This is a recipe for summer days when tomatoes of all shapes and sizes fill the farmer's market. A crisp polenta crust cradles a creamy ricotta and goat cheese mixture, but the true star are the heirloom tomatoes lightly sprinkled with fresh thyme. Inspired by and adapted from Heirloom Tomato Tart with Ricotta and Basil from Williams-Sonoma.
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/4 cup fine polenta or cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, small diced
1 large egg
1 tablespoon room temperature unsalted butter
12 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese
2 1/2 ounces softened plain goat cheese
8 ounces finely grated parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 pint heirloom, grape or cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup pesto (optional for serving)
Step 1In a medium bowl mix together flour, polenta or cornmeal, and salt. Using a pastry cutter or fork work the diced butter into the dry ingredients until the butter is in very small pieces and the mixture is just starting to come together. Add the egg and mix in with a fork until the dough forms a rough ball. The mixture will be fairly dry, resembling shortbread.
Step 2Turn the dough into an ungreased 9” tart pan with a removable bottom and using the floured, flat side of a measuring cup press into the bottom and along the sides of the pan in an even layer. Even the edges with a butter knife, or by flattening with the measuring cup.
Step 3Remove the shell from freezer and place on a baking sheet. Using a brush or clean hands, spread the room temperature butter on a sheet of aluminum foil large enough to cover the tart shell with some overhang. Smooth the buttered side of the foil along the bottom of the tart shell and up the sides. Fill with pie weights or dried beans.
Step 4Bake the foil covered tart shell for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the pie weights and foil from the shell and using a fork, prick the bottom of the shell – this will allow any air to release. Replace the uncovered tart shell in the oven and bake for an additional 5 to 8 minutes until it is lightly golden and crisp. Set tart shell aside on a baking rack and allow to cool completely.
Step 5While the tart shell is cooling, assemble the ricotta filling. In a medium bowl, whisk together the ricotta and softened goat cheese until smooth, then stir in the finely grated parmesan, kosher salt, pepper, and fresh thyme. Cut the tomatoes – a serrated knife will work best – into 1/4 to 1/8” slices.
Step 6Once the tart shell is completely cooled, spoon the ricotta mixture into the shell and smooth with a spatula or knife. Layer the sliced tomatoes on top of the cheese in any pattern or arrangement you like – this is a moment to be creative! If you’re a perfectionist like me here’s a tip: after the tomatoes are sliced practice layering on your cutting board or a piece of foil before you try to arrange them on the tart. Sprinkle with a few fresh thyme leaves, salt and pepper.\r\n\r\nServe as is, or with a spoonful of pesto sauce.