Even here in NOCA, where we have a nearly year 'round growing season, we get lousy tomatoes in the winter. Even when shipped with a Sasquatch-sized carbon footprint from distant lands where summer is in full sway, they taste like cardboard, their color is pink rather than red, and they simply aren't worth the cost.
So, as I sliced the last of my little round, late-season red beauties for a tomato tart, I was bidding a fond farewell to summer. I was lucky they lasted this long.
The idea of making a tomato tart sprang into my head just before Thanksgiving and, when I looked on the interwebs, I saw that it was far from an original idea. So I cobbled together a hint from here and a treatment from there and came up with my own version which, if the rave reviews when I took it to Thanksgiving dinner are any indication, was a huge hit.
Those of you Down Under can try this right away. Those of you in the Northern Hemisphere who have preserved some of last season's harvest can probably make a good approximation. For grasshoppers like me, we have to wait until summer rolls around again.
Ripe Tomato Tart
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
1 package frozen puff pastry, thawed (I prefer DuFour brand because it is made with real butter and, thus, tastes better)
6-8 small ripe tomatoes, sliced
Feta cheese, coarsely crumbled
Fresh thyme (or oregano, or whatever herb you especially like with tomatoes)
Fresh fennel flowers
Unfold the puff pastry to a single layer on a baking sheet; it will measure approximately 14" x 8". With a sharp knife, score around the perimeter about 1/2" in from the edge but don't cut through the pastry; this part will rise and form a barrier to errant juices while the middle stays relatively flat.
Spread the middle of the pastry sheet inside your incised line with Dijon mustard to taste - I laid it on fairly thickly. Arrange tomato slices in a single layer on the mustarded part, sprinkle with feta cheese, again to taste. Strip the leaves from the woody stems of the thyme by running your fingers backwards along the stem from tip to base - you don't want the woody stems but if the tip breaks off it's okay to add that.
Drizzle the top very lightly with honey - no need to overdo this step, just a light striping is plenty.
Slide into a 375 degree oven; DuFour brand pastry does best at this heat. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the rim rises and browns, the tomatoes have sagged and softened, and the cheese is lightly browned on top.
Remove from the oven and add the fennel flowers scattered where everyone gets a taste of them.
I cut my tart into sizes easily eaten by hand as an hors d'oeuvre for 10 eaters, but if you plan to serve it at the table, it would make a nice first course or even a light lunch for about 6 people.