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Florida Tomatoes Create a Tasty Tart

Chef Anne shows us a great way to grow your own tomatoes and a super fast recipe to make with them.

We're fortunate in Florida to be able to grow so many wonderful fruits and vegetables year round. In our restaurant garden, we grow tomatoes and herbs in an eco-friendly, self-watering system, using five gallon buckets. Since the plants are in containers, the bugs and diseases that usually attack the plants when they are on the ground no longer are a problem. They thrive in this system.

Now that my tomato plants are just a couple of weeks away from bursting with delicious fruit, I've been craving recipes with tomatoes. This fast and easy tomato, feta and onion tart is one of my favorites. It's a perfect light meal for these long, hot summer days.

Tomato, Feta and Onion Tart

(Serves 4)

  •  1 (9-inch) pie dough round (not a prepared pie crust)
  •  3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  •  1 large, sweet (vidalia) onion thinly sliced
  •  8 ounces of crumbled feta cheese (gorgonzola and blue cheeses work well, too)
  •  1 pound ripe tomatoes thinly sliced
  •  fresh basil leaves

Directions
Pre-heat oven to 350 F. If you don't have a tart pan, a 9-inch, round baking dish will work.

  1. On a floured surface, roll your dough into an 11-inch circle. Place it in the pan and press up to the sides of the pan. Lightly prick the bottom of the dough with a fork. Cut a foil or parchement paper circle to fit the bottom of the crust. Place some dry beans or any oven safe weight all over this covering and bake on the middle oven rack until the crust is pale golden around the rim. It should take about 20 minutes. Carefully remove weights and foil and bake until golden all over, or about 8 to 10 minutes longer. Let it cool on rack.
  2. While tart shell is baking, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a heavy skillet on medium heat and cook the onions, stirring frequently until golden brown, or about 15 to 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Pre-heat the broiler.
  4. Spread the onion all over bottom of tart shell and top with feta cheese (reserve enough cheese to sprinkle on top later).  Now arrange the tomato slices on top of the cheese layer, overlapping them in concentric circles. Sprinkle reserved cheese on top of tomatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste and drizzle the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over top of tart.
  5. Cut a strip of foil to cover edge of crust to keep from burning. Place tart pan on a baking sheet about 7 to 8 inches away from broiler heat until cheese starts to just get brown, 3 to 4 minutes.
  6. Remove from broiler, top with fresh basil leaves and serve.

Pair this tart with a glass of freshly squeezed lemonade or homemade iced tea. Or try it with a nice chardonnay.

Chef's Tip: My hubby loves this dish, but he also loves a meatier version, so when I make it for him, I add some crispy bacon, ground beef or prosciutto. If you prefer seafood, try adding some cooked shrimp or salmon. This is a recipe that gets even better with additions, so be creative and enjoy!

In Dunedin, your best bet for farm fresh tomatoes are:

  • on Bayshore Boulevard.
  • The Dunedin every Saturday in Pioneer Park.
  • The Farmers Market at North Pinellas Historical Museum every Sunday (at the corner of Curlew and Belcher roads).
  • (must be ordered in advance).

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