Summer officially ended for me yesterday when my favorite ice cream stand closed. For all the pleasure I take in foods based on fresh, seasonal ingredients—few things give me more enjoyment than summer ice cream. Not just any ice cream. It has to be vanilla soft serve, in a cup, with rainbow sprinkles. Nothing else will do. Part of the pleasure is enjoying it with my husband and kids. Another part of the pleasure is that it brings out the kid in me. When I was a little girl, every summer Saturday night my father and I would go to the bottega nearby so he could pick up the Sunday papers (The New York Times and Newsday) while I chose the latest editions of my favorite Archie comic books. This was followed by a bowl of delicious ice cream at the Carvel stand next door. We’d sit on the stoop out front with other neighbors laughing and enjoying each spoonful. Those days are long gone as my father died more than forty years ago, but our sweet ritual lives on in me. Every bowl of ice cream I share with my kids, I continue to share with him.
As sad as I am to have summer come to an end, I think the gods had a beautiful plan in following my favorite season with a rich and bountiful fall harvest. The organic vegetables coming home from the farm-stand now are absolutely as beautiful as they are delicious. Golden red and orange heirloom tomatoes, rainbow chard, fresh garlic and herbs―every bowl of these delicious ingredients is a still-life painting in the making. This Tomato and Chard Tart is a savory way to bring out their best. It starts with a tender yeast crust that is filled with Italian herbs. The crust is then filled with a creamy goat cheese and topped with tomatoes and chard that have already been cooked down to intensify their flavors. This tart is delicious on its own. Or, consider serving it with a green salad lightly dressed with oil and vinegar, a plate of smoked meats, and a bottle of chilled wine. Enjoy.
I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen, gathering flavors, soon.
Tomato & Chard tart
Yield: One ten-inch tart, about 8 servings
For the yeasted dough:
2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
½ teaspoon sugar
⅔ teaspoon salt
½ cup water
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup bread flour
¾ cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons dried Italian herb blend (oregano, thyme, marjoram, & sage)
For the tart filling:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 small onions or shallots, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced finely
1 ½ pounds heirloom or other fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded, & chopped
2 cups Swiss chard, rinsed, stems removed, & cut into thin strips
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage, plus a handful more for serving
¼ cup cornmeal or polenta
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup herbed cream cheese or goat cheese
To make the yeasted dough, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the water and let stand until it’s bubbly, about ten minutes. Whisk the oil, egg, and salt together with the proofed yeast, then stir in the flours. When the dough is too stiff to work with a spoon, turn it onto a lightly floured counter and knead until smooth and elastic, about four minutes. Set though dough in an oiled bowl and turn it over to coat, cover with a towel, and let rise until double in bulk, about forty-five minutes. Set aside until ready to use.
To make the filling, warm the oil over medium heat in a wide skillet. Cook the onions until translucent, about ten minutes. Add the garlic, tomatoes, chard, and fresh sage. Toss to combine and cook until all vegetables are tender, about ten minutes more. Add the salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Let the vegetables cool for a few minutes, then pour into a colander to drain off any excess liquid. Stir in the cornmeal. Allow to cool completely.
To assemble and bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Roll the dough into a thin circle, and line a ten-inch *tart shell with it. Add the cream cheese or goat cheese and spread evenly. Add the cooled vegetables. Spread evenly. Bake for thirty five minutes, or until the dough is golden and the filling is bubbly.
To serve, allow the tart to cool slightly then remove it from its pan. Sprinkle fresh sage leaves on top. Enjoy.
This recipe is closely adapted from In My Kitchen by Deborah Madison.
*If using a tart pan with a removable bottom, cover the bottom in foil before baking. This will keep any excess juices from spilling into the oven.
For a full meal, serve with a green salad, a platter or smoked meats or cheeses, and a bottle of chilled wine.