a very French tart

This week I happened to hear an interview with Chuck Close, considered to be one of the world’s greatest contemporary portrait painters. 

I only ever listen to the radio when I’m driving and sometimes, just sometimes, I happen across something so riveting that I either forget where I’m going or I spend time at stop lights frantically making notes on whatever scrap of paper I can grab. Inevitably, I lose those scraps. But the mere act of writing things down seems to change something in my brain – to wire it in there so that I can remember.

That’s what happened when I was listening to Chuck Close. I forgot half my errands and I spent five minutes pulled over to the side of the road scrambling through my car to find a pen to make notes. Close suffers from a number of disabilities including dyslexia and a condition called face-blindness. And then in 1988, a spinal illness left him a quadriplegic. His father died when he was eleven-years-old. In the interview he said something to the effect that he would rather have had those eleven years with his father than a lifetime with most other fathers. (I’m working from memory here.) He also said getting over his father’s death taught him important lessons about getting over things and finding a way back to meaning and happiness. He talked about his art before and after becoming a quadriplegic.

Close also talked a lot about not really believing in waiting for inspiration.  He’s on record as having said, “Inspiration is highly overrated… More often than not, work is salvation.” I love this idea – that work is salvation and I believe that buckling down and doing the work matters hugely.

But as for inspiration – perhaps it’s different in the kitchen where inspiration is everywhere. It often comes in the form of ingredients. A pot of basil growing in the garden, a bunch of fresh, organic kale , a loaf of sourdough bread, dark sweet cherries, really good chocolate, a wedge of cheese, the scent of rosemary, small wild apples, autumn squash. Sometimes inspiration comes from cookbooks and food blogs and food photography.

This recipe was inspired by the cookbook, My French Kitchen, which I bought after reading about it on the beautiful (and highly inspirational) Seattle-based food blog Cottage Grove House.

my french kitchen

My version of a French Tomato Tart, inspired by but bearing almost no resemblance to the one in My French Kitchen follows.

You’ll need a good flan dish and a decent spatula. A flan dish works really well here because this is definitely a tart as opposed to a deep dish kind of thing like a quiche (which I also love). The ingredients are kind of spare. You want your crust rolled thin and you don’t need it to have high sides. And as for the spatula – they happen to be a happy little addiction of mine. I often take my own spatulas when I’m cooking at other people’s houses!

Classic Tomato Tart

  • pastry for a 9 inch pie plate or flan dish
  • 10-12 cocktail-size firm, ripe tomatoes (or double that plus a few for cherry tomatoes)
  • 2 tsp anchovy paste – obviously optional and not for vegetarians
  • 1 large onion, finely sliced in rings
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
  • fresh basil, washed and torn
  • 1/2 cup of whatever shredded, grated or crumbled cheese inspires you – Parmesan, old cheddar, chevre, asiago, fontina, feta, etc.
  • freshly ground black pepper

Wash the tomatoes and slice in half. Place cut side down on a clean kitchen towel or paper towel to absorb any extraneous moisture.

Saute the onion in the olive oil and when nicely browned, add the garlic and continue cooking for another minute or two. Use a teaspoon of sugar if you want to get these nice and caramelized.

Roll out the pastry and place in flan dish.

Spread the anchovy paste in the bottom of the pastry using a spatula. Then add the cooked onions and garlic and distribute evenly. Place the tomatoes tops up on the onions. Sprinkle with olives, ripped basil leaves, cheese and pepper.

Bake at 350 deg F for about 35-40 minutes or until tart is lightly browned. Serve warm or at room temperature.

french tomato tart



42 thoughts on “a very French tart

  1. I am so glad you posted your tomato tart! It’s wonderful Lindy. And what a lovely post about inspiration. I often think about inspiration and work. What an interesting perspective about work being salvation. When I think of work I think of my job I do to earn money and (unfortunately) it is a bit uninspiring. On the other hand, when I work on something I really enjoy and not get paid doing it I feel inspired! Oh great, now I’m sitting here pondering my existence. 🙂 I really love this recipe. I’m crazy about savory pies so I just have to make this one. Thank you for the link back too!

    1. Seana – my pleasure to link back to you. I do love your blog. I feel the same as you about the pure enjoyment and freedom of having a blog. I realize there are seventy-nine-billion others but that doesn’t really matter. What matters is that working on my own and connecting with other like-minded people around the world is such a genuine source of joy (and dare I say – inspiration!).
      The tomato tart was packed with flavour. I had beautiful small tomatoes from a local grower. Next year perhaps I’ll have my own again, I hope.
      Looking forward to seeing what you are up to…

  2. Wow I love the mix of the fish taste with the acid of the tomatoes and the cheese. What a beautiful tart. I saw tiny white cottage’s post with that book and was thinking of getting it. I have too many cookbooks! I love that you pull over your car to write notes. I’m the same way. I agree with you about writing wiring it into your brain. As a creative writer I agree with him about inspiration. You really just have to work every day with your routine whether you’re inspired or not. The inspiration will come from life, but you can’t wait for it. As for cooking…I agree with both of you. Inspiration is everywhere, but you have to make dinner every night anyway so you’re kind of looking for it. I guess you could just order in, but that’s no fun. Thanks for this gorgeous recipe and photos!

    1. So interesting and insightful Amanda. it’s funny because when I’m writing – I do exactly what Chuck Close talked about. I just sit at my desk and start and then hopefully – inspiration follows. It’s hard work. But in the kitchen – it’s another thing entirely – mostly pure joy (til the clean-up). I do love the act of creating though – whether it be painting, writing, photography or cooking. Wonderful to hear from you and promise to catch up on your blog SOON. xo

  3. Very inspirational Lindy. I too feel the same way about my dad as Chuck does. And I so want to learn how to get over things and find my way back to meaning and happiness. This is my goal. Beautiful tart by the way! xox

    1. Lidia – I could not have said it better. With you 100% of the way. I’m so glad you feel like that about your father – what a beautiful way to feel. I have to run to take my dog to the groomer but can’t wait to catch up on what you’re doing in the blogging world. ❤

  4. Your post made me think, your cake made hungry (beautiful!). Inspiration and work are linked each other. In my mind, in my soul inspiration cannot be useful if we are not able to work on it. Seeing inspiration transformed in something tangible is one of the things make me incredible happy. Great post, thanks a lot for sharing!

    1. I love this – you’re so right – inspiration and work ARE linked to each other. It is absolutely true. So many times I sit down to write or paint and the path to where I’m heading only begins clear once I start wrestling with the words on the screen. Seeing inspiration transformed in something tangible is a path to happiness. I just love that you wrote that. Brilliant. You made me think also. Thank you!!!!!!!!!

  5. I heard the same interview I believe yesterday on CBC, but then I listen to the radio non-stop except when I am in the garden.
    That tomato tart is beautiful – so many flavours which remind me of Spain. My tomatoes will be ripe soon, so will bookmark this for using up some of the tomato bounty this summer. Thanks so much for bringing this to Fiesta Friday.

    1. So interesting the parallels in our lives. I don’t always run into Eleanor Wachtel on the CBC but she does some very good interviews. I love the food for thought almost as much as I also love food!
      I can only just imagine how fabulous your garden is. I don’t have a garden this year because of the move – but perhaps next year. And then I will have tomatoes for sure. This year I have herbs in pots. I was walking along the Kingston waterfront the other day and thought of you – wondering what you were foraging for. I’d love to come and forage with you sometime! xo

      1. Well, my garden is a bit of a disaster but there are lots of pretty things in it. Our lawnmower is at the shop so our weeds are having a field day – ha ha. It would be nice to go foraging together. Do you know any good spots between Tamworth and Kingston – maybe Yarker, Verona?

    1. Hi Suzanne – thank you – as always! You’re so generous. I feel constantly like I never have enough time to actually spend the time on my blog on the reader. Hoping that changes soon… Am looking forward to seeing what you’re up to. xo

  6. Interesting interview and thanks for the tomato tart idea…I’ve read a fair bit of Joanne Harris but haven’t found her recipe book yet….I’ll search the library for it. I wonder if she writes recipes with the same flair as her fiction. Somehow, I bet she does!

    1. I’ve never read Joanne Harris’s fiction (only seen Chocolat) – but have read her cookbooks! My French Kitchen is visually beautiful and in that way so inspirational. I love her background because she comes from Yorkshire, close to where I came from, and she divides her time between Yorkshire and France. I love those two places almost as much as I love Kingston! Very nice to hear from you and hope you are enjoying a beautiful summer. xo

  7. Thought provoking post. Inspiration is everywhere, even in our own heads. Just doing the work can inspire other wonderful things. Just making dinner can bring out some of the best meals.

  8. What a gorgeous tart, and you have photographed it beautifully. I really enjoyed reading this post, and you also have me pondering inspiration in blogging, cooking and life generally…

  9. I love your recipe…especially like the idea of the anchovy paste spread on the pastry before adding the other ingredients. I think it would help keep the pastry flakey.

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