While this seasonal celebratory salad is certainly best enjoyed with the flavour and variety provided only by heirloom tomatoes, it can be enjoyed with more standard varieties as well. If an aged balsamic is beyond your pantry’s reach, try reducing an inexpensive balsamic in a pan until it reaches a consistency that coats a spoon.
Tart dough (recipe below)
1/4 cup (60 mL) basil puree (recipe below)
7 oz (200 g) Monforte Belle sheep’s milk cheese, or ch?e
1.5 lbs (680 g) selection of heirloom tomatoes
1/3 cup (80 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp (15 mL) fleur de sel
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp (30 mL) 15-year-old balsamic, or similar
3/4 cup (180 mL) butter
1/3 cup (80 mL) sugar
2 Tbsp (30 mL) orange zest
1 cup (250 mL) flour
3/4 cup (180 mL) ground almonds
2/3 cup (160 mL) toasted panko crumbs (found in Asian markets)
Mix butter and sugar together. Add orange zest, flour, ground almonds, and panko crumbs to form dough. Mix, being careful not to overmix.
1 cup (250 mL) basil leaves
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) freshly cracked pepper
2 ice cubes
Add all ingredients together in a mini food processor and puree until smooth. The ice cubes will prevent the basil from turning grey in the process.
Roll tart dough into six 4-in (10-cm) balls. Work dough with fingers to create shells approximately 1/8-in (3 mm) thick and press into individual tart shells.
Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Cover tarts with baking paper and beans and cook (“blind”) approximately 10 to 12 minutes. Let shells cool.
Mix basil puree with one 1 Tbsp (15 mL) of the Belle cheese to create a spreadable mix.
Lightly coat base of shell with a little of the basil mixture.
In a bowl, season tomatoes with extra-virgin olive oil, salt, and black pepper. (Note: To intensify flavours and vary textures, blister some of the smaller tomatoes in a hot pan using a little extra-virgin olive oil, and then season with fleur de sel and black pepper.)
Arrange blistered and raw tomatoes inside tart shells. Garnish with a “quenelle” of the Belle cheese. To form a quenelle, shape the cheese between two teaspoons to create an almond-shaped lozenge.
Place in the centre of the plate; spoon extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic around the tart.
Finish with a sprinkling of fleur de sel as desired.
source: "Treadwell", alive #396, June 2007
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