I know, summer tomatoes are the best tomatoes. But I’m Italian-American, what do you want? Tomato sauce runs in my veins. Every season is tomato season. So recently when I walked into my local market and saw Campari tomatoes (a little bigger than the cherry sort but smaller than Romas) that were plump and juicy, into the basket they went. “I’ll figure out what to do with these later!” I had that same thought the first time I saw blue cheese powder:
The powder is made by Rogue Creamery in Central Point, Oregon. (They were founded in the '30s and have been making blue cheese since 1954, so they know a little about it!) It’s a blend of Oregon Blue, Oregonzola, Crater Lake Blue and some of their reserve blues. It’s nutty and funky with a terrific creaminess. And the beauty of a powder is that you can easily control the amount of cheese you like. Want the funk? [Cue George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelics]. It’s got a real type of thing going down!
These are all great ideas.
But as they often do, my thoughts turned to pizza. Turns out (shocker) Rogue’s powder adds umami and pepperiness that’ll jazz up a fresh pie and can help reanimate leftover slices (you have 30 in your freezer like I do too, right?). So I knew it’d be great on a tomato tart. Or in one.
There are several great tomato tart recipes out there on the interwebs. Bobby Flay suggests layering Gruyère, tomato and Camembert over a homemade pastry dough slathered with Dijon mustard (nice!). Pioneer Woman tops a store-bought crust with sautéed onions Fontina, Parmesan and Gruyère. Epicurious suggests a black pepper and Parmesan crust layered with fresh mozz, pesto and ¾-inch slices of heirloom tomatoes. And David Lebovitz adds a Dijon touch like Bobby Flay, but tops homemade pastry dough and tomatoes with goat cheese.
I like the airy crispness and buttery layers of puff pastry. And I wanted something that wasn’t going to require making a dough after work. So I took a little from each of these ideas and turned to the box of Dufour puff pastry in my freezer.
Turns out, lacing puff pastry with blue cheese powder is a winner. Start slowly – say two tablespoons on the pastry – but keep in mind the flavor cooks out. If you really like blue cheese, even five tablespoons wouldn’t be excessive. This recipe sets you up with a delicious cheesed-up puffy pastry topped with sweet onion, melty Fontina and tossed-on, bursting tomatoes.
EASY BLUE CHEESE TOMATO TART
14 ounces classic puff pastry
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 white onions, thinly sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
4-6 tablespoons bleu cheese powder
9 ounces grated Fontina
16 ounces Campari tomatoes (9-10), quartered
10 basil leaves, julienned
- Preheat oven to 450° and thaw puff pastry (or pie crust).
- Warm a medium saucepan over low heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, sliced onions, salt and pepper, and cook low and slow (about 20 minutes). Set aside.
- Spray a casserole dish or 11" x 16" pan with olive oil or vegetable spray (or lightly grease it with olive oil or butter), then lay out the pastry to the edges.
- Evenly sprinkle 2-5 tablespoons blue cheese powder over the pastry.
- Evenly layer the sliced onions over the pastry.
- Scatter the grated Fontina over the onions.
- Quarter the tomatoes and gently toss in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of blue cheese powder, salt and pepper. Then arrange them evenly on top of the Fontina.
- Cook in oven at 450° for 20 minutes watching to make sure the crust doesn't burn, then turn down the oven to 425° and cook for another 10 minutes.
- Scatter another tablespoon of blue cheese powder over the tart and julienned basil.
I serve this tart with a slather of whole-grain mustard for a vinegar-pepperiness accent and burst-in-your mouth textural contrast. If you haven’t done the mustard-tomato thing, try it. (The longest, continuously owned pizzeria in America, Papa’s Tomato Pies in Trenton, New Jersey, does a mustard pie with plain mozzarella, tomato sauce and a mustard base that blew my mind a few years ago.) Seems like there’s French precedent for it!