Minis are so much fun. There is something about a smaller version of foods that we like that is somehow more charming than the larger version.
Tomato tarts are one of the nicest ways to capture the essence of warm tomatoes now that harvest season for tomatoes is in full swing. Smaller tomato tarts, like the ones I made tonight, have the added delight of being made with just one type of tomato in each tartlet and of being small enough to eat in a few bites, held in the hand, so that you can smell that great tomato fragrance each time you bite into the tart.
The inspiration came from an article in the Press Democrat, our local paper. Since they are part of the New York Times stable, they often carry articles from that paper. This is one. Melissa Clark wrote about 'A week's worth of sweet, summer tomatoes', published in the P.D. on Sept. 5.
Her tartlet recipe used mascarpone cheese for the filling. I used ricotta cheese mixed with an egg, and then I folded in chopped basil and freshly ground pepper. I pinched my little tartlets up around the tomato slices, but they decided to flatten out during baking. Even so, they were delicious. The pastry was flaky and buttery, which combined well with the sweetness of the hot tomatoes and the nutty Parmesan cheese, lively basil and mellow ricotta. We each had three and I sure wish I had made more.
Multicolored Tomato Tartlets
2-3 small firm but ripe heirloom tmatoes, preferably in different colors
1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted but cold
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 small to medium egg
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
Freshly ground black pepper - about 1/4 teaspoon
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the puff pastry sheet on the parchment paper and cut out circles using a small sharp knife. (I used a wide mouth canning jar lid) Set aside the rest of the puff pastry that isn't circles, or cut rectangles from the scraps if any are large enough. Set each puff pastry circle or rectangle evenly apart on the baking sheet.In a bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, egg, basil, and pepper. Set aside.
Slice stem and bottom ends from the tomatoes. Save for another use or discard.
Slice remaing tomato crosswise into rounds 1/2 inch thick. You will need 6 or more nice rounds. (You may have to trim the slices to fit the rectangles if you are using them, or slice cherry or small pear tomatoes in half for the rectangles.) The tomato slices should be about 1 inch smaller in diameter than the pastry rounds.Place about a tablespoon of the ricotta cheese mixture in the center of each pastry piece, spread out to about 1/2 inch from the edge. Place a tomato slice on top.
Pinch edges of pastry up around the tomato slice edges. Scatter parmesan over the pastries.
Bake until the pastry if puffed and golden, about 10-12 minutes. Serve warm.