Sit back and take a deep breath…now hold it for a second. Okay, release. Good. Try it again. Do you feel that? It’s the enveloping calm that surrounds you like a soft blanket. A blissful moment when the background noise of the day slowly fades away. It’s just you, the air you breathe and nothing else. You become peaceful. Quiet. Collected. Funny how something as simple as catching your breath helps to hit life’s reset button. I’d do it more often, only I’d probably end up hyperventilating. So I force myself to find other ways to relax. Like puttering around in the kitchen for example.
For me, cooking is a delicious way to unwind. It doesn’t matter what I’m making, the fact that I’m making something is what counts. And as a result, the demands of the week are cut away with every chiffonade. Each worry is diluted in a good, rolling boil. I think many would agree, preparing a meal is feel good, taste good therapy (even if it means having to do the dishes afterwards.)
Mind you, it doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as crafting whatever fresh ingredients you have on-hand into a favorite dish. Or creating a new one. This pillowly tomato tart is a perfect example. There’s nothing overly complex about it. Or unexpected for that matter. Its effortless simplicity is what makes it so appealing. And to my point, relaxing.
It starts with pre-made puffed pastry (a major part of what makes this dish uncomplicated by the way). Add in a few vine ripened tomatoes, some favorite cheeses (in this case Gruyère and pecorino romano) a sprinkle of thyme and you’re pretty much good to go. In 20 minutes or so you have a golden, flakey tart bursting with all the goodness of summer. It’s buttery, satisfying and a great way to take some time out to savor the moment. Which if you ask me, is darn good therapy for the soul as well as the palate.
- 1 package of frozen puffed pastry (2 sheets)
- Flour (for dusting)
- 3 medium-sized tomatoes, thinly sliced (for color use red, orange and yellow)
- Olive oil
- 3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
- Finely shredded Gruyère and pecorino romano cheeses (about 1/3 cup each)
- Egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon of water (egg wash for binding and glazing the sides)
- Course sea salt
- (Optional) Balsamic vinegar or hot sauce to finish
Makes 2 tarts
- Pre-heat oven to 400 F° and allow the puffed pastry to defrost according to package directions.
- Working on a lightly floured surface, unfold one of the puffed pastry sheets and roll into a flat square. Brush the edges with egg wash and fold the edges in (about 1/4 inch). Crimp with a fork.
- Working on the inside of the fold, prick the pastry with tines of a fork then lightly brush the inside with olive oil.
- Arrange the tomato slices so they almost touch the inside of the folded edge and slightly overlap each other. (Note, if the tomatoes are cut too thick their juices could make the tart soggy, so slice them on the thin side.)
- Sprinkle with fresh thyme and lightly top with half of the cheeses.
- Brush the outer folded edges with egg wash.
- Repeat steps above for second pastry sheet.
- Bake in oven for 20 – 25 minutes until puffy and golden brown.
- Sprinkle with fresh chives and sea salt to taste.
- (Optional) Lightly sprinkle center with balsamic vinegar or hot sauce. Enjoy.