This time of year, as Miss Summer starts packing her bags to make room for fall, she gives one of her greatest gifts- the bounty of her gardens. This is the first year we haven’t had a vegetable garden since 2013 and it’s sad! We enjoy the whole process: prepping the soil, planning what to plant, visiting the nursery, getting our hands dirty and plants in the ground, watching things bloom and grow, and –the payoff– harvesting something for dinner. We had a few bumps in the road at the beginning, but know now what grows well and what doesn’t. One year, we even had a surprise sunflower pop up!
It’s a pleasure and quite satisfying to grow your own food, and we’ll resume our greenish thumb adventures next year. Sadly, the garden looks like this right now.
Sigh. The good news is that our farmers market is bustling and even our grocery stores have sections with produce from local farmers, so we’re able to get those sunkissed tomatoes and zucchinis and fresh herbs and everything else that’s in season right now. Last night, I made a very summery dish to enjoy al fresco (even though we needed jackets once the sun went down). This Tomato Zucchini Tart is simple and delicious!
First, I made the yummy goat cheese spread. I used two kinds- an Herbs de Provence and a four pepper flavor. I blended them in my mini food processor with fresh basil and thyme, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. It’s much easier to do if the cheese is at room temperature and it gets nice and creamy! See the flecks of herbs in there? My favorite little taste-tester approves!
Next, I sliced up a big, fat heirloom tomato and used my mandolin to slice a zucchini. To get some of the moisture out of the zucchini, I put it in a colander and sprinkled some salt over the slices. After 15 minutes or so, I squeezed out the liquid and set the bowl of zucchini aside until it was time to assemble the tarts.
For the crust, I used frozen puff pastry dough. I love these! I literally set it straight from the freezer on the counter, let it thaw for maybe a half an hour, and unfolded the dough right onto my sheet pans lined with parchment paper. I didn’t roll the dough out or anything. Simple!
It was a little tricky to spread the goat cheese mixture onto the crust because it’s floured. I was sure to leave a small uncovered edge, which I moistened with a little bit of olive oil so it wouldn’t dry out. To assemble the tarts, I just laid out the tomato and zucchini in a pretty pattern. I had some yellow Sungold tomatoes, too, so I halved those and added them for more color. I drizzled a bit of olive oil over both tarts and popped them into the oven. Lovely!
These pretty babies baked for about 20 minutes, until the edges of the pastry had puffed and browned a bit. Before serving, I sprinkled lots of fresh basil and thyme over the top. Hello, summer!
We enjoyed our beautiful tarts on the patio by candlelight with a simple arugula salad. I added crushed red pepper for heat and some cracked black pepper, too- I recommend both! Despite ingredients like goat cheese and buttery puff pastry, the texture is light. The tomato I chose was juicy and sweet and I liked the slight saltiness of the zucchini. The lemon in the goat cheese spread brightened everything up and the herbs added a yummy freshness. And the puff pastry is so flaky and delicate!
We ate our tarts while they were warm, but they could easily be served at room temperature. You could serve mini versions of this dish as an appetizer at a cocktail party. You could add other veggies or herbs. You could add an egg on top and eat it for breakfast! It was delicious. We might not have grown the tomato or zucchini in our own garden, but we got a couple of fabulous flavors of late summer nonetheless. I bet it will taste even better next year with our own harvest!
Tomato and Zucchini Tart
- One sheet of puff pastry dough, thawed
- 3 ounces goat cheese at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped and divided
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped and divided
- Zest from half of a small lemon
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 large heirloom tomato, sliced (plus leftover cherry tomatoes if you have them, halved)
- 1 large zucchini, sliced thin
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Crushed red pepper and cracked black pepper for serving (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Unfold puff pastry on the paper. Brush olive oil on the edges.
In a colander over a bowl, add the zucchini slices and the two teaspoons of salt. After 15 minutes, squeeze the liquid out of the zucchini and set it aside for assembly.
In a mini food processor (or use a fork and a bowl!), blend the goat cheese, half of the fresh herbs, the lemon zest and juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Spread the mixture evenly on the puff pastry, leaving a small uncovered edge. Arrange the tomatoes and zucchini in any way you like and drizzle with a tiny bit of olive oil.
Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry has puffed and is browned. Top the tart with the remaining fresh herbs. Serve al fresco with a fresh salad and dream about next year’s garden. Cheers to summer! YUM.
Hungry for more? Access my collection of recipes on the FOOD BLISS page.
One year ago: Camping with baby Oden and brand-new Willie the Camper!