Inside the Picnic Basket: Heirloom Tomato Tart

We all have a meal to prepare for Diner en Blanc to pack inside our picnic baskets for the most enchanting evening of the summer. In this new series, we bring the stories and recipes of local chefs and food lovers to help inspire your own magical meal. We are pleased to present the fourth installment of Diner en Blanc inspired recipes!

Kathy Gold is the owner and Executive Chef of In The Kitchen Cooking School, in Haddonfield, NJ, where she and her staff of fabulous chefs offer private events, teach classes for all levels of cooks from the complete novice to classes for professionals, and hold team building events for corporations. Chef Gold is the President of the Philadelphia Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier, and Local Exchange Coordinator for Women Chefs and Restaurateurs.

Having to miss the first Diner En Blanc in the USA (NYC, 2011) because of a computer muddle, Kathy was thrilled to learn that Philadelphia would host our own Diner En Blanc and she jumped at the chance to volunteer as a Table Leader. Last year’s Philadelphia Diner En Blanc remains one of her best memories, and she has been planning for this year’s for months! The below post comes directly from Kathy to us at Diner en Blanc Philadelphia 2013.

On my menu, I am celebrating the best of our region’s summer bounty, “Frenchified!” I will have Heirloom Tomato Tart, Tapenade, Smoked Salmon Rillettes, Baguette, Peaches in Spiced Syrup with Champagne, and Blueberry Nectarine Gallette. (Kathy, can we just come sit at your table with you? We can break the rules to squeeze in three people…!!)

photo-23 (1)
Heirloom Tomato Tart with Caramelized Onions, Gruyere, and Basil Oil

1 sheet frozen puff pastry (preferably Dufour), thawed
4 pounds onions, peeled and sliced very thinly
4 pounds assorted heirloom tomatoes
1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves
1 1/2 cups shredded Gruyere
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Flour to roll pastry
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water (optional)
Basil oil (see below)
Heat the oven to 400 F. Heat a heavy skillet over medium low heat and add enough olive oil to generously coat the bottom of the pan.  Add onions and toss gently.  Cook the onions over medium low heat until deeply caramelized but not burnt, about 2 hours. Season during cooking with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper (if desired). Stir about every 6 minutes or so. Add thyme leaves during cooking time. When finished cooking, set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, fill a small bowl with water and have it nearby. Sprinkle a bit of flour on a clean work surface and roll the pastry to a rectangle with a thickness of about 1/8 inch. Lift and turn the pastry every so often as you roll it to make certain it is not sticking to your work surface. Use flour as needed.  Roll the rectangle around your rolling pin and transfer it to a Silpat or parchment lined sheet pan. Dip a fingertip in water and run it along the edges of the pastry. Fold in each edge of pastry about 1/2 inch to make a border. With the tines of a fork, press the inside edge of the pastry to help seal the border.  With the same fork, make holes all over the pastry (but not the border.) Brush the border with the beaten egg mixture (this will help the pastry become golden brown and shiny).
Place sheet pan in the oven and bake until the pastry is gorgeously brown and puffed, about 15-20 minutes.  Remove pastry, turn off the oven, and sprinkle the shredded Gruyere evenly over the center of the pastry, and return pan to the oven for about 5 minutes.  (This will melt the cheese.) Remove the pan.
Cut tomatoes and sprinkle them with sea salt.  When the pastry has cooled, and the onions are cooked and cool, assemble tart by layering on the onions, and then the tomatoes.  Drizzle with basil oil.
Basil Oil
1 bunch fresh basil
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt, if desired
Place basil in a blender and with the motor running, drizzle in oil. Process until smooth. Season with salt, if desired.  Strain and reserve oil.
Thank you, Kathy! Your tart sounds like a delicious addition to any picnic basket!

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