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Tomato Tartine: Not A Recipe

Portland, Oregon: Another week of cleaning and purging. Another week of wearing sweaters. Last week was so boring. Work. Work. Work. The weather finally turned this weekend and we went downtown to celebrate my sister’s birthday at a fancy Italian restaurant, Mucca Osteria. Not only is the food and service divine – the osteria is right on the light rail, making it super-convenient for us to buzz into Stumptown – and buzz home – if we are buzzed (hello, cocktails!) on the return.

This weekend was the weekend set-aside for sorting through and cataloging my cookbooks. I have a lot of cookbooks. Considering this woman has only 60 hangers of clothing, 16 pair or shoes, and six handbags, it is totally unbelievable that I owned 300 cookbooks. After this weekend, I no longer do, and this feat will be documented in an upcoming blog post that will no doubt bore you all to tears. Feel sorry for me, or feel empathy for a 45-year book collection reduced by a third, or just feel I am stoopid as every recipe in the whole wide world is now available on the whole world wide web. No? Okay, just feel sorry for my aching back, then? This story will be revealed soon on this website, along with photos and along with a surprise announcement!


But tonight I reveal a not-a-pizza recipe. This is what you make when you want a pretty and pretty-fast pizza, without having to make pizza dough, after cataloging cookbooks for two days. Once again, puff pastry is our friend. And by puff pastry, I mean the frozen sheets by Pepperidge Farms. I’ve learned to always keep a box of this stuff on-hand. It is good for sweets and savories. It’s reliable. It’s cheap. The ingredients contain a few things I generally do not endorse, but I can get lazy, and ignore high fructose corn syrup occasionally if no one is looking. The pastry has no trans-fats and no cholesterol.

Until I add cheese, of course.

Puff pastry is so easy to work with. Just thaw it for an hour or so at room temperature (or overnight in the fridge). When you bring the pastry from the freezer to thaw, slice three or four medium-sized tomatoes and lay the slices individually on a few layers of paper towels, so the moisture/juices will be mostly removed from the tomatoes. Use the best, ripest, tomatoes you can find. This recipe is perfect for all the gorgeous heirloom tomatoes appearing now (July-August) in the markets. Cover the slices with another layer or two of paper towels and let them rest while the dough thaws.

Carefully unfold the pastry sheet (Pepperidge Farms pastry is folded in thirds), roll it out on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper, placed on a baking sheet, or just stretch it with your hands/fingers, to approximately 10×15-inches. (If the dough is too soft, simply pop it back in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes – this will make it easier to work with.) Any area you score with the tines of a fork will not puff-up, so poke holes in the center of the pastry with a fork, leaving a half-inch-or-so border around the edges (see photo above). The un-poked border will puff-up during the baking process, leaving a nice wall around your center pizza filling. Genius!

For our pizza tonight, I spread about 1 cup of “Italian Blend” grated (already grated in a bag, y’all) cheese over the poked center area, then I “decoratively” layered the drained tomatoes slices over the cheese:

Next I sprinkled just a bit of finely grated Parmesan cheese over the entire thing:

The tartine was baked in a 375 degree oven for 33 minutes. After it left the oven, I let it rest for a few minutes, then cut the tartine with a pizza wheel, transferred the entire pie to a serving board, and sprinkled basil chiffonade over it all.

It was super delicious, super pretty, and we have enough leftover for lunch tomorrow. I served the tartine with a tossed salad.

The tartine would make a great serve-your-own-self appetizer at a back yard gathering.

I hope you all had a great weekend!

Until my next – COOKBOOK – update, I remain, your cataloged correspondent.

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