How to Make a Tomato Tarte Tarin

Caramelized Tomato Tarte Tatin

August 17, 2009 · 12 comments

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)

tomato tart tartine 4

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
Sea salt
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

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

AmyRuth August 17, 2009 at 9:52 pm

Wow, that is totally beautiful. I love love love that the produce and chees was all local and from the FM. Would the mixture be delicious on whole wheat pasta do you think? I agree some good bread sounds appropriate. Yum


Allison Arevalo August 19, 2009 at 3:47 pm

Hi AmyRuth,
Funny you mention it, because having it on whole wheat pasta was exactly what I was thinking when I was eating it. A little pecorino romano, and you’d be set.


Karine August 18, 2009 at 3:51 am

I love the colors of the tomatoes and the olives together… So artistic!


Maggie August 18, 2009 at 5:06 am

I was just saying to hubbie last night that my cherry tomato salsa was so sweet, it should be in a dessert. This would be perfect! Thanks for sharing.


Heather August 18, 2009 at 7:35 am

That is absolutely lovely! What a beautiful presentation. I wish my tomatoes would ripen!!




Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction August 18, 2009 at 8:30 am

Sorry to hear it didn’t turn out as you had hoped… Your pictures look beautiful, though… I love the bright colors of the tomatoes! I will save this recipe and give it a try!


pigpigscorner August 18, 2009 at 9:10 am

Sorry to hear about the crust, that’s always a problem when cooking with tomatoes, they give out so much liquid! But it looks really pretty.


JulieK August 18, 2009 at 10:20 am

Gorgeous! I love it!


Barbara August 18, 2009 at 11:07 am

Hi Allison,
It truly looks beautiful! (But then, all of your food photos are amazing.)
The NYT had another recipe (last week?) for a similar dish. I think it had a layer of shredded gruyere on top of the crust. The cheese was supposed to keep the tomato juices from seeping into the crust. It might be worth a try…
Good luck on your cafe plans, and keep on cookin’!


Allison Arevalo August 19, 2009 at 3:49 pm

Hi Barbara,
I must have missed that NY times recipe! I have to look it up, I’m sure the cheese worked wonders in a dish like this. Thanks for letting me know.


Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen August 20, 2009 at 11:22 am

I am sorry the tart didn’t quite work out, but I love how you saved it at the end, and I think the goat cheese was an awesome addition!


The Purple Foodie August 22, 2009 at 8:24 am

I love how vibrant your tart tartin looks!


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