This week, goat cheese entered my brain and set up camp indefinitely. It is one of those “love it or hate it” cheeses, and this girl straight-up LOVES it. It was all I could think about! How could I incorporate goat cheese into a recipe in the very near future? What could I make? When could I make it?
Thank goodness for Pinterest (wanna follow me?)… because I typed “goat cheese” into the search box and then proceeded to get lost for an hour in all the delectable-looking recipes. I have some serious cooking to do if I ever want to try all the goat cheese recipes I pinned.
Herbed Goat Cheese & Tomato Tart (original recipe from Williams Sonoma)
I decided that a buttery crust, slathered in herbed goat cheese, topped with gorgeous heirloom tomatoes, and sprinkled with baby basil leaves and balsamic vinegar was exactly what my taste buds were craving. And this tart did not disappoint!
If you’re looking for something easy and fresh that also packs an impressive visual punch… bada bing! You’re welcome. This is an especially perfect use for all the gorgeous tomatoes you will no doubt be growing in your garden this summer.
And while we’re on the topic of tomatoes, I just need to take this moment to say: Unless you are using good tomatoes, you need not bother making this. Good tomatoes (and of course, goat cheese) are the star of this recipe. Do NOT go to Wal-Mart and pick a few from the huge bin of flavorless Romas. You either need to grow tomatoes, know someone who grows them, go to a farmers’ market, or get the fancy organic local ones from your grocery store. (*Sheepishly stepping off of soapbox now.)
This recipe is very straight-forward. I’m only going to show you process shots for the tart shell because a few of those steps may be unfamiliar.
Oh and while we’re on the topic of tart shells (aka: pie crust)… please do not use store-bought pie crust for this. For one thing, it is not good. Using it makes what could be a great pie into a mediocre one. For another, it REALLY ISN’T that hard to make it yourself! Really!! You can do it in a food processor in a tenth of the time it takes you to drive to the grocery store and buy one. And for another, when you make it yourself you can use whole wheat flour, which adds awesome flavor and a rustic look! (*Again, sheepishly stepping off this soapbox, for the second time today.)
The dough comes together in seconds! You just pulse four ingredients together in a food processor.
Then dump the contents of the food processor onto a sheet of plastic wrap, pat it into a disc, and voila!
You have pastry dough just like the kind you guy at Kroger (only 1000x better tasting) it it took you literally four minutes.
Now it just has to chill in the fridge til you need it!
Ok, roll the dough out into a disc about 1/4 inch thick. Then transfer it to a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.
Gently press the crust into the edge of the pan (without stretching it!)
Then use scissors or a knife to trim off the excess crust and create a dainty edge.
Now we’re going to bake the empty tart shell! Since the sides of this pan are straight and the crust is really buttery, we have to fill it with something or the melting butter will cause the sides of the tart to slump (I know this from experience.) The answer is to line the crust with foil and fill the foil with a layer of beans (or pie weights if your fancy enough to own any. I obviously am not.)
The crust bakes like this for 15 minutes, and then another 5-10 with the beans and foil removed, until it is a nice flaky golden delight!
Once it is completely cooled, you can spread in some delicious goat cheese spread. (I added basil, dill, & green onion to mine, but you can add any herbs you like!)
Then just slice up a few gorgeous tomatoes and layer them on top of the cheese. Sprinkle on more herbs if you want, arugula if you want, parmesan cheese if you want, get crazy!
Also be sure you add salt & pepper and drizzle on some balsamic vinegar and good olive oil. Perfection.
I think this tart is best served at room temperature, so I advise you to eat it soon after you make it. But if you need to make it ahead of time, store it in the fridge until a few hours before serving, then pull it out to allow time to knock off the chill.
This goes great with a glass of red wine! If you make it, you will totally feel like you’re from Napa Valley or someplace equally posh.
Here’s the recipe!
Herbed Goat Cheese & Tomato Tart
Prep time: 30 min. active prep; 1 hr. inactive prep
(Adapted from Williams Sonoma)
-1 single-crust pastry (recipe below)
-1/2 lb. goat cheese, at room temperature
-1/3 half & half
-2 tsp. minced fresh herbs, such as basil, green onion, dill, parsley, or tarragon
-3 or 4 heirloom tomatoes, sliced
-flaked sea salt and freshly ground pepper
-2 Tbsp. baby basil leaves (or roughly chopped regular basil)
-a small handfull of arugula leaves
-1 tsp. olive oil
-1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
-fresh grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Prepare the pie crust and chill as directed.
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400°F.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a circle about 13 inches in diameter. Transfer the dough to a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, and ease into the pan, trimming any excess dough. Line the inside of the shell with foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. (Note that after baking, you cannot cook and eat the beans, but they can be res-used as pie weights.) Bake until the crust starts to look dry, about 15 minutes. Remove the foil and weights and bake until the crust is golden brown, 5-1o minutes. Let cool completely.
In a small bowl, beat together the goat cheese and half & half until smooth. Stir in the minced herbs. Gently spread the herbed goat cheese over the bottom of the tart shell.
Lay the tomato slices on the tart in an even layer. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. In a small bowl, toss together the basil leaves, arugula, olive oil and vinegar, and season with salt and pepper. Top the tart with the arugula mixture and serve.
Single Crust Pastry
1 C. all-purpose flour + 1/4 C. whole wheat flour
1/3 tsp. salt
7 Tbsp. very cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
5 Tbsp. ice water, plus more if needed
In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the flour and salt. Sprinkle the butter over the top and pulse for a few seconds until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Evenly sprinkle the water over the flour mixture, then process just until the mixture starts to come together. Dump the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap, and press into a flat disk. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes or up to 1 day, or freeze for up to 1 month.
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