Chef Pat Pascarella’s cooking MO is to honor his Italian heritage with classic ingredients and the time-tested techniques he learned from his mother and grandmother. For this tart, Pascarella, the owner of Bastone in Atlanta, layers fresh tomatoes with a mixture of onions, shallots, and leeks; a couple of herbs; and that’s it. The key, he says, is to be patient as you caramelize the onions (maybe pour a nice Italian red while you tend to the pot). “The slow-cooking process releases tons of sweetness and allows the onions to counteract the butteriness of the pastry,” he says. With the tartness of the tomatoes and a finishing drizzle of balsamic vinegar and olive oil, it pulls together for a foolproof meal or snack.
Heirloom Tomato and Caramelized Onion Tart
Fresh veggies and herbs pair with buttery pastry for a sweet-and-savory bite
photo: Johnny Autry
Heirloom Tomato and Caramelized Onion Tart (Yield: 1 (10-by-12-inch) tart)
½ lb. unsalted butter
2 sprigs thyme
1 tsp. oregano, chopped
2 white onions, thinly sliced
2 red onions, thinly sliced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 leeks, thinly sliced
Salt, to taste
1 sheet puff pastry (homemade or store-bought), thawed
2 heirloom tomatoes, cut into ¼-inch slices
Balsamic vinegar (a quality 25-year-old variety, if possible)
Extra-virgin olive oil
In a large pot, combine butter, thyme, oregano, onions, shallots, and leeks. Cook on low heat with a sprinkle of salt for about 60 minutes, stirring often and adding a splash of water if the onions begin to brown too quickly. When the onions are completely caramelized (they’ll be bronze in color and thick in consistency), remove from heat, add salt to taste, and remove thyme sprigs. Let cool.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400ºF and, on a lightly floured surface, roll out puff pastry to about a 10-by-12-inch rectangle. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment. Place onion mixture in the center of your dough and spread an even layer, leaving a 1½-to-2-inch border.
Place the sliced tomatoes on top of the onions to completely cover them, and sprinkle with salt. Crimp the edges of the puff pastry toward the center, so that it resembles a crostata. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce oven to 375ºF and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes, until edges are golden brown.
Let cool on a wire rack. Serve with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil.
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