>Tomato Tarte Tatin: Dessert or Appetizer?


Tomato Tarte Tatin Definitely Belongs on the Dessert Table

I knew I’d be digging my way out of mountains of boxes for a little while during our move to Chicago so I saved up a few of my cooking adventures from the last few weeks to share with you amidst the chaos. Blogging about food I’ve prepared is like therapy; it reminds me that I’ll be cooking again soon, and gives me an incentive to get those boxes unpacked and put away.

Right before we left Columbus, my CSA began harvesting their tomatoes and I came home with some candy-hued heirloom varieties. I decided to make a recipe my father had recommended to me 12 months earlier: tomato tarte tatin. When he first told me about the dish, I was skeptical. I wasn’t sure if it would be savory or sweet, dessert or appetizer, so I simply smiled and changed the subject whenever my dad asked me if I’d tried to make it. I’m still as stubborn as I was when I was three.

But there was something about these pretty tomatoes that inspired adventure. Ever the contrarian however, I didn’t use my dad’s recipe. I opted for a shortcut, and used frozen puff pastry dough instead of making my own pie crust. I wanted to save some time and use up the contents of my freezer before the move.

I began by blanching the tomatoes to remove the skins and seeds. I made a little cross incision on each tomato and plunged them in boiling water for a minute. Once I fished them out of the boiling water, I transferred them to an ice bath. The skin wrinkled and came off easily.

Tarte Tatin is an upside down pie with a heavily caramelized coating. To achieve that effect, you layer a generous amount of butter on an oven-proof skillet or pan. Then sprinkle on the sugar and finally layer on the fruit. The caramel is created on the range by slowly heating the pan until the butter and sugar are a deep amber. You then add the crust and finish the pie in the oven.

I shouldn’t have worried about the tomato tarte tatin tasting strange. It was absolutely delicious. The tomatoes had a deep caramel flavor with just a hint of tomato tang. The texture was also lovely, thanks to the contrast of the light and crispy puff pastry crust and the chewy tomatoes. I’ll definitely be repeating this dish before the summer is over now that I know it will be sure to wow the crowds.

Shortcut Tomato Tarte Tatin
6 to 8 large heirloom tomatoes
3 tablespoons of salted butter
3/4 cups of brown sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1 sheet of frozen puff pastry dough
optional: vanilla ice cream or creme fraiche to serve

  1. In a large pot, set water to boil. Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Score each tomato on one end with a cross.
  4. Plunge the tomatoes in boiling water for one minute. Then immediately transfer them to the ice bath.
  5. Peel each tomato. Then make an incision to open up the tomatoes and scoop out the seeds. Using a paring knife, cut the seedless tomatoes into 2-inch wide sections.
  6. Spread the butter evenly on the bottom of an oven-proof skillet. This will take a little elbow grease to keep rubbing the butter in concentric circles until you have a thick pommade coating the pan. 
  7. Sprinkle the sugar on top.
  8. Layer the tomatoes over the butter and sugar, paying some attention to color. Don’t worry about overlapping, having more tomatoes is better than not enough.
  9. Place skillet over medium heat. Cook, occasionally shifting the tomatoes gently to prevent burning. When the butter and sugar have turned into a bubbling, light amber caramel, take the pan off the heat.
  10. Immediately add the vanilla extract by drizzling it on top of the tomatoes.
  11. Lay your puff pastry sheet down. Cut off the corners to make it a very rough circle. Don’t worry too much about geometry or presentation. I guarantee your pie will be gorgeous.
  12. Lay the puff pastry over the caramelized tomatoes, tucking in the dough. Make 3 or 4 slits in the dough. 
  13. Place pie in oven and cook for 20 to 25 minutes until crust is golden brown. Watch closely to make sure the caramel doesn’t burn, turning the tomatoes into cement. 
  14. As soon as the pie is done, invert it onto a serving dish. Use silicone mitts to prevent yourself from burning but don’t wait or you will be scooping your pie out with a jack hammer.
  15. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or creme fraiche.

3 Responses to >Tomato Tarte Tatin: Dessert or Appetizer?

  1. >This sounds delicious and it's only about 830am by me. I just picked up some heirloom tomatoes last night at Whole Foods an this is what I'm going to make with them.

    I'm not good at making pie crust, so thank you for the short cut tip!

    I wish you much success in your unpacking!

    • Sounds delicious Jess! The tomato gets so sweet and caramelized that it will pair really well with the blue cheese. Yum!

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