I love savory tarts made with fresh seasonal vegetables but for some reason I only seem to make them during the six months we spend in Umbria each year. I can eat these tarts for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and in general they tend to be pretty healthy options if I take care what I put into them. We were given a package of buffalo milk ricotta cheese as a gift from the cheese guy after we spent a fortune on cheese from Campagna last week and although we had used up most of the other cheese, that package of ricotta kept asking to be used every time I opened my refrigerator. I went through my recipe files and decided to use my ricotta to make a simple tomato and ricotta tart. The tomatoes are not really in season here locally though we are able to buy some pretty good tomatoes that must be imported. Despite the fact the large cherry tomatoes we now have available are pretty flavorful, I decided to slow roast them first to boost their flavor even more. I would suggest slow roasting large cherry tomatoes or plum tomatoes using my Roasted Tomato recipe unless it is a time of year when you have fresh seasonal tomatoes available. If you were making this tart in the fall when you have access to great big, ripe beefsteak tomatoes for example, I’d simply slice them thinly and arrange them on top of the ricotta filling in an overlapping pattern. Tomatoes like that do not need roasting!
When it came to making the crust for my tart, I initially thought I’d go crustless with just a sprinkle of breadcrumbs underneath but I had an olive oil pastry recipe from Colavita I’ve been meaning to try so I decided to use that. I have been doing my best to do a lot of my baking with olive oil rather than with butter lately with somewhat mixed results. This pastry had rave reviews though so I decided to use it for my tart and it turned out great. You can use any ricotta cheese you prefer, but homemade is really best. If you are stuck using store brand ricotta, try draining it in a sieve over a bowl for a half an hour or so first to drain off any excess water first. I seem to have odd shaped tart pans here in Italy, so I used a 12 X 8 inch rectangular pan, but a 12 inch round tart pan would work just fine. This tart is best served at room temperature when the flavors really come together, so if you must refrigerate it, let it sit out at room temperature for at least 30 minutes to an hour before you cut into it.
Deborah Mele 2011
Olive Oil Pastry:
- 2/3 Cup Olive Oil
- 2 1/2 Cups All-purpose Flour
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
- 1/2 Cup Ice Water
- 1 Egg
- 1 Tablespoon White Vinegar
- 1 1/2 Cups Ricotta Cheese
- 1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
- 2 Medium Eggs
- Salt & Pepper
- Tomatoes of Choice - Either Oven Roasted Tomatoes or Sliced Ripe Beefsteak Tomatoes (See Note Above)
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper
- To prepare the olive oil pastry, first place the olive oil in the freezer until it is almost frozen.
- Place the flour in a bowl and add the baking powder, salt, and dried oregano. In a cup, mix together the egg, vinegar and ice cold water.
- Once your oil is almost solid, cut it into your flour mixture until you have pea sized crumbs.
- Add the vinegar/egg liquid slowly, mixing it into the flour until the mixture comes together as a dough.
- As with any pastry, be careful not to over handle the dough.
- Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out thinly to fit inside your tart pan.
- There is enough dough to make a double crust pie, so wrap up the leftover dough and freeze it for another use.
- Lay your rolled sheet of dough into your tart pan, trimming the edges.
- Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- For the tart, first preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Remove your tart pan from the refrigerator and prick the bottom all over with the prongs of a fork.
- Once the oven has reached 350 degrees, bake the pastry for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven.
- Mix together the ricotta, eggs, and grated Parmesan cheese.
- Season with salt and pepper and spread this mixture evenly over the bottom of your tart pan.
- Arrange your tomatoes on top, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with some salt and pepper and bake for about 30 to 35 minutes or until the ricotta filling has set, and the pastry is lightly browned.
- Cool to room temperature before serving.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1 square
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 458 Total Fat: 29g Saturated Fat: 7g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 21g Cholesterol: 84mg Sodium: 424mg Carbohydrates: 36g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 2g Protein: 14g