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Roasted Tomato-Basil Tart with Sharp Cheddar

In Basil, Breakfast / Brunch, Cheddar, Cheese, Creme Fraiche, Herbs, Meatless, Onion, Pies, Tarts, Crisps , Recipe, Tomato, Vegetarian
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For those of you itching with the early onset of Spring fever and longing for the flavors of a new season, this post is for you.  Like many of you reading this blog I seldom buy fresh tomatoes once the height of tomato season has passed, preferring instead to cook with high quality canned tomatoes through the fall, winter and spring.  As is the case with their seasonal compatriots, asparagus and corn, I'd rather go without than suffer through tasteless, woody tomatoes in the off-season.

That is unless, of course, I'm cooking a recipe that calls for roasting the tomatoes prior to using them.  Roasting tomatoes low and slow is akin to waving a magic wand over them that renders them soft, sweet and just bursting with umami amped tomato goodness.  By slowly removing most of the moisture from the tomato, roasting super-concentrates their flavor, so even off-season, bland tomatoes can be transformed into drool-worthy little gems.

Tart Collage
This recipe calls for Roma tomatoes which are easily found year-round, and combines them with fresh basil, onion, and the best sharp cheddar cheese you can find.  Can't find fresh basil where you are?  Substitute with other fresh herbs that you might have handy, or use dried herbs if you must in a pinch.  This tart is awesome in the Summer when tomatoes and basil are abundant, but is also terrific in the colder months when you need a little taste of sunshine to brighten your day.

Cheers - Steve


Roasted Tomato-Basil Tart with Sharp Cheddar

by: Mitchell Rosenthall from his cookbook: 

Cooking My Way Back Home: Recipes from San Francisco's Town Hall, Anchor & Hope, and Salt House

(Print Friendly Version)



for the roasted tomatoes:

  • 2 pounds plum tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced rosemary
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 

for the tart dough:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
  • 5 tablespoons ice water
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 pound sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup chiffonade-cut (sliced) fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons crème fraiche (or sour cream or plain greek yogurt)
  • 1 large egg whisked with 1 tablespoon whole milk, for wash



for the roasted tomatoes:

  1. Heat the oven to 225℉.
  2. Cut each tomato in half top to bottom and arrange it, cut side up, on a rimmed baking sheet.  Drizzle evenly with the EVOO, sprinkle with the rosemary, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Roast the tomatoes for 4 hours, or until the moisture is largely removed (see photo above).  remove from the oven and cool completely.

for the tart dough:

  1. In a bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.  Scatter the butter over the flour mixture and, using your fingers, gently press the butter and flour together until it resembles a coarse meal.  Drizzle the ice water over the top and, using a fork, gently stir and toss just until the dough comes together.
  2. gather the dough into a ball and place it on a lightly floured work surface.  Flatten the dough into ta thick disk and wrap in plastic wrap.  refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.


  1. Position the rack in the lower 3rd of the oven and heat it to 375℉.
  2. In a saute pan, heat the 2 tablespoons of oil over low heat and stir in the onion.  Cover and sweat over low heat for 10-15 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent.  Do not allow the onion to color.  Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper, and let cool completely.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to a round about 12" in diameter.  carefully transfer the round to the parchment.
  4. Layer half the cheese on the dough round, leaving a 1" border uncovered around the edge.  In a small bowl, combine the cooled onion, the crème fraiche and the basil; mix well.  Spread the onion mixture over the cheese.  Top with the roasted tomatoes, then cover with the remaining cheese.  Season with salt and pepper and top with a drizzle of EVOO.  
  5. Fold the uncovered edge of the tart onto itself to form uniformly spaced pleats every few inches around the perimeter.  Brush the upturned edge with the egg wash.
  6. Bake the tart for about 50 minutes ( start checking at 40 minutes), until the crust is a nice golden brown.  Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack, and let cool.  Slice and serve.

Serves 8





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"Oui, Chef" exists as an extension of my efforts to teach my kids a few things about cooking, and how their food choices over time effect not only their own health, but that of our local food communities and our planet at large. By sharing some of our cooking experiences, I hope to inspire other families to start spending more time together in the kitchen, passing on established familial food traditions, and starting some new ones. Read more...
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