Tasty & Tempting: Heirloom Tomato Recipes

GRIT offers some of the more popular heirloom tomato recipes out there.

By Letitia L. Star


November/December 2008

Heirloom Tomato and Mozzarella Tart

Heirloom tomatoes and mozzarella dazzle in this deliciously simple tart.

Photo by Fotolia/teleginatania

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Farming in the City 

"Heirloom tomatoes have a diverse flavor profile. Each has its own characteristic such as tangy or sweet," says Bruce Sherman, chef-owner of North Pond Restaurant, Chicago, and a dedicated City Farm customer.

"Regarding preparation, the less that you do with them the better. This allows you to taste the unique flavor of each separate tomato," he says.

Sherman offers an heirloom tomato-mozzarella tart recipe he serves in season at his upscale restaurant (www.NorthPondRestaurant.com).

HEIRLOOM TOMATO-MOZZARELLA TART
Preparation Time: 1 hour
1 sheet puff or pie pastry, from freezer section
1 tablespoon olive or cooking oil
1 large yellow onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
Salt and white pepper, to taste
3 medium red tomatoes, heirloom
3 medium yellow tomatoes, heirloom
¾ pound fresh mozzarella, approx. 3 balls
1 bunch fresh basil
Extra-virgin olive oil
Preparation:
Heat oven to 400°F. Thaw puff pastry. Grease baking sheet; set aside.
In medium-size skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat; add onion, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low; cook slowly 20-30 minutes, or until onions turn golden brown. Set aside.
Place thawed pastry on counter. With rolling pin, roll evenly to 1/8-inch thickness. Prick with fork and carefully place on prepared baking sheet. Bake 5-8 minutes, or until golden brown.
Remove from oven and cool on rack. Lower oven temperature to 350°.
When pastry has cooled, place on counter or large cutting board. Using plate or other round, flat item with diameter of 5 inches; place plate on pastry to cut 5-inch rounds of pastry. Place plate as efficiently as possible to maximize yield from pastry sheet
Slice tomatoes into 1/8-inch rounds, and mozzarella into as thin of disks as knife will allow.
Pick tops off basil for plate decoration; pick off 15-20 leaves, stack together and cut into very thin strips.
To assemble tarts: place pastry circles on counter. On each, spread thin layer of browned onions. Alternate layers and colors of heirloom tomatoes with discs of cheese (1 red, 1 cheese, 1 yellow, 1 cheese) around circumference of tart, atop onions. It should be possible to fit 3 red wheels, 3 yellow wheels and 6 cheese wheels around the top.
Place tarts on baking sheet; drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with thinly sliced basil, salt and pepper. Bake 5-7 minutes, or until cheese melts and begins to brown. Remove from oven, garnish with reserved basil tops, and serve. Goes well with mixed salad. Yields 4 servings.

The beauty of heirloom tomatoes is you can achieve a great gourmet taste without much effort. Here’s an easy salsa that can be assembled in a few minutes before or after a busy day:

HEIRLOOM TOMATO SALSA WITH FRESH HERBS
2 cups chopped heirloom tomatoes, preferably organic
1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs, such as cilantro, basil, oregano, chives, thyme, dill or mint chopped jalapeno, to taste
1 tablespoon fresh key lime, lime or lemon juice
Optional: fresh corn kernels, chopped sweet onion, chopped mild garlic
Salt and white pepper, to taste
Combine ingredients and toss. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

This versatile, quick pizza showcases the color and texture of heirloom tomatoes:

HEIRLOOM TOMATO PIZZA
Pre-made pizza crust
Tomato paste, preferably organic
Heirloom tomatoes, sliced, rinsed and seeded
Optional toppings: garlic, basil, oregano, artichoke hearts, olives, green onions, capers, peppers or any favorite pizza toppings.
Extra virgin olive oil, as needed
Lightly coat pizza crust with olive oil, according to directions, and then evenly spread tomato paste. Top with heirloom tomato slices and other toppings. Bake according to directions.