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Tomato Memory Lane Tart

For me, there isn't anything more quintessential to summer than tomatoes. Sure, you can buy them year-round now, somehow I doubt the ripened on the vine claim that so many tomatoes have. Most likely, I tie tomatoes to summer because of my Grandfather; he was a fantastic gardener. To this day, I dream of re-creating his garden; it was a magical place to visit as a child. Not only did he grow a variety of vegetables, but he also raised the most beautiful dahlias, among other flowers. Besides all the planted crops, he also had a night crawler shed for lack of a better term, he was an avid fisherman. I know what does all that have to do with tomatoes? My Grandfathers tomatoes were legendary, enormous, sweet, and tasted like sunshine. No store-bought tomato's flavor could ever compete with one still warm from the sun when you slice it.

Tomatoes have a fickle sort of love-hate relationship path with people. There are always those that won't eat a slice of tomato on its own but will pile ketchup on french fries. It is still a tomato, with the exception that it is pre-chewed for you. As you can tell, I love tomatoes of all varieties, shapes, and colors, which is what this tale is really about.

This Tomato Tart can be used with full-sized tomatoes or cherry tomatoes; you can make it with heirloom, yellow, red, or orange tomatoes. I do not recommend green tomatoes; they are amazing, but they just aren't a good fit for this recipe. I used baby heirloom for this go-round because, look at those pictures, the cobblestone effect is beautiful. You always eat with your eyes first! The vital thing to know about tomatoes is that they have a lot of water in them, so draining them is essential. When prepping small tomatoes, scooped out the inside before draining.

Now I feel like recipes are more suggestions than rigid, even the first time I make things, but you do what you want. It would be best for the cheese selection to mix moist and dry cheeses; I used Asiago, Mozzarella, Provolone, and Parmesan. Because that was the available combo. If you have a favorite cheese combo, use that, whatever totals a cup.

I am a baker who makes everything from scratch; that said, you have other crust options. Apparently, at the grocery in the dairy section, you can purchase pre-made crusts. My Mom, a great cook but not a baker, bought them, so it's generally accepted practice; she just hated to tell me. Speaking of store-bought, unless you have a forest of basil at your door, buying already made pesto is another accepted practice. If you do not have a tart pan, you can use a deep-dish pie plate or a 9-inch casserole with low sides.

Enjoy, this is excellent right from the oven or cold from the fridge because you are too busy creating to re-heat it.

Tomato Tart

1 Crust for 9-inch pie or tart pan

Pie weights

1 Container 10 oz or more Cherry or Baby tomatoes ( you can sub 1 pound of medium tomatoes)

1/2 cup pesto

1 cup shredded cheese combo ( Mozzarella, Asiago, Parmesan, or Provolone are great options)

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried basil

4 eggs

1/3 cup heavy cream

1/2 tsp kosher salt - extra for seasoning.

1/2 tsp ground pepper

Do this first - Scoop the inside of the tomatoes out, using a melon ball or small spoon, sprinkle sparingly with salt, place in a colander to drain. If you are using whole tomatoes, slice them thinly, sprinkle sparingly with salt, and drain in a colander.

Preheat oven to 375

Roll the crust out to at least a 10-inch circle; you want the crust to reach over the edges. This goes for purchased pie crust as well. Line the tart pan with crust, allowing the excess to hang over the edge. With a fork, prick the bottom and sides of the crust. Line the crust with foil, waxed paper, or parchment, then fill with pie weights. Bake for 15 minutes, until the edges become slightly golden. Remove from oven, carefully remove pie weights. Using a knife, cut off the excess dough from the edges if necessary. Trimming the crust after baking leaves a lovely edge.

Spread the pesto evenly on the bottom of the crust. Sprinkle the cheese over the top of the cheese, then the dried herbs on to the cheese. Now for the tomatoes, if you are using small tomatoes, arrange them over the top in a cobblestone pattern, round side up. If you are using sliced tomato, circularly place them. In a 2 cup measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, cream, salt, and pepper. I like to use a measuring cup because you can control the pour. Carefully pour the egg mixture around the tomatoes, being sure it is spread evenly throughout.

Bake for 25 minutes; it should still have a slight wobble when you remove it from the oven. It will continue to set. If you used a tart pan, allow to cool for a few a bit, then use a jar or can to push the base upward for serving. You should also be able to slide the tart off the tart pan bottom for serving, carefully use a spatula to encourage it.

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