Rustic Tomato Tart with Thyme and Parmesan

It may be fall but there are still plenty of lovely late summer tomatoes to be found at the market. I made this tart early last week for the first time and it immediately assumed a place on my “favourite summer tomato recipes” list.

I love the simplicity of this tart. Just a few well chosen ingredients. Beautiful ripe tomatoes, some sprigs of thyme, a bit of grated Parmesan cheese. Making pastry tends to send me into a nervous tizzy but I absolutely know this is one fear that I need to conquer. At home I always use my food processor to make sweet or savory pastry but not having access to one here in Miami I knew I was going to have to make this tart the old fashioned way.

My Baba made pastry long before the invention of the food processor and the blueberry pies that I remember vividly from my childhood boasted some of the most tender, flaky flavourful pastry I have ever had.  I headed to the cookware store and purchased a pastry blender. I fired up the computer and looked online for some sort of “pastry-by-hand” tutorial. I set to work.

I chilled the bowl with the flour, thyme, salt and parmesan. I froze the chunks of butter. I blended until the ingredients were combined and the butter resembled small peas. I added the water and mixed and added a bit more water and brought the dough together. I kneaded just a very little bit. I gathered the dough into a ball, wrapped it in plastic wrap and allowed it to take a well deserved rest in the fridge for a couple of hours.

I sliced some beautiful heirloom tomatoes and salted them and allowed them to drain for an hour or so.

I rolled out the dough on a lightly floured pieced of parchment and then sprinkled on some finely grated parmesan cheese. I layered on my drained and dried tomatoes and pleated the dough up around the tomatoes. A few grinds of pepper and a drizzle of good olive oil and then into the oven. I crossed my fingers.

Then the magic happened. The most lovely, herbal smell began to scent the apartment. I did a bit of hand wringing because I never trust my pastry making skills and a delicious smell does not guarantee a tender crust. After 35 minutes a beautiful, browned, fragrant tart emerged from the oven.

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Well, at least it looked good. I sighed, relaxed, smiled and allowed the tart to cool. I took a couple of tablespoons of salsa verde I had in a bowl in the fridge and mixed them into 1/2 a cup of crème fraîche.

I cut a slice  and put it on a plate. I spooned a bit of the salsa verde crème fraîche alongside.  I sprinkled the top with a bit of coarse salt.

Then, I took a bite. I hope it wasn’t beginner’s luck because this was one of the best tomatoes tarts I have ever, ever had. And the pastry? The best I have ever made and one of the best I have ever tasted. Top five for sure. I will try this when I get home and have access to a food processor but there really is something to be said for making pastry by hand.

If you are nervous about making pastry I urge you to give this thyme scented pastry a try. It pairs beautifully with the tomatoes but I bet it would be good with slices of zucchini or summer squash and a sprinkling of feta. Or how about some wild mushrooms and some Gruyère cheese?

I see a lot more of these tarts in my cooking future. This week, next week and the week after too. Pastry practise makes perfect.

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12 Responses to Rustic Tomato Tart with Thyme and Parmesan

  1. Bonnie says:

    Yum! I will have to try that one. Last week, while canning 75 pounds of tomatoes, i made an apple pie to eat with coffee after our work was done. The crust was lousy. I HATE that! I feel I need to prove myself again! After 200+ pounds of tomatoes being processed in my kitchen this last week, I almost think I am done with those suckers until next August – but then again, they are pretty irresistable! I am imagining the scent that must be in the kitchen when it is baking, and it’s making me hungry. Have you ever made homemade gnocci? You asked for technique ideas a few posts ago, and that is my request! xoB

  2. Fabulous. This tart is in my future, my near future. Thanks!

  3. Bonnie: Interesting as you and I must be on the same wavelength. I literally just bough a potato ricer (yet another thing that I will be dragging home with me) as I was absolutely struck by the desire to make gnocchi. It makes no sense as I always equate gnocchi making with crisp fall days and combining it with stewed tomatoes, fried sage and brown butter or duck confit and roasted mushrooms and garlic. Whatever, I will turn up the air conditioning and get to work and I will post a recipe soon, just for you!

    Denise: So glad that you are back.

  4. style fare says:

    Well isn’t this lovely! The sliced tomatoes alone look like art! I’m getting back into tart-mode with the onset of fall (although honestly, it’s still pretty warm and muggy in New York these days) and I love that this is still fresh and bright. Thanks for sharing, Julie! 🙂


  5. cathy says:

    ok – i am attempting these tarts tomorrow night with the yummy mushroom lasanga, for a friend who just got back from a cooking school in italy – am i crazy ?? any bench notes?
    i had an amazing gnocchi lesson from my friend Roberta one day, although i am still too scared to try it- cant wait for yours!! It is getting cooler here and the leaves are turning , a good stay in your bunker weekend .Have a great weekend, will let you know how my dinner goes (will serve much wine to keep things rolling)cathy oxoxo

  6. Hana: Thanks for that. I am enjoying your photos of your trip to Spain. Looks like some amazing food was enjoyed. Loved the “pay by the skewer” place!

    Cathy: Good for you. Okay, as far as the lasagna, be generous with the cream. A little more that a little less so that it is creamy and not dry. As far as the tart just tackle it with confidence and if you are making the pastry by hand you can manhandle it a bit more than if you were using a food processor. Whichever method, ensure that the dough really does come together in a cohesive ball and let it chill for at least an hour preferably a bit longer before you start to roll it out. Chill it again before you layer on the Parmesan and tomatoes. It is such a rustic looking tart so it doesn’t need to look “perfect”. If you run into any problems mid-cooking just fire me off an email ( and I can talk you through. I am sure it will be a stellar evening! xo J

    • cathy says:

      fabulous evening– the tart was yummy , crisp pastry and oh so good tomatoes
      the lasanga was beyond belief!!!!! even peter had 2nds and 3rds– his regular lasanga was good but there was almost a whole pan left. I had seen it on your site so many times but was woried- can it really be so simple and so good– yup, it sure can – thanks julie
      thinking of you in the sun while the katsura trees on my block turn yellow ,gold and orange
      cathy xoxo

  7. Joan Spiller says:

    WOW this looks amazing and I LOVED how you described the process (incl the tizzy, I do the same with pastry making, lol!) thanks for the idea .. I am making a similar “style” tart tonight with roasted beets and goat cheese on caramelised onions so was searching for ideas on how best to handle the dough 🙂

  8. This looks absolutely scrumptious. I have never made a tomato tart before but after reading this post, I think I might just have to make it this weekend. Question: will sour cream work in lieu of creme fraiche?
    PS: I love that you included the measurements in grams. I’m not a very confident baker but seeing those metric measurements reassures me.

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