Friday, September 19, 2008

Hold Onto Summer

With summer slipping through my fingers (60 degrees when I stepped outside to run this morning!), I resolved to get myself to the greenmarket this week and enjoy the still gorgeous produce. The tomatoes, especially, continue to look amazing, and when I saw a recipe for a Caramelized Tomato Tarte Tatin in Wednesday's paper, I knew I had to make it.

I somehow skipped over the "tatin" part when I first read the recipe. What really drew me in were the words "tomato" and "tart." (Incidentally, it was almost exactly a year ago that I discovered this magnificent tomato tart.) The ingredient list seemed perfectly reasonable--puff pastry, onions, sugar, sherry vinegar, olives, tomatoes and thyme--so I made a split-second decision to make it for dinner. Many farmers at the market were selling cherry tomatoes in gorgeous colors, and I asked one of the vendors if I could mix and match them. He thrust a plastic pint basket at me and said, "Go nuts." So I did, handpicking about a pound of red, orange, yellow and purple cherry and grape tomatoes.

And then I got home and read through the recipe--and realized this was a tarte tatin--French code word for "upside down." Riiiight! I've made plenty of apple tarte tatins, and actually love them for their rustic look and simplicity. And that's exactly what this tomato tarte tatin was. I caramelized thinly-sliced onions and set them in a bowl to cool. Then I made a caramel sauce in a nonstick skillet, added the tomatoes and olives, spread the onions on top, plus thyme, salt and pepper, and topped the whole thing with a round of puff pastry dough. Into a 425-degree oven it went, and about 20 minutes later it was golden brown. A quick (and you must do it quickly, there's no other way) flip over onto a plate, and we were ready to eat.

The tarte was both savory and sweet, dessert-y and dinner-y. We gobbled it up with a big green salad, and helped ourselves to seconds. The roasted tomatoes exploded in our mouths, the puff pastry crust slightly crunched, and we were happy to hold onto summer a little bit longer.--S

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