Roasted Eggplant and Heirloom Tomato Tart with Fresh Basil Pesto

Posted by on Aug 7, 2011 in entrées, Fusion, Italian, Recipes | No Comments

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Since tomatoes are in season and I have been waiting all year for these amazing heirloom varieties, I’m posting another tomato recipe. I went to the Urbana Farmers Market this morning and found some gorgeous heirlooms along with a few varieties of eggplant. I can’t even tell you how much I love farmers markets. I almost don’t want to cook anything because it’s all so beautiful and tastes insanely good raw.

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I have been craving a savory tart recently and although this one has a lot of steps (if making from scratch) its fairly simple and well worth it. You can definitely make the dough and pesto a day or two ahead to shave off a bit of time. In retrospect, I may try roasting the eggplant with a balsamic and oil mixture to add even more flavor, but this tart tastes pretty damn scrumptious as is. I went old school for this one, and threw on a little Tribe Called Quest (The Love Movement.)

Tart Dough Ingredients (makes enough for 2 tarts):

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/8 cup fine grain beet sugar
3/4 cup Earth Balance butter (cold and cubed)
3 tbsp Spectrum vegetable shortening
1/2 cup ice water

In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine the flour, salt and sugar. Using the paddle mixer, mix on low. Slowly add in the butter and the shortening. Continue mixing until it resembles small beads. Add in the ice water, about 2 tbsp at a time until the dough is moist but not sticky. Remove the dough and briefly knead so it comes together, distributing the fat, but not over-kneading (this will make for tough dough.) Pat the dough into a disc, cover with plastic wrap, and set in the fridge for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

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Tart Filling Ingredients:

3 medium-small eggplant
3 large heirloom tomatoes, sliced crosswise 1/4-inch thick
Basil Pesto (recipe to follow)
Sea salt and pepper
Safflower oil to grease baking pans
1/4 cup Olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Kalamata Olives, chopped (for garnish)
Fresh basil (for garnish)

Slice the eggplant, crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices. Arrange them in a single layer on top of some paper towels. Lightly sprinkle them with salt and allow them to sit for about 15 minutes. This will help draw out the water. Pat the eggplants dry with some more paper towels.

*Note: If you have a compost been (like I do) you can put the paper towels in there, so long as they don’t have any oil on them.

Lightly grease a baking sheet with safflower oil and arrange the eggplant slices on top. Brush each eggplant slice with a little bit of olive oil or more safflower oil. Bake in the oven at 400 degrees F for about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and stack the slices on a plate and set aside to cool for about 10 minutes.

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Reduce the oven heat to 375 degrees F.

Roll out the dough onto a piece of parchment paper, creating a 12-inch circle. Flip the dough over into a 9-inch tart pan and gently press it down. Trim the edges so that they are no higher than the pan. Prick the dough all over the bottom with a fork. Line the inside of the tart dough with foil and fill with dry rice (or pie weights if you have them.) Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, carefully take out the foil with the rice and set the pan aside on a cooling rack.

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Pesto Ingredients:

1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
3 tbsp pine nuts (lightly toasted)
1 clove of garlic (chopped)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp champagne vinegar
Sea salt

Blend together all of the ingredients in a food processor or blender. Season with salt. Spread half of the pesto on to the crust. Place a layer of the eggplant on top, followed by a layer of tomatoes. Repeat, arranging the remaining tomatoes on top.

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Bake at 375 degreed F for 1 hour, or until the crust begins to become golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Remove the tart from the oven and place on a cooling rack for about 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

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