This NY Times recipe has been tucked away in my book of clippings for about a year. I loved the idea – puff pastry, olives, a mosaic of cherry tomatoes, caramelized onions – an artful array of sweet and salty joyfully playing off each other. I wanted it to be incredible, a culinary feat deserving of a Sunday night meal. But it wasn’t. Here’s why…
My first mistake was buying a pre-made puff pastry. I had every intention of rolling, kneading and folding the pastry myself, but I lost to the clock. The resulting all-butter, $11 Whole Foods puff pastry cooked up gummy and tough. My second mistake was the caramel. With no fault of Whole foods, it was too wet and seeped down into the already chewy crust, turning it into a soggy mess. Maybe I didn’t cook it long enough.
It wasn’t all bad. In fact, the flavors worked quite well together. The salty olives cut the sugary sweetness, and the organic tomatoes brightened up the dense onions. The recipe called for three red onions, but after caramelizing them I only used about two. I also used champagne vinegar in place of sherry for no good reason other than it’s what I had.
We ended up scraping the goodness away from the crust and spreading it on homemade bread. A slathering of tangy goat cheese sealed the deal.
Have you tried this recipe? Test it out and let me know what you think…
Caramelized Tomato Tarte Tatin
(adopted from Melissa Clark’s NY Times recipe)
1 14-ounce package all-butter puff pastry
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 red onions, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 cup plus a pinch of sugar
1/2 teaspoon champagne vinegar
1/4 cup chopped pitted Saracena olives
1 1/2 pints organic, cherry/grape tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 425F. Unfold puff pastry sheet and cut into a 10-inch round; chill, covered, until ready to use.
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and a pinch of sugar and cook, stirring, until onions are golden and caramelized, 15 to 20 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons water and let cook off, scraping brown bits from bottom of pan. Transfer onions to a bowl.
In an ovenproof 9-inch skillet, combine 1/4 cup sugar and 3 tablespoons water. Cook over medium heat, swirling pan gently (do not stir) until sugar melts and turns amber, 5 to 10 minutes. Add vinegar and swirl gently.
Sprinkle olives over caramel. Scatter tomatoes over olives, then sprinkle on the onions. Season with thyme leaves, salt and pepper. Top with puff pastry round, tucking edges into pan. Cut several long vents in top of pastry.
Bake tart until crust is puffed and golden, about 30 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes. Run a knife around pastry to loosen it from the pan, and flip tart out onto a serving platter.
Where I Shopped:
Organic grape tomatoes: Lucero Farms, Temescal Farmers’ Market
Red onions: Wilson Farms, Old Oakland Farmers’ Market
Unsalted butter: Spring Hill Cheese Company, Temescal Farmers’ Market
Saracena olives: The Pasta Shop, Market Hall in Oakland
Champagne vinegar: Monterey Market, Berkeley