A Tart With Tomatoes, Mozzarella & Basil


By Sara Moulton


For the dough:

6 ounces (about 1 1/3 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon table salt

10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

2 to 4 tablespoons ice water

For the pie:

4 medium beefsteak tomatoes (about 1 3/4 pounds)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for sprinkling on the tomatoes

1 cup packed basil leaves plus extra small leaves for garnish

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole-milk ricotta cheese

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup grated mozzarella)

1 ounce freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Extra-virgin olive oil for brushing on the tomatoes

Make the dough:

In a large bowl, stir together the flour and the salt, add the butter and, working quickly with your fingertips or a pastry blender, mix the dough until most of mixture resembles coarse meal. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the ice water evenly over the mixture and gently stir with a fork until incorporated. Gently squeeze a small handful: it should hold together without crumbling apart. If it doesn’t, add more ice water, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, stirring often.

Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and with the heel of your hand, smear the dough in a forward motion on the work surface to help distribute fat. Gather the smeared dough together and repeat the process. Form the dough into a disk. Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it soften for 30 to 40 minutes. On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough into an 11-inch round. Ease the round into a 9-inch tart tin, trim the excess dough and prick the bottom and sides of the dough all over with a fork. Cover and chill for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400 F. Line the shell with aluminum foil and fill it with pie weights, dried beans or rice. Bake in the lower third of the oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and pie weights, return the tart shell to the oven and bake it until it is golden brown. Transfer to a rack and let cool.

Make the filling:

Reduce the oven temperature to 350 F. Slice the tomatoes 1/3-inch thick, lightly salt the slices on both sides and transfer them to a large colander or cake rack to drain for 20 minutes.

In a food processor, combine the basil, ricotta and eggs and process. Add the salt, mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano and pepper and process until combined.

Pat the tomatoes dry with paper towels. Line the bottom of the pastry shell with the tomato end pieces, and spoon on the cheese mixture. Arrange the remaining tomato slices on top, in one layer, overlapping them slightly. Brush the tomatoes with olive oil and bake until the cheese mixture is set, about 1 hour. Transfer to a rack to cool for 10 minutes before serving. – AP