We became fast friends after meeting Stephanie and Francois last year. Stephanie is American like me, and met Francois while hopping around Europe, eventually landing on his couch in Paris (he was her serendipitous couch surfing match. Someone call Hollywood, there’s a movie in that story). A job offer led them from France to Australia shortly before we did, but it took a few years for us to cross paths. I am so glad that we did.
Steph, Fanch and Milo, the cocker spaniel, have brought much to our lives: solidarity, great conversation, hilarious ‘lost-in-translation’ stories between lovers from different countries… (it happens to the best of us). Fellow food enthusiasts, we’ve shared many memorable meals and drinks together, some notably cooked by the Frenchman himself.
Our chef-in-residence has treated us to scallops and caviar, duck a l’orange, and spicy syrup cakes, so we’re going to keep him around as long as we can (kidding). One recent treat was this rustic tomato and Dijon tart, the recipe for which he’s kindly shared with me.
The concept is simple: a puff pastry shell filled with Dijon mustard, ripe summer tomatoes, sharp cheese and mellow herbs such as tarragon and thyme, baked until puffed and golden. Francois originally used goat’s cheese, but we followed his suggestion to use Comté instead – a hard, strong-flavored cheese similar to Emmental or gruyere – and the results were equally good. Our sous chef, above, agreed.
If using hard cheese the method changes slightly (and is noted in the recipe below): layer 150g of thinly-sliced Comté under the tomatoes, then grate the remaining 50g and spread on top, to brown. If using soft goat’s cheese, crumble or slice the cheese on top of the tomatoes only. If time is on your side, making the pastry from scratch would take this to the next level. Ready made all-butter puff pastry makes this a time-conscious and delectable lunch with salad and a glass of wine, toasted to friends like Stephanie and Francois that make our lives as fortunate as they are.
- 1 9-inch springform tart tin (or any 9-inch tart tin)
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed according to package instructions
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 200g Comté or goat's cheese, thinly sliced
- Three large, ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced in rounds
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme
- 1 tbsp fresh tarragon
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 200C / 375F.
Line the tart tin with the thawed puff pastry sheet, cutting off any excess. Spread the mustard over the base of the pastry.
If using HARD cheese (like Comté): arrange 150g of the cheese slices over the mustard, followed by the tomato slices, letting the tomatoes overlap slightly. Break the reamining cheese into crumbs and scatter over the tomatoes. Sprinkle the fresh herbs on top.
If using SOFT cheese (like goat's cheese): arrange the tomato slices, overlapping slightly, followed by the cheese slices. Sprinkle the fresh herbs on top.
Drizzle the olive oil over the entire tart and pop it the oven, checking at 40 minutes. The tart is ready when until the pastry is puffed and golden, the tomatoes are cooked and the cheese has browned slightly.
Serve immediately or at room temperature.
François adapted this recipe from David Lebovitz's "French Tomato Tart" recipe, available on davidlebovitz.com.