A tomato tart done right is a culinary feat for the eye and the palate, and the best time to make one is during the summer when tomatoes are at their peak.

This tart boasts a homemade tart shell that is golden and flaky, but you can save some time with a premade shell—just follow the recipe’s directions for blind baking the tart shell before filling it.  The partially baked tart shell is topped with a layer of caramelized onions, which are sprinkled with generous handfuls of a shredded mellow melting cheese. The recipe calls for fontina cheese, but feel free to substitute other melting cheeses, such as gruyere or mozzarella. Thinly sliced heirloom tomatoes are arranged on top of the onion/cheese base in overlapping concentric circles alternating in size and color.

The commingling of flavors and textures in this tomato tart is simply divine.  Serve this savory summer time showstopper as an appetizer or a light lunch paired with a crisp salad drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette.  Happy Summer!


Tart Shell

  • ¾ stick Crisco
  • 2 cups flour, preferably all-purpose
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • pinch red pepper
  • 4 to 8 tablespoons ice water

Tomato and Onion Filling

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large Vidalia onion, about 2 cups, sliced thinly
  • 4 heirloom tomatoes in different shapes and colors, sliced thinly
  • 2 cups grated fontina cheese,
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • Fresh basil

Tart Shell Directions

Before you begin, make sure to have on hand a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.  You can substitute a regular glass pie plate (9 or 10 inches), but you won’t have the pretty fluted effect on the crust.

Cut the Crisco into small pieces and place in the freezer for at least 15 minutes.  Place the flour into a large mixing bowl.  Add the salt, onion powder, garlic powder, and red pepper to the flour in the bowl and whisk together well.  Place the cut up cold Crisco into the flour mixture and work it into the flour until you have coarse crumbs.  I use a pastry blender to cut the Crisco into the flour. Add two tablespoons of the water and toss to combine.  Add more water, two tablespoons at a time and toss until the mixture barely holds together when you squeeze a handful.  Divide the dough: one piece should be larger than the other about ¾ to ¼.  Shape each piece into a disc, then chill for at least 30 minutes.  After the dough has chilled, take out the larger disc (use the smaller one another time).  Roll out the dough to a circle of approximately 12 inches. Place the rolled out dough into the tart pan. With your fingers ease the dough along the bottom of the tart pan, then gently press to the fluted sides of the pan.  Use your rolling pin to roll over the top of the pan, so the dough is flush with the top of the pan.  Cover the dough with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for at least half an hour.  You can make the dough to this point and freeze for several weeks before using.

When you are ready to make the tart, you will need to prebake the tart shell before filling it. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, and remove the prepared tart shell from the freezer. Cover the tart shell with aluminum foil, then place pie weights, dried beans, or rice on top of the foil to keep the shell from puffing up.  Place the tart shell in the oven for 15 minutes, then remove the aluminum foil and pie weights, and bake uncovered for 5 to 15 minutes more until lightly golden.  Remove from the oven.

Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees.

Tomato and Onion Filling Directions

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet.  Place the sliced onions into the skillet and cook over low heat for about 30 minutes until the onions are lightly golden and caramelized and all the liquid has evaporated.  Cool for a few minutes.

To fill the tart shell, place the caramelized onions on the bottom of the shell and spread evenly.  Sprinkle the fontina cheese over the onions, then arrange the sliced heirloom tomatoes in an overlapping pattern with alternating colors.  Sprinkle the pepper, basil, and thyme on top of the tart, then place in the oven, for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cheese has melted. Serve warm or at room temperature.  Garnish servings with a sprig of fresh basil.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

August 2018