Tomato-Mozzarella Tart

Love song chords began strumming in my heart the minute I first pulled this tomato tart out of the oven. I found myself saying aloud, "I made this?" Huge kudos go to Cook's Illustrated for the recipe—I find myself cherishing my collection of CI magazines more and more as the years pass.

This is a showstopper for an antipasti platter, but also serves well as an accompaniment to a endive salad with bacon-y dressing and poached egg.

Ingredients

1 1.1 box of frozen puff pastry, defrosted in the refrigerator overnight

1 egg, beaten

2 ounces parmesan cheese, finely grated (I use a microplane)

1 pound tomatoes (original recipe calls for roma tomatoes, cored and sliced into 1/4 inch slices, but I prefer others with low water content, like colorful baby heirlooms simply sliced into 1/4 inch slices)

salt

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons excellent olive oil (extra-virgin, first cold-pressed, of course)

ground black pepper

8 ounces low-moisture whole-milk mozzarella, shredded

2 tablespoons basil leaves, rolled into a cigar, and then sliced thinly into ribbons

Preparation

1) Adjust rack to lower-middle position, and preheat to 425 degrees. 

2) Place sheets of puff pastry on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper so they slightly overlap (about an inch) to make a long pastry. Brush egg along the edge of the pastry on the bottom of the overlap, and use rolling pin to smooth out the seam. You'll have a sheet of pastry about 18 inches long. Using a very thin knife (and making sure not to cut the paper), cut a one-inch strip of pastry from the long end, and repeat on same side. Put lengths aside. Now cut two one-inch strips from the short side of the pastry. Brush pastry with egg, then place long strips of dough atop the long sides of the pastry, and repeat with the short sides, forming a border. Trim the strips so you have an even rectangle. Brush the newly adhered strips with egg. Sprinkle parmesan over the base of the pastry, and use a fork to poke holes evenly over the shell (not the border).

3) Bake 13-15 minutes, then reduce oven to 350 and bake an additional 13-15 minutes, until the pastry is golden-brown and crisp. Transfer cookie sheet to a wire rack, and crank oven back up to 425 degrees. Pastry can be pre-baked and held like this for a few hours at room temperature or cooled and wrapped in plastic wrap if you want to hold it for up to two days.

4) While shell is baking (and/or cooling), place tomato slices in a single layer on a double layer of paper towels. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, let stand for 30 minutes. Place another doubled up layer of paper towels on top of tomato slices and press gently to extract as much water as possible.

5) Combine olive oil, garlic, a pinch each of salt and pepper into a bowl, set aside.

6) Sprinkle mozzarella evenly over pastry shell. Cover with a delightful pattern of tomatoes (this is a time to showcase a multitude of colors). Brush the tomatoes with garlic oil.

7) Bake until tart is deep golden brown and cheese is well melted (about 15-17 minutes). Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes, sprinkle with a little pink or kosher salt if desired, and then with the basil ribbons.