Monday, August 26, 2013

Tomato Queso Tart (Gluten-Free, Too!)

Summer's bounty of tomatoes is here! (Did I just hear a cheer go up from the crowd?) 

This is the season of tomato sandwiches graced with only a simple sprinkle of salt and pepper and a smear of mayo, of the best BLT's of the whole doggone year, of my favorite fresh summer tomato sauce made in big batches and frozen for the winter and of...of...well, whatever your little heart (and imagination) desires.

Those big, bright red and juicy Maryland tomatoes I brought back from vacation still had a few left in the peck basket and our neighbor, Ralph, had just given us a few beauties from his garden. 

Not enough tomatoes for more sauce, but too many to use in sandwiches, I decided on a tomato tart for dinner. Of course a normal tart crust would be a flaky, buttery pie crust, but there's no such thing as an acceptably flaky gluten-free pie crust (if you know of one, SEND IT MY WAY, please!).

Instead, I settled on a crushed tortilla chip crust. That led to the idea of a few south-of-the-border influences which, naturally, led to thoughts of roasted (leftover) corn, jalapenos and a little cheese. Thus the Tomato Queso Tart was born.

Fresh and bright with tomato, sweet with corn and just a bit of cheesy custard to hold everything together, cradled in a crunchy, salty crust and lightly sprinkled with bright, green cilantro, the tart hit all my favorite notes. 

Okay...confession time. I bought the yellow cherry tomatoes to make an especially pretty presentation of red and yellow tomatoes with bright green cilantro. It was worth it! Not only was it beautiful, it was quite the end of summer treat!

 Tomato Queso Tart

  • 1 corn chip tart crust, baked - see recipe below

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 2 large garlic cloves, smashed
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 large egg, beaten

  • 1 cup cheese, Mexican blend - I used 365 (Whole Foods) blend with pepper jack, colby and muenster) or your own favorite Mexican blend - plus about 1/2 a cup or so to top tomatoes with at the end

  • 2 ears of corn, leftover, cut from cob - roasted or steamed or boiled - they all work well!
  • 2 tablespoons jalapeno pepper, minced finely

  • 2 large, red tomatoes, sliced very thinly
  • 18-20 yellow cherry tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise

CRUST: Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. In a food processor, process tortilla chips until fine - you'll need 2 cups. Melt 3 tablespoons butter and add to processor with chips - process until well combined. Set aside. 

Butter the bottom and sides of a tart pan with a removable bottom - about 1 - 1 1/2 tablespoons of softened butter. Dump the buttered tortilla chip crumbs into the tart pan and press them evenly across the bottom and up the sides. Tamp them down well. Bake 20 minutes. Remove and cool slightly.

CUSTARD: In a heavy bottomed saucepan, add the cream and milk. Smash the garlic and add along with salt and pepper. Warm the mixture. 

Beat the egg in a small bowl. When the cream mixture is warm, add a little at a time to the egg while beating the entire time...about 3-4 tablespoons of the warm mixture should do it. 

Gradually add the egg/cream mixture back into the saucepan, whisking until all the egg mixture is incorporated. Gently stir until the egg/cream mixture begins to thicken. 

Remove from heat, remove the garlic with a fork or slotted spoon. Set aside.

ASSEMBLY: Once the crust is ready, sprinkle the corn and jalapeno across the bottom of the crust, pour the egg cream mixture evenly over the top. Sprinkle one cup of cheese evenly over the top. 

Lay the tomato slices evenly over the top and add the yellow cherry tomato halves decoratively around the edge and in the center of the tart. Sprinkle the tomatoes with a little more cheese.

Bake the tart for 30 minutes until the custard sets. Remove from oven carefully. Let sit for 10 minutes to set before removing the edge of the tart pan. 

Sprinkle the top with chopped cilantro and cut into wedges.

So good!

NOTE: Makes a great vegetarian main dish, appetizer (cut into thin slices) or brunch dish!

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