I had never made a tart before, but found myself with nearly all the ingredients needed one morning, and a bundle of fresh cherry tomatoes that had to be eaten. It is so simple to make, especially this recipe, since the crust is made of leftover cooked rice, instead of pastry.
We should consider tarts the catch-all of cooking. They can be prepared with any vegetables or fruits that need using, or even swirled with leftovers of all kinds. The ricotta and egg makes a simple, savory filling that would complement everything, so feel free to experiment.
I really enjoyed using the little, bright red cherry tomatoes because I’m sort of adverse to eating them raw (Someday I’ll like raw tomatoes! Until then..) Raw tomatoes are alright, but unless they are from a well-tended garden they tend to be gritty and tasteless. A roasted tomato, however, develops a sweetness that is just spectacular. In this tart the tomatoes are plopped in raw, and with an hour of gentle baking the sugars begin to enhance. Ricotta tarts like these are best served room temperature, or cold.
One reason many of you might lose interest in tart making is the pesky little crust. I’ll admit, I have no expertise in pastry crust making, and have bought the ready-made kind more than once–there is little fault in it. If you like making crust, please keep doing it. If you don’t, maybe experiment with this odd-ball crust that I prepared for this tart. I had a whole container of cooked white rice (brown would do nicely too) and decided that would be the simplest route. Pressed into the pan with a little butter and fresh whole wheat bread crumbs, and there it was! A very simple crust for a dish that is classically rustic anyway.
Tart is perfect for entertaining, or breakfast, or maybe as little appetizers. It is the kind of thing people don’t make often anymore, and so when you do they believe it is some difficult and impressive thing that took you hours of gentle coaxing– it really is a few stirs of a wooden spoon and the slicing of vegetables. Something about smooth, golden filling encased in delicate crust leaves an air of elegance that will wow those who come and join your dinner table– and the flavor will fully convince them of tart’s refined nature.
Ripe roasted tomatoes and fresh ricotta are flavors reminiscent of summer, and honestly it feels good to enjoy them still in the cold dark months ahead. Feelings and flavor are captured together, and so sunshine and warm skin are fuzed to a bite of fresh tart, melting off a little of my winter chill. Make a tart soon, and you too can enjoy a little summer sun in your kitchen.
You will need:
- 1 cup cooked rice of any kind (the stickier the better)
- 1/4 cup fresh whole wheat bread crumbs (unseasoned)
- 1 tbs butter, room temperature
- 1 heaping cup fresh ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 cup or more sliced tomato
- handful grated sharp cheese
- salt and pepper
- pinch nutmeg
Press the rice, breadcrumbs, and butter together into a pie pan, or fluted tart pan if you have it. Bake for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees, or until lightly browned. Mix the ricotta, cheese, egg, yolk, salt, pepper, and nutmeg together in a bowl. Pour into crust, and level out. Plop tomatoes on top in any pattern you like. Mix in salted meats, greens, olives, roasted vegetables–anything you like. Bake at 400 degrees for one hour, or until firmly set and browned (brush with olive oil to help browning.)