made one large tart, slice it into six servings; (serve the tiny tarts whole).

Garnish each serving with a small dollop of Mascarpone cheese and a fresh basil leaf.


  1. What an exquisite dish. Your guests must have loved it!

  2. I love this tart look wonderful and delicious Susan:)

  3. Beautiful flowers in your garden!

  4. This looks so pretty and delicious..
    I have started to consider the tripod..:)
    I am pinning this..not that I ever forget your recipes..but I want to make this soon:)

    We love and have the same lilies Susan♥

  5. How can it go wrong with ingredients like that? Yummo!

  6. What a beautiful post, and this tart looks absolutely divine!

  7. Such a delicious pit Susan...I love the idea of the roasted tomatoes and yes, caramelized onion...beautiful crust.
    Enjoy your week :D

  8. Wow - it does look and sound so good. Your lilies are beautiful - thanks for sharing.

  9. Susan, this tart looks and sounds delicious...perfect for a summer supper. The tomatoes are just starting to come in here...such a long time between season! I like that this can be prepared in steps and not have to be all done at one time.

  10. This tart looks superb my friend, delicious and so tempting :D
    I can smell it from here!

    Choc Chip Uru

  11. Roasted tomatoes and caramelized onions are perfect together in this savoury tart. I like mini version..easier for portion control.
    Beautiful daylily!

  12. What a lovely tart and I'm sure the flavors were fantastic. I wouldn't have turned it over, especially since this side is so pretty.

  13. Definitely going to try this, Susan. I love tomato tarts of all kinds, from Ina Garten's really simple one to Anne Willan's fabulous tomato tarte tatin I made for the 50 Women Game Changer series. Long instructions often put people off, but not me. The results are always worth it and I've found if you read carefully, it's never as difficult as you think. (Maida Heatter's recipes take pages as she is so precise.) Your lovely tart has fabulous flavors and I love the way you presented it.

  14. From the woman who made Julia Child's twenty-seven page recipe for French bread (with only four ingredients), this will be a cinch!! It looks and sounds so delicious that I can hardly wait to put it on our table. So glad you could rescue both the camera and the tatin.


  15. Looks delicious Susan and I can see why it was served at a gourmet dinner. Your presentation looks very professional.

  16. Such a lovely tart! And it looks delicious with the caramelized onion, which is one of my favourite filling!

  17. Hi Susan, your tart turned out perfectly, love the way it looks and roasted tomato and caramelized onion sounds delicious together, very impressive indeed.

  18. Susan, wow! That is making my mouth water, it sounds and looks delicious and its so prefect in small amounts . :-) <3 :-)

  19. Beautiful and perfect for summer. I love caramelized onions, despite the amount of time it takes to make them. Your flowers are beautiful. Hope you're having a wonderful week!

  20. a really delicious combination of flavors ! hugs & kisses

  21. I would have grabbed the camera first too. I think you got some great shots, considering it was starting to pour. It looks like a great way to use some of my Jersey tomatoes.

  22. Beautiful tart Susan. I am having a friend over for lunch this Sunday and I just may make this. Love your flowers and picture of the tart with your tomato plant. I know how you must have felt about the rain. It seems every time I set up to take a picture the clouds move in or rain comes down.

  23. What a mouthwatering dish this one was. I agree - leave it beautifully stunning! That puff pastry is so fabulous.
    I always think getting the photos when the food is to be served is the hardest - not everyone is patient either!

  24. Wow - this looks amazing. I bet it is work every single step. I love this kind of recipe. I adore pies anyway so this is right up my alley. Thanks! Have a great weekend.

  25. This looks delicious and the presentation is beautiful! I think I's also prefer the puff pastry crust to be crisp and golden this way instead of inverted as in a tartin. I wish I was a member of your Gourmet Club, Susan!

  26. Glad the tart didn't get soaked! I wonder if our grandmothers would wonder why the heck we are taking photos of our food ;o) We love our gourmet group too, and we try recipes that we might not try otherwise. The tart looks scrumptious!

  27. Looks delicious, I have never had Roasted Tomato and Caramelized Onion Tart! You are really a great cook, I sure hope you family appreciates all your cooking!! :)

  28. wow looks incredible and thanks for the great tomato tips

  29. WE do agree!! Anything in a tart is mouthwatering, and yours looks to DIE for !! ... with all the ingredients including the mascarpone in this one- wow it has to be amazing!

  30. My tomatoes haven't ripened yet but when they do I will be trying the tart. I agree with you about not flipping it so that the pastry stays crispy.

  31. What ever would we do without purchased puff pastry? It makes easy work of so many wonderful summer dishes. Our tomatoes are just coming in and I can't wait to try this recipe. The dab of Marscapone is the perfect garnish.

  32. Wonderful way to use tomatoes that are just starting to turn red here. It looks delicious!

  33. My stomach just growled with desire. Those roasted tomatoes sound absolutely divine paired with that pastry!

  34. OK this is seriously fancy...love that crust! And I love your day lilies...when I was living back East I couldn't resist photographing them while they were in season, they come in so many colors, it was awesome!

  35. This s a truly summer delight dish, when fresh tomatoes are at their best.
    Just looking at the pictures and reading the instructions makes my mouth water.
    And the hint of mascarpone melting slowly at the top of the tart....mmh.

  36. looks ravishing! reminds me of the tomato galette we used to eat in France

  37. I don't know how this one got away from me, but glad I didn't miss it altogether. Susan, your tomato tart looks yummy; the last shot practically put me in a trance :)

    I have yet to make a tomato tart this summer - still waiting for the star of the vegetable garden.


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