Since I began my own food blog, I've found myself more open-minded when it comes to the kitchen. New flavors, new tastes, unexpected combinations—I can't seem to get enough of it. I never expected to start inventing my own recipes or have a "to-make" list a mile long (one of my fears when starting a blog was that I would run out of ideas. Ha!) Even now, having shared dozens of my own creations with you, I still find it hard to believe. You see, growing up, I was one of the world's pickiest eaters.
My poor mother certainly had a handful when trying to feed me. Rarely would she find a food I would actually eat and enjoy. There was no seafood, no vegetables, and no chocolate (can you imagine?). Even "different" kinds of french fries (aka not McDonald's) were shunned from my picky palate. Perhaps worst of all was my absolute dislike of tomatoes. I would have nothing to do with them. No pasta sauce, no lasagna, no ketchup. I preferred my pizza to have no sauce at all.
Basically, I was a tomato hating picky eating nightmare (sorry mom!).
Gradually, tomatoes managed to sneak themselves into my diet. I would get lazy after constantly scraping the sauce off my pizza (it's a lot of work!). Then ketchup won me over. But it was pasta sauce that took the most time. For most of my life, when my mother would whip up a spaghetti dinner, she'd save some plain noodles for me to eat for my dinner. And I would eat them just that way. Plain.
It wasn't until a couple years ago that my love for tomatoes began to flourish. I can only imagine a switch in my head (or mouth) must have flipped, because I suddenly and unexpectedly couldn't get enough tomatoes. Last year around this time, every single meal I cooked for myself had tomatoes in some form or another. Pasta with fresh cherry tomatoes. Pitas stuffed with tofu, greens, and sun-dried tomatoes. I would often eat tomatoes like apples, as I brought them for lunch at work or to snack at home.
I had turned into a red fruit loving, going-to-turn-pink-from-all-the-tomatoes kind of gal.
When I lost my sense of taste last spring, tomatoes were one of the few foods I could eat and truly enjoy. Though I could not taste, the texture of the tomato was so diverse—meaty and juicy, yet both soft and firm—that I virtually ate tomatoes for that entire week I was ill. Since then, I've really grown to respect the texture of a good tomato, whether raw, roasted, or cooked down into a sauce.
The fact that I can now eat (and absolutely enjoy) this Garden Tomato and Basil Tart really showcases how far my love for tomatoes has come. Now to take my tomato loving one step further—desserts.
I'm only kind of joking.
This Garden Tomato and Basil Tart truly does taste fresh from the garden. A whole wheat crust is infused with olive oil and dried basil. On top are layers of Gruyere cheese, fresh basil, and garden ripe tomatoes. The whole tart is then sprinkled with freshly ground pepper and sea salt before roasting in the oven. The concept is similar to a margherita pizza, but has so much more flavor. This dish will certainly rouse your taste buds, giving them a bit of a wake-up call. This is the perfect dish to use up all those extra garden tomatoes.
One Year Ago: Dark Chocolate Raspberry Oatmeal Muffins
Garden Tomato & Basil Tart
Yields 10-inch tart
Olive Oil Tart Crust
Adapted from Chocolate & Zucchini
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup cold water, plus extra if necessary
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (175 degrees C).
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, salt, and basil. Add the olive oil and water and mix until it comes together as a dough. If dough will not form a ball, add more water in teaspoon increments until it does so. The dough should not be sticky and wet.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to form a 12 inch circle. Transfer to tart pan, repairing dough if necessary. Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork before baking. Bake for 10-12 minutes before removing and allow to cool slightly before filling.
Tomato Basil Filling
1-1 1/2 cups freshly grated Gruyere cheese, loosely packed
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
4-6 ripe tomatoes, sliced into 1/4-inch pieces (cherry tomatoes may also be used)
Freshly ground salt & pepper, to taste
Layer cheese, tomatoes, and basil on pre-baked tart crust. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste . Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until fragrant and lightly browned. Cool for a few minutes before serving.