We visit the farmer’s market nearly every Saturday. This past weekend, what stood out the most were brightly colored heirloom tomatoes. Jade always gives me a hard time because I’m Italian, but not really a tomato person. More accurately, I don’t like raw tomatoes that much—except for cherry tomatoes.
Many of the farmers’ tables were overflowing with large heirlooms. One lone lettuce stand had but four cherry heirloom tomato baskets, too pretty and vibrant not to select over the mountains of large heirloom tomatoes near by. With tomatoes in hand, I started brainstorming about what I could make.
I recently used puff pastries to make the easiest peach turnovers, so I wondered if puff pastry could be used to make a quick tart-like appetizer. I found lots of interesting tomato tart recipes with puff pastry, but combined several different recipes to come up with this caprese tart recipe.
There’s this avocado oil vendor at the farmer’s market that constantly draws me in with his oil sample. He doctors it up with sea salt and balsamic, and coaxes me to dip his fresh bread samples in the oil mixture. He gets me nearly every time — his concoction is so delicious. But at over $20 a bottle, we always reluctantly move on.
Recently, my husband spotted a bottle of avocado oil at Costco for a steal, so he bought it for me, to somehow make up for always passing up the Farmer’s market vendor. But here’s the catch—that bottle of avocado oil has been sitting on my kitchen counter, unopened, for well over a month now. I wasn’t sure what to do with it. I don’t regularly dip bread into oil, due to the caloric overdose, so what else do you do with avocado oil? It’s supposed to be great for sautéing meat, and also great in dressings. I figured pesto is like a dressing, and avocado oil’s mild flavor would work well with basil, garlic and Parmesan. I had walnuts on hand, so I used those instead of the traditional pine nuts.
Pesto is super simple to make if you have a food processor. Just clean your basil and add basil, walnuts, garlic and Parmesan in the food processor. Once its finely ground up, slowly add the oil until you reach the desired consistency. I personally like my pesto a little thicker, so I tend to add less oil, but you can add more if you want a runnier pesto.
This caprese tart recipe isn’t nearly as complicated as how I came up with the idea. It’s actually super easy! Just thaw out your puff pastry, cut it into four squares, cut a ½ inch boarder for your outer crust, prick holes in the center of the pastry to keep it from puffing up too much, top with pesto, tomatoes and mozzarella, bake for 20-25 minutes, and eat up!
This recipe is fool proof because you can add as much or as little of the toppings as you want and could easily swap for a different type of cheese or spread if you don’t like mozzarella or pesto. If you can’t find heirloom cherry tomatoes, you could use regular heirlooms or even plain cherry tomatoes.
For the Tarts
Adapted from: Will Cook for Friends
1 box (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, thawed according to package directions
1 – 2 pints cherry heirloom tomatoes, halved
12 oz fresh mini (ciliegine) mozzarella balls (regular size would work too)
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 egg + 1 teaspoon water, for egg wash
For the Basil Avocado Oil and Walnut Pesto
Adapted from: 101 Cookbooks
1 large bunch of basil
¼ cup avocado oil
¼ cup walnuts
¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan
3 garlic cloves
salt and pepper to taste
For the tart: Place one sheet of thawed puff pastry on a lightly floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, gently press the dough to flatten and seal any fold marks (no need to make the sheet any larger; this is only to even out the dough sheet.)
With a thin-bladed knife, slice the dough into fourths and transfer them to parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Using the same knife, gently score the dough 1/2-inch in from the sides to make a border; do not cut the dough all the way through. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry. Using a fork, polk holes in the middle square to help keep the middle section from puffing up too much.
Top each of the pastry squares with pesto, mozzarella and heirloom tomatoes, as desired. Make sure to stay inside of the scored square.
Using a pastry brush, brush each border with egg wash and season the entire tart with a little sea salt and fresh ground pepper.
Bake in the lower third of your oven for 22-25 minutes, until the edges of the pastry are a deep golden brown and the mozzarella is starting to brown. Serve immediately or at room temperature.
For the pesto: Remove basil leaves from the stems. Rinse and dry basil leaves. In a food processor, combine basil leaves, walnuts, garlic cloves, and Parmesan and blend until finely chopped. Slowly add the avocado oil until you reach the desired texture.
These caprese tarts are really yummy. They remind me of mini pesto pizzas! What’s your favorite way to use heirloom tomatoes?