Tomato and Homemade Ricotta Tart
I had these beautiful, heirloom tomatoes in all sizes and colors leftover from the photo shoot – probably the last ones that I’ll see from Joel Thiebault’s summer crop — and couldn’t wait to do something with them. Problem was, though, the water heater in the kitchen broke, and without hot water, you can’t do dishes, and if you can’t do dishes, well, you really shouldn’t be in the kitchen messing things up. So I stayed away for a week, and the tomatoes just sat there, wondering where I’d gone, I’m sure, but getting even sweeter by the day.
I knew that I wanted to do a tomato something, but wasn’t sure what, but as luck would have it, I also had some buttermilk in the fridge – another leftover — and I figured I’d whip up some homemade ricotta, slice up some tomatoes, throw it into a tart shell, and call it dinner.
Now, you don’t have to make homemade ricotta, but it’s so easy, and super-fast to make, and tastes so much better than the stuff that you buy. We’re talking about a tart with three main ingredients, so why not take that extra 10 minutes and just make your own ricotta?
It really does make all the difference in the world. Plus, then you can call yourself a cheesemaker. People will be so impressed.
I’m always throwing arugula on top of whatever I can, so I put a handful on top of my tart slice (s), and drizzled a bit of that spicy olive oil that you buy for pizzas on top. It’s not jalapeño-hot, but there’s a nice, warm kick to it which isn’t too overpowering.
Of course, if you don’t have any more tomatoes, you can always do something else here – I’ve made this with eggplant, too, and plan to try it out with roasted pumpkin soon. It’s just a simple thing, this little tart. Play around as you wish.
Tomato and Homemade Ricotta Tart
Makes one 11-inch/28 cm tart
1 wheat-oatmeal tart crust, prebaked (recipe here)
1 cup of homemade ricotta (recipe below)
a few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed
sea salt and pepper
about 1 pound of cherry tomatoes, halved (you may not need all of these)
a few handfuls of arugula, for serving (this is optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C.
2. Mix up your homemade ricotta with a little olive oil (1 to 2 tablespoons should do it – I use just enough to make the ricotta spreadable), some fresh thyme leaves and salt and pepper. Spread this all over the bottom of your prebaked tart shell, add the tomatoes, and finish with a light drizzle of olive oil and a few more fresh thyme leaves. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the tomatoes are soft. Serve warm or cold, with a heap of arugula on each slice.
Makes about 2 cups
1 quart/4 cups of milk
1 cup of buttermilk
1 cup of cream
a big pinch of sea salt
1. Cut out a piece of cheesecloth and lay it in a colander, set over a medium-size bowl.
2. Put the milk, buttermilk, cream and salt in a large, heavy saucepan and turn the heat on medium-high. Stir every now and then so the milk doesn’t scorch on the bottom of the pan. When it boils, turn the heat to the lowest setting, and watch the curds come to the surface. With a slotted spoon, gently remove the curds and put them in the cheesecloth-lined colander nearby. They’ll continue to bubble up for about 5 minutes, then you can turn off the heat. Don’t squeeze your curds with the cheesecloth; rather, just let this drain for 15 minutes – and voila! – you’ve got ricotta. Remove the cheesecloth and put your ricotta in a plastic container and keep it in the fridge. It’s only good for about 2 days, so eat it quickly.