If this isn’t summer on a platter, I honestly don’t know what is.
If you like to cook things in season (and you certainty should be) then now is the time of the year to cook with tomatoes. You’ll see them on sale as they’re plentiful, and taste the absolute best. Especially if grown locally and using some of the coveted heirloom variety. Trust me when I tell you- some of the ugliest heirloom tomatoes you’ll ever see…will be some of the best you’ll ever eat. And they come in a wide variety of colors, which make them ideal for presentation for things like this tart. Although you can use any kind of tomato you like, or you can roast them first if you don’t care for the texture of raw tomatoes. Either way, there’s no better time to make this tart than RIGHT NOW.
I was inspired by this months cover of Food & Wine magazine, where they used phyllo dough to create this gorgeous tart that I couldn’t get it out of my head. But looking at the recipe I decided I had to up the ante and create more layers of flavor to make this dish really sing.
Phyllo dough, whose name originates from the Greek word meaning “leaf“, are essentially thinner-than-paper sheets of unleavened dough. Packages come all nestled on top of each other and then rolled up and frozen. When baked they create delicious dishes with flaky texture and buttery flavor.
I know phyllo dough is one of those things that most home cooks are afraid of. But you really shouldn’t be, it’s highly versatile and the ONLY thing you need to worry about is timing. Just let the phyllo dough defrost overnight in the fridge and then at room temp outside of the box for two hours before using it. People who have issues with phyllo tend to either rush the defrosting process or let it get too warm at room temperature and the thin, flaky sheets start to mold together. If you work somewhat quickly and are in an air-conditioned kitchen, you’ll be just fine.
The fun aspect of my version is the texture in between the layers of dough. I place layers of breadcrumbs, Italian seasonings, and freshly grated Parmesan in between each 2 sheets of phyllo. When baked, the cheese melts into the dough and gives you a little more structure, since phyllo can be quite flaky and weak on it’s own.
And this cream cheese/ricotta mixture is SO. FREAKING. GOOD. It is well worth the time it takes to roast the garlic properly and makes a huge difference in the flavor. Because as we all know tomatoes and garlic are soulmates, forever and ever amen.
Roasted Garlic and Herbed Tomato Tart
1 whole garlic bulb
Sprinkle of salt, pepper and olive oil
10 sheets of phyllo dough, defrosted
6 tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
¼ C Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
½ C breadcrumbs
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 ½ lbs heirloom tomatoes, sliced
4 oz. whipped cream cheese
1 tbsp kosher salt
2 tsp pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut about 1/2 inch off the top of the head of garlic, and place on a sheet of aluminum foil. Drizzle olive oil, a little salt, pepper on top, and wrap the aluminum foil around the bulb so it’s completely enclosed. Set on a small baking sheet and roast the garlic in the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the garlic cloves inside are completely soft. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Turn down oven to 375 degrees.
While garlic is roasting, place a piece of Silicone mat or parchment paper on a large rimmed baking sheet. Spread 1 tbsp of olive oil over the whole area evenly cover.
Put 4 pieces of phyllo dough down and then spread a coating of olive oil on top, then a layer of breadcrumbs, Italian seasoning, and grated cheese (just a thin layer of cheese)
Place two layers of phyllo dough down on top and continue alternating with the olive oil/breadcrumbs/Italian seasoning/cheese until you’ve used up all the phyllo dough.
Bake for 25 minutes until dough is lightly browned and starting to curl up on the edges. Let cool completely.
In a large bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, whipped cream cheese, the squeezed out paste from the roasted garlic, salt and pepper until smooth and spread over the top of the tart.
Place tomato slices on top, along with the leaves of basil and serve immediately!