I think we all know by now that most dishes featuring tomatoes, fresh basil and fresh mozzarella are bound to be a hit, right? Right. There was no doubt in my mind that we would love this tart, and we certainly did! After all, pizza margherita with tomatoes and herbs from our garden is one of my favorite foods ever! This has a basic tart dough that is kicked up a notch by the addition of finely minced basil and garlic directly into the dough, which is a genius idea if you ask me.
I have been wanting to make a tart with tomatoes and mozzarella for quite a while, but knowing how both of these ingredients can release a lot of liquid when cooking, I was unsure of how this would turn out. Once I saw this recipe though, I knew I had to at least try it. I decided to use all cherry tomatoes because when sliced, the seeds inside squirt right out on their own, so you don’t have to spend any time removing it yourself. Plus they look cute! When I went to rotate the tart halfway through baking, I noticed that indeed it had started to collect some liquid on top so I just used a paper towel or two to wick off the excess moisture via the wonders of capillary action (high school science, anyone?) It worked wonderfully and the tart went on to bake up with great results.
My one issue though was with the baking of the crust in relation to the other ingredients. For many tart and pie recipes, sweet or savory, the recipe will call for blind baking the crust – essentially baking the empty crust without any filling for a short time to help achieve a nice texture on the bottom portion. If the filling is simply place directly onto the crust and baked with no pre-baking of the crust (as indicated in the original recipe), the bottom doesn’t crisp up quite the way it should. I have made enough tarts to have known better, but I decided to stick to the recipe for this first run and just popped it right into the oven, toppings and all. I should have gone with my instinct. It was bearable, but the texture would have benefited greatly from a little blind baking. You live and learn, right? Texture aside, this was a fantastic meal and Ben declared it, “Like pizza but better!” While nothing beats pizza in my book, I loved this and think it would make an elegant addition to a brunch, a nice light lunch or a dinner. I also think it would be wonderful made in mini-tart pans for individual servings. Enjoy!
Tomato Mozzarella Tart with Basil Garlic Crust
For the dough:
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
1-2 cloves garlic
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. kosher salt
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 8-10 pieces
4-5 tbsp. ice cold water
For the filling:
8 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced
Ripe cherry tomatoes
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1-2 tbsp. minced fresh basil
To make the dough, combine the basil and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Process, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until finely minced. Add the flour and salt; pulse briefly to combine. Add in the chunks of butter and pulse about 10 times, or until the mixture resembles pea-sized crumbs. Add 3 tablespoons of the water and pulse a few times to incorporate. Add 1 more tablespoon and process for several seconds to see if the dough forms a ball. If not, add the remaining tablespoon of water and process until a ball of dough forms. Remove the dough, flatten into a 5-inch disc, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
When you are ready to bake the tart, preheat the oven to 425° F. Transfer the chilled dough to a lightly floured work surface and roll out into a 12-inch circle. Lay the dough over a 9-inch round tart pan and press it into the sides. Trim the excess dough as needed. (I use this to reinforce the edges.) Lay a piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper loosely over the tart dough and fill the center with baking beads. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and carefully remove the foil or parchment and baking beads. Return the empty tart shell to the oven to bake for 5 minutes more. Remove from the oven and lower the heat to 375° F.
Layer the bottom of the pre-baked tart shell with the sliced mozzarella. Arrange the cherry tomato slices on top of the cheese in a single even layer. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil. Top with freshly grated Parmesan and minced fresh basil.
Bake about 30 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly and lightly browned in places. About halfway through baking, rotate the tart 180° and wick off any excess moisture that has collected on top with a towel if necessary. Allow the tart to rest at least 5 minutes before slicing and serving.