Heirloom Tomato Tart
Hierloom Tomato Tart with Green Background by Dena T Bray

“Children are emotionally taxing and emotionally rewarding. It is these ambiguities that makes raising them interesting. ” Leo Wiseman, age 70 

From: 30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans by Karl Pillemer, Ph. D.

We flipped the calendar to August and time sped up. While July was filled with heat and the sense of endless summer, August literally brought a chill to the air in New England, and  along with it, the reminder that all things have to change. There are only a few more weeks of real summer, trips to the lake and the pool will end soon. School will start in three weeks. The lush green in the trees and shrubs will transform our hillside into a palette of red and gold.

Rainbow Lake by Dena T Bray

It seems the change of weather is a perfect metaphor for parenting. Just when we relax into the feeling of a dry, sunny day, a sudden storm may erupt, the forecast suddenly changing without as much as a hint it will happen. With our son home from college, the days have been filled with light hearted romps and sudden stops when he needed to talk about serious decisions to be made―his major and course selections, preparations for his first apartment, issues of young adulthood―and more. One moment our daughter is a little girl munching on Cheerios for breakfast, the next  a young lady who wants to talk about nail polish and novels instead of stuffed animals and Barbie. I recently caught up with friends who are also focused on being with their kids this summer. While we each agree that having our children with us is precious, it is also challenging. We might start the day with a picnic at the beach in mind but end it with our hearts aching, emotionally tired from sitting with our children’s struggles, hearing them out as they talk about the hurt inflicted by friends, intentionally or not, or questioning house rules, parental authority. They say we are only as happy as our saddest child. I believe this to be true. Their happiness is our happiness.

Heirloom Tomato Tart by Dena T Bray

This Heirloom Tomato Tart, with its golden custard filling is an elegant way to dress up all field-ripened tomatoes coming home from the markets this week. The buttery pastry crust has a hint of herb wrapped within, adding flavor and texture to this end-of-summer dish. Enjoy it with a cool glass of wine, some patty squash or corn done on the grill, and a bowl of blueberries and cream for dessert.

I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen, gathering flavors, soon.


Heirloom Tomato Tart Wedge by Dena T Bray


Yield: 1 9-inch tart

For the tart shell:

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 8 pieces
  • ½ cup ice water

For the filling:

  • ½ cup heavy cream*
  • 3 large eggs
  • Pinch each cayenne pepper and salt
  • 4 small ripe, heirloom tomatoes, rinsed, seeded and cut into thin strips
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, cut into slivers
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, cut into slivers
  • 12 oil cured black olives, pitted and chopped


To make the tart dough:

  1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse the flour with the Herbes de Provence, salt and black pepper. Pulse in the butter until the ingredients are the consistency of cornmeal.
  2. Add the ice water and process the dough until it forms a ball.*
  3. Wrap the dough tightly with plastic wrap place in the refrigerator for at least one hour, up to 24 hours.

To shape and bake the tart dough:

  1. Liberally dust a clean work surface with flour. Using a rolling-pin, roll out the dough into a 10-inch circle. Lin a 9-inch tart pan with the dough, trimming off any excess as necessary. Chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour, up to 24 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  3. When ready to bake, prick the bottom of the tart shell with the tines of a fork and line with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Weight down the paper or foil with beans or rice. (If you are using a tart pan with a removable bottom, line the outside with aluminum foil to prevent leakage once the filling is added.)
  4. Bake the tart shell for 20 minutes or until it becomes golden around the edges. Remove the paper and beans. Bake a few minutes more until the bottom is also becoming golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Leave the oven on.
  5. Beat together the eggs and cream. Add the cayenne pepper and salt.
  6. Arrange the prepared tomatoes, garlic, basil and black olives on the bottom of the prepared tart shell. Pour in the beaten eggs and cream mixture.
  7. Place the tart on a sheet pan in the oven. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until the custard is set and the top is golden.
  8. Serve warm or at room temperature.
  9. Enjoy.


  1. If heirloom tomatoes are not available, use any ripe tomatoes in season.
  2. To make a slightly less rich filling, use whole milk instead of the cream.
  3. If you do not have a food processor, put the dough together by hand.
  4. Serve this tart as a light meal accompanied byMarket Morning Salad,Simple Roasted Asparagusor Light Carrot Soupwith Fresh Mint. It can also be served as an appetizer course followed byPan Grilled Chicken Breastswith Greens or English Peas with Fresh Herb Pesto and Orecchiette. Finish the meal with Strawberries Marinated in Honey and Wine.
  5. This recipe was adapted from Mediterranean Cooking by Lynne Gigliotti

Heirloom Tomatoes by Dena T Bray

One Year Ago: Carrot Cake Muffins , Red Velvet Cake for Summer and Peach Galette

Watch for my next post shortly after Labor Day. Enjoy the rest of your summer! 

Dena Testa Bray has been writing Gathering Flavors, a culinary blog, since 2011. She is a trained chef & ran a home based cooking school. Dena now designs websites, focusing on work with creative people. You can see her website work at www.denatestabray.net. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and family.