My husband and I have been home gardeners for about 3 years now and have learned a lot of things along the way. First off, sometimes gardening can be as easy as throwing some seeds on the ground and watching something pop up and grow. But usually, it's challenging, unpredictable at times, and requires a watchful eye and lots of patience.
Also, fruits and vegetables aren't always pretty. We live in such luxury to be able to have visually stunning produce in our stores but the reality is, there's a lot of anomalies out there. Carrots with two ends, misshapen onions, tomatoes with cracks, speckly eggplants… they all taste the same, and through the years I've grown to love them. I appreciate their quirky genetics and with all the time and labor that stands behind each fruit, it's hard for me to just throw it away.
Most importantly, gardening allows me to pause from our busy lifestyles and take a moment to calm our minds and appreciate the special gift that is nature. It really requires a perfect synchronicity that often leaves me amazed with wonderment, you know that same feeling you use to get when you were a kid. What treasure a simple seed can hold if you just place it in all the right elements and the sense of pride that fills your heart when you learn the true meaning of "fruits of your labor". It reminds you to find happiness in the simplest of things.
To celebrate the last few weeks of Summer, I thought I'd feature my favorite fruit of the season: Heirloom Tomatoes! If you have misshapen tomatoes from the market or garden, this is a great way to let them shine.
HEIRLOOM TOMATO TART
(makes 1 9" tart)
- 1 9" pie crust
- 1 package of cream cheese (8 oz)
- 4 eggs
- 1/4 cup cream
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 1 TB fresh basil, chopped
- 1 TB thyme, chopped
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 1/2 lb. heirloom tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
- Maldon sea salt for finishing
- Small basil and thyme leaves for finishing
Position rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 400F. Bake pie shell for 7 minutes or until crust is just slightly browned.
Next, make the filling. In a large mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, eggs, cream and milk and thoroughly blend until mixture becomes smooth and foamy. Add chopped herbs and a couple pinches of salt and pepper. Set aside.
Take tomato slices and lay them down in prepared pie crust. Carefully pour filling into pie crust until just topped off. Arrange onion slices on top and finish with a pinch of pepper. Place pie onto baking sheet and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until filling is set. Sprinkle with Maldon salt and basil and thyme leaves. Serve immediately.
Leftovers can be frozen and stored in the freezer for up to 6 months.
***** If the edges of the crust begins to brown before filling is set, wrap some foil around the edges to keep crust from over baking.
***** This tart would be great served with a side salad and would be perfect for brunch or even a picnic!