My herbed ricotta tomato tart makes a delicious and stunning summer lunch with fresh and roasted heirloom tomatoes layered with ricotta over a flaky crust. This post is sponsored by Calphalon. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Beyond Sweet and Savory possible.
Tomato season arrives as early as June in San Diego. Beautiful, juicy heirloom tomatoes with all shapes and colors grace the farmers market stalls. In our kitchen, they go into a lot of salads, soups, pastas, toasts, and tarts. To celebrate tomato season, I’m partnering with Calphalon to share one of my favorite summer lunches, a delicious herbed ricotta tomato tart. This tart celebrates beautiful, vibrant heirloom tomatoes, fresh and roasted layered, over an herbed ricotta filling on a flaky puff pastry crust.
What Varieties of Tomatoes to Use
For this tart, look for a variety of shapes and sizes ranging from yellow, red, to tiger-striped, and purple-skinned. Some of my favorites are Cherokee Purple, Costoluto Genovese, Green Zebra, Brandywine, bumble bee, and grape tomatoes.
Tips for Baking with Frozen Puff Pastry
For the tart base, I used a good store bought puff pastry but you’re more than welcome to make your own. Don’t skim on an all butter puff pastry so you can enjoy those delicious buttery, flaky layers of dough similar to a pie crust. Premade puff pastry is super convenient and easy to use. Follow the tips below and you'll be rewarded with the perfect tomato tart.
- Thaw the puff pastry in the fridge the night before you want to use it. Since puff pastry is made with a lot of butter, thawing it in a cold environment allows the pastry to become pliable without softening too much.
- Unfold the puff pastry only when it's fully thawed otherwise you'll break or crack the pastry. Be gentle when handling the pastry.
- Flour your surface and rolling pin which allows the pastry to roll out smoothly and prevent it from sticking.
- Prick the pastry with a fork before freezing it.
- Chill the pastry before baking. I put mine in the freezer for 15 minutes while I preheat the oven. This step gives the butter a chance to re-solidify and melt slowly during baking and helps hold its shape.
- Place a baking sheet over the puff pastry before putting it in the oven so it won't puff up during baking.
This herbed ricotta tomato tart requires a bit of knife skills. You'll be slicing a lot of tomatoes and chiffonading basil leaves. Mastering these knife skills are essential to making your kitchen prep and cooking experiences more efficient and your food tasting better. In my seared scallops with mango salsa recipe, I shared the knife skills for slicing, dicing, and chopping. Today I'll show you how to chiffonade, a French technique used for cutting leafy green vegetables such as spinach, sorrel, Swiss chard, or flat-leaved herbs like basil and mint into long, thin strips or ribbons.
How to Chiffonade Herbs
Chiffonading herbs requires a very sharp knife. My go to knife for this job is the chef knife from the Calphalon Contemporary™ SharpIN™ Nonstick 13-Piece Cutlery Set. It features a uniquely designed nonstick-coated blade with a raised ridge that prevents food from sticking—making food prep easier and saving you time. I love the built-in ceramic sharpeners that automatically sharpen the knives with every use.
A chiffonade of basil is an easy way to add a bright touch of green and herby taste to the tomato tart. Cutting basil leaves using this technique allows the basil to release their natural oil and maximize its flavor. To chiffonade, stack about four to five basil leaves together, gently roll them into a cigar shape, hold the roll closed against the cutting board with your fingers curved, then use your knife to thinly slice the roll crosswise to create thin ribbons. The chiffonaded basil leaves will go into the ricotta filling as well as the garnish for the tomato tart.
Tips for Roasting Tomatoes
My tomato tart utilizes both roasted tomatoes and fresh tomatoes. Roasting tomatoes intensifies their flavor and sweetness. Slice the tomatoes crosswise about ¼ inch thick and put them in a single layer on a baking tray. Add a whole head of crushed garlic and a few sprigs of thyme. Drizzle olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and roast the tomatoes at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes the same time that you bake the puff pastry. As they roast, they lose moisture, start to caramelize around the edges, become softened and more flavorful.
Tips for Prepping Fresh Tomatoes
The fresh heirloom tomatoes will be layered on top of the roasted tomatoes for a contrast in texture and flavor. Use a variety of heirloom tomatoes with different colors, shapes, and sizes. Choose meatier tomatoes with less water content so the pastry doesn't become soggy. For the larger tomatoes, slice them crosswise about ¼ inch thick. Cut the cherry and small tomatoes in half. Once sliced, place them on a baking sheet lined with paper towels, sprinkle some sea salt over them, and let them sit for 15 minutes. The salt helps draw out the juice from the tomatoes and prevents your tart from becoming soggy while accentuating the sweetness of the tomatoes. Wait until you're ready to assemble the tart to prep the fresh tomatoes.
How to Make the Ricotta Filling
Ricotta cheese makes a great pairing with tomatoes. Make sure to use well drained ricotta cheese to prevent the tart from becoming soggy. I added a touch of creme fraiche to the ricotta to give it a little tang. The roasted garlic along with chiffonaded basil leaves lend an herby kick to the ricotta. All the ingredients go into a food processor and get blended until smooth. If it's too liquidy, leave the mixture in the fridge for an hour to firm up.
When to Assemble the Tomato Tart
To ensure the pastry stays extra crisp, assemble the tomato tart right before serving. I like to wait until the puff pastry has completely cooled down which takes about 25-30 minutes. Spread the herbed ricotta over the puff pastry. Layer the roasted tomatoes over the ricotta followed by the fresh heirloom tomatoes. Finish the tart with the chiffonaded basil leaves and freshly ground pepper.
What to Serve the Tomato Tart With
The herbed ricotta tomato tart is great on its own but I like to serve it with a peppery arugula salad for a complete meal. It also goes great with a tomato soup for a double dose of tomato deliciousness.
This delicious herbed ricotta tomato tart is the ultimate summer lunch. A mixture of fresh and roasted tomatoes layered with herby ricotta over a flaky crust brings all the textures and flavors. The vibrant heirloom tomatoes and their intense flavor make this tasty tart a stunning treat for the senses.
Herbed Ricotta Tomato Tart
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry (from 17.3-oz package), thawed overnight in the fridge
- 1 lb heirloom tomatoes
- ¼ cup basil leaves, chiffonade
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1 lb heirloom tomatoes
- 2 tbsps olive oil
- A few sprigs of thyme
- A head of garlic, cloves, peeled and crushed
- ¼ teaspoon flaky sea salt
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Herbed ricotta filling
- 1 cup ricotta cheese, drained
- 2 tbsps creme fraiche
- ¼ cup basil leaves, chiffonade
- Roasted garlic cloves from roasted tomatoes
- ¼ tsp flaky sea salt
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- Working on a floured surface, roll out the puff pastry into a 9-by-11-inch rectangle, trimming any uneven edges. Prick the inside with a fork every few inches, leaving a ½-inch border. Place it on a piece of parchment paper and put it in the freezer for 15 minutes.
- When ready to bake, lay a sheet of parchment on top of the puff pastry and another baking sheet on top to prevent it from rising unevenly as it bakes.
- While the puff pastry is in the freezer, prepare the roasted tomatoes.
- To make the roasted tomatoes, use a sharp knife to cut the tomatoes into ¼-inch-thick slices. Place the tomato slices in a single layer on top of a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Tuck the thyme and garlic cloves into different areas of the pan.Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and set a rack in the middle of the oven.
- Place both the puff pastry and tray with tomatoes and bake them in the oven for 20 minutes.
- Remove both the puff pastry and roasted tomatoes and let them cool down completely.
- To make the filling, in a food processor, combine ricotta, creme fraiche, roasted garlic cloves, and basil leaves. Season lightly with salt and pepper and process until the mixture is light and smooth. Refrigerate the mixture until ready to assemble the tart.
- For the fresh tomatoes line a large baking sheet with 2 layers of paper towels. Use a sharp knife to cut the larger tomatoes into ¼-inch-thick slices and halve the cherry tomatoes. Set the sliced tomatoes on top in a single layer. In a small bowl, combine salt and pepper. Season the tomatoes evenly on both sides, cover with another paper towel and let sit, 15 minutes, allowing the salt to draw moisture out of the tomatoes.
- To assemble the tart, spread the ricotta mixture with an offset spatula across the surface of the puff pastry leaving a half inch border. Place the roasted tomatoes over the ricotta. Layer the fresh tomatoes over the roasted tomatoes. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper. Garnish with the chiffonaded basil and serve immediately.