This time of year (late summer) in this part of the world (Lil’ Rhody) is produce heaven. There’s still a reasonable amount of fresh sweet corn to be had, the zucchini is going full-tilt boogie, and the tomatoes have reached their peak. If a farm-stand shopper is lucky (or diligent), she might even find ripe local peaches, though they’re scarce as hen’s teeth.

And since New England is famous as one of the few places on earth where you can have a three course meal and every course pie, it stands to reason that one of my favorite things to make for a quick summer supper is a rustic tart. What follows is a basic recipe for a tomato tart, but feel free to experiment with whatever is looking good in your neck of the woods right about now.

Preheat your oven to 375F and let it warm up while you’re building your tart. Here’s what you need:

  • One recipe pie crust dough (if you’re pressed for time, get the prefab kind out of the refrigerated section at the market – roll it a little anyway, so it’s not a perfect circle, and nobody will know it’s not scratch crust)
  • One small log goat cheese
  • Two large ripe tomatoes (I like to use one red and one yellow)
  • 1/4 cup shredded basil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Roll your dough out on a sheet of parchment paper or a Silpat mat –you want a rough circle that’s about 12 inches across. Slide the paper or mat onto a baking sheet.
  2. Slice the goat cheese log into rounds that are about 1/4 inch thick. (Easiest to do when the cheese is cold.) “Pave” the crust with these, leaving about 1 1/2 inches uncovered at the edge.
  3. Cover the goat cheese with the shredded basil.
  4. Top the whole shebang with 1/4 inch-thick slices of tomato. Overlap the slices — and if you’re using more than one color of tomato, alternate them.
  5. Drizzle olive oil over, and add salt and pepper to taste. Fold the edge of the pie crust up and over the filling. Don’t make it too pretty — remember, this is a rustic tart.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes, or until crust is golden. Cut into wedges and serve with mesclun salad dressed with vinaigrette, and the adult beverage of your choice.

This basic technique works well for zucchini tart, zucchini and tomato tart, and so forth. If you don’t love goat cheese, you can use shredded cheddar or jack cheese. You can also vary — or omit — the herb layer. I recommend putting the herbs between the cheese and the veggies because they actually add flavor that way. While it’s prettier, I suppose, to put them on top, in my experience they just dry out. Bleh.

If it’s dessert you’re after, spread the crust with sweetened mascarpone cheese and top it with peach slices that you’ve tossed very gently with a bit of cinnamon and sugar. If you’ve got access to ripe blackberries, add a few of those, too.  Finish and bake the tart as above.

Finally, if you want to make smaller “tartelettes,” use an empty, clean coffee can as a pastry cutter for individual servings, or a biscuit cutter for hors d’oeuvres. Assemble the tarts as above. You may want to adjust your bake time slightly, since these will probably brown faster. I start checking them at about 30 minutes.

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